Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When you hear the word Feis.

What do you think of? It's been a few years since I competed Irish Step dancing, and for those of you who don't speak the lingo, Feis (pronounced fesh) is the name for an Irish Step Dance competition.

But when I think of feis, I don't think of the perfect leap or the colorful dress. I think of the time I spend practicing. It's all the work that I do before the final day that has the biggest impact. I've always been lucky enough to have my own space to practice in, so when I think of feis, I think of lacing up my ghillies with my hair thrown into a reckless ponytail and turning the music on. I think of dancing over and over until I get the rhythm perfect and each piece totally right.

And every time, no matter how in shape I think I am, I always dance until I feel like I'm going to throw up. It's necessary in the process. I know I haven't pushed myself to the limit until then. I know there's more I can do and farther I can go and I don't stop until I've reached that point.

And after a few days of nearly losing my lunch, I get past it and can push just as hard the next week without feeling nauseous. Then a week later, my muscles have it memorized, and don't fight the intricate patterns. A month of training like this and I know I'm ready for feis. This was the only way I knew of perfecting my steps. But then, I didn't start Irish dancing until I was in my twenties.

But there is a lesson in the whole thing. A lesson that has driven me past the competition curcuit and into the world of writing. Fortunately, writing doesn't require the same kind of physical excertion that Irish dancing does. But in terms of determination, perserverance and creativity, I think it could be a match.

Writing a book is like training for feis. When I get to the point I doubt myself, I push through it. When I think my story idea might not be so brilliant that it will blow the mind of every reader in the world- I don't worry. I keep writing. I keep trying. I let my story flow and let it lead me into paths I didn't see coming. And there is a rhythm. One that it begs to set into, I just have to listen.

And just like dancing becomes a beautiful liberating flight, so can a story, but it takes all the work. All the back-breaking revising, editing and writing. All of it. Because in the end, anything worth looking at, worth feeling or living takes that.

Writing is a dance. It isn't easy, but it changes you. As you create it, mold it and form it, it comes to life and you will never be the same again.


mitzi said...

I miss you--your blog is quite poetic.
Are you traveling to go to Feis, or is it in Boise?
Are you going to Hailey for the 4th? I'm still trying to figure it out--Taylor is the only kid who could come with us if we go. I guess that's what happens when kids start to grow up...

Melissa said...

What a beautiful post. :)

L.T. Elliot said...

Amen and amen. Writing sustains me even while it drains me.
You're a woman of many talents! How do you manage it?