Dancing into a Story — Repost

This was my second post for Classic and Cozy Books, March 25, 2014, posted shortly after I published Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, one of my favorite novels. If we don’t like our own work, why are we writing?


Have you ever found yourself writing, without premeditation, about someone from your distant past, even your childhood, whom you have not thought of during all the intervening years? There they are, just as you had last seen them, clear and vital, presiding over a part in your story that you wouldn’t have envisioned when you began the work.

Sometimes they are protagonist, or antagonist, but more often they are the deuteragonist or tritagonist who hold your fictional world together in the populated corners that give your story and main characters depth.

When I was a fifth grader, my mother decided that this tomboy was going to learn how to walk, sit and stand like a young lady. Every Saturday morning, I walked up to the mansion on Sutro Hill where Mrs. Evelyn King held her dance classes in her own studio, complete with barre, walls of full length mirrors, a stage and a sun room also with barre and a view across the city to the Bay.

I was not the only girl in my school class attending these lessons but I may have been the only one who got more than good posture out of the years of ballet, jazz and ethnic dances.

At least in terms of sparking a lifetime of creative inspiration and opportunity.

Not only did I learn to dance, I developed a love of music. For me, the two are inextricably linked. I rarely listen to music without also dancing—if not full-on, with my fingers and/or toes.

Yet, I knew from the first lesson dancing was not my future. Choreography was fun and performing was a thrill but to be a professional dancer required the one element I didn’t bring to the barre every Saturday morning. Passion.

That ingredient was reserved, even then, for writing, for story-telling, for making worlds with words. Being able to transform all the joys and heartbreaks of growing up into stories is a most wonderful thing.

So, Mrs. King, thank you for inspiring me to nourish this passion. Perhaps, if you were still with us you might recognize yourself in Sharon, the dance teacher in my novel, Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls. But, if not, know that I created her as a tribute to you and all the other teachers who have launched their students into the world of creativity.

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