It’s NOT the Writing. It’s the Bull Sh*t.

August 1, 2012

My daughter wants to quit dance. (Was that random? Typing it felt very random.) Quitting dance isn’t an easy decision. She’s 10, and she’s been enrolled in dance training for seven years. It’s a big part of who she is, and apparently, she thinks that part has become too big, too cumbersome, too unyielding when she wants to do other things. I get that. I do. But still, I hate to see her quit.

Last night as I cuddled her on the couch, I tried to give words of wisdom, stories from my life and her father’s life, her brothers’ lives too, that would help her see that sometimes we give up on something because the work gets hard or the fear of failing grows, and those are not valid reasons to quit. Her response: But I just don’t have fun anymore.

Ah, fun. That three-letter word gets people into a lot of trouble. The pursuit of… The sustaining of… The end of… We make a lot of decisions based on what is and isn’t fun, especially when we’re young. Don’t get me wrong. I want her to have fun. But I also want her to be balanced enough to know that sometimes you have to work hard, face fears and yes, even be miserable in order to really appreciate the next round of fun.

The more we talked, the more I realized this wasn’t about quitting dance so much as it was about her wanting to break free of the schedule, the physical strain, the pressure to perform. (Heck, that’s a lot for a 10-year-old!) It wasn’t about the dance at all. It was the bull sh*t. The hour on the barre each Thursday. The two hours in studio Friday nights when her other friends were having sleepovers. The struggle to achieve equal flexibility between right and left legs. The fines for forgetting hair ties to fasten her hair into a bun. None of it’s terroristic. 🙂 None of it’s shocking. (Like I said, we’ve been at it for a while now.) But year after year of it begins to drag a person down, especially a 10-year-old person.

Now, what the heck does this have to do with writing? A lot actually. At least for me. And lately. For some time now, writing hasn’t been…fun. I’m struggling with my direction, my commitment, my motivation, my confidence. After much procrastination, I ran out of excuses and finally wrote 1200+ words yesterday. And you know what? During that time of actual writing, nothing else mattered. Not once did I stop and think: Why are you doing this? No little voice nagged: You’re wasting your time. While writing, all was right with my world.

So what’s the problem? Like I told my daughter: It’s the bull sh*t. (No, I did not use those exact words.) As she struggles with all the things that go along with dancing as a skill, I struggle with all the things that go along with writing for publication. When we focus on the extras, we lose the love—and fun—of the main event. The action. The dancing. The writing. The thing that makes us whole.

Last night, before bed, I told my daughter that I think she needs to take a few months off from “training”—not from dancing. She needs a break from the voices telling her how to move, how to bend. She needs the freedom to choreograph her own motion, to hear the music that plays in her heart.

Wide, fearful eyes met my gaze. “But what if I forget what I learned?” she asked.

“Then you’ll learn new things, even better things. Just remember, you know everything you need to know to dance right here in this room.”

They are words that haunt me…along with “practice what you preach.”

I know everything I need to know to write—right here in this room. The rest will come. As long as I don’t quit.

Keep dancing.

Keep writing.

Ignore the bull sh*t.



6 Responses to “It’s NOT the Writing. It’s the Bull Sh*t.”

  1. taristhread Says:

    Love this post Elley! Will keep it handy to remind me….

  2. MonaKarel Says:

    Oh absolutely and completely YES!! Whether showing dogs or writing, it’s not the process, it’s all the drek we have to go through to get to the process. The negativity, the tearing down, the constant doubts. THANKS for a great blog post!

  3. Wonderfully inspiring. I’ll come back to this more than once.

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