Pole Dancing and Writing – A Comparative Post

January 15, 2014

Song of the Day: Girls, Girls, Girls by Mötley Crüe

Happy 2014!

rf getty pole dance (2)It’s a new year once again and a new beginning. New beginnings often bring in new challenges and opportunities. Anyone who knows me or has followed this blog long enough knows that I am all about seizing opportunities, owning them, and learning, growing, igniting.

Well this year, I’m starting off with a bang. Killer editing deadlines, finishing up a novella for release in a month (give or take), and pole dancing. Yup. You read right—pole dancing.

Why pole dancing? Why not? Sure I could claim it’s for research, and I suppose in a way it is. But honestly, it’s just another fun, bold adventure I wanted to take.

And as with everything I do, it wasn’t difficult to compare my endeavors with writing. No, really.

1. Learning to pole dance is stepping out of the box (and comfort zone) and doing something fun, risky and terrifying. So it can be for the author trying out a new genre or project. Or for the newbie writer embarking on their first manuscript. Or the author about to dive into the growing new world of self-publishing for the first time.

2. Pole dancing works to strengthen your core to support the body. Just like writers need to make sure the story plot (core) is strong. A flabby plot is too weak to support the story. No sagging middles!

leg 2

Trophy Bruise
Fig. 1

3. Pole dancing creates flexibility in surprisingly many muscles. Writers need flexibility in many of their muscles, too. Think of how pliant and adaptable we have to be in such areas as time, changing storylines, writing methods, in the moving parts of character GMCs, and even where we write, to name a few.

4. Besides spinning, there are tricks that can be done on the pole that are almost acrobatic, sans the safety net. In writing, these “tricks” might equate to something as simple as a unique voice, unusual swag, or cool, cutting-edge marketing methods. Or it could mean something tougher like using technology to allow readers a chance to pick from a choice of story endings.

5. Writers hear it often—there are no new stories, only new ways and variations to tell old tales. There is one pole but many types of spins that are done on and around it. Besides putting the sexy in slinking up and down the pole without ever leaving the floor (no twerking!), I’ve learned four spins—the sit, the drag and fly, the fireman, and my most ambitious one to date, the leg hook backward spin.

thigh (5)

Trophy Bruise
Fig. 2

6. Practice, practice, practice! Pole dancing is not easy and I currently look like a not-so-graceful drunk elephant swinging wildly in a circus tent. But I will get better as long as I keep at it. This is true with anything worth doing. A writer has to hone their craft and the only way to do this is to keep writing.

7. There are a lot of “trophy bruises” that come with pole dancing. I’m kinda proud of my bruises. They are tangible evidence that I am working hard toward something I enjoy. For authors, those bruises come in the form of tough critiques, poor contest results, agent/editor rejections, and harsh reviews. Ouch! But those black and blue punches we take makes us stronger—better.

8. New students to pole dancing class set goals. What is it they want to achieve. More flexibility, be fit, earning more tips than co-workers, to tone muscles? Writers haverf getty pole dance (1) goals, too. Most want to finish, sell, and publish a book. My personal pole dancing goal? To be able to hang upside down on a pole using only my thighs. Just wait…

There you have it. How pole dancing and writing are in common. What else can you take away from this post? Don’t be afraid to try be bold. Learning something new makes you stronger. Stretch yourself. And, you are never too old to pole dance.

Comments and thoughts are always welcome.

Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Opportunity.

August 18, 2010

Song of the day:  Should’ve Known Better by Cinder Road

When opportunity knocks, answer the door. What lay on the other side may surprise you. Sure, if it makes you feel better, look through the peep hole. But answer the door.

WWJD - What Would Jones Do?

As writers, every opportunity is a golden one. Fortunately for us, there are loads of gold nuggets. We need them, too. This business of writing and publication is riddled with obstacles, pitfalls and hair-pin curves. Time and again, we are bowled over by a giant dream-crushing boulder, our resolve is rattled and we cower in self-pity to lick our wounds.

I encounter my first brush with opportunity while in college four years ago. My professor from a wildly interesting creative writing course encouraged me to take a short story written for the class and expand it into a novel. I took the task as a challenge and quit school. Though I didn’t write the romantic comedy he liked so much, I wrote my first pirate historical in under seven months.

Oh, it's you, Orlando. I've been waiting for your call.

Shortly after writing said novel, I quickly learned New York wasn’t interested. What? Hard to believe, I know. Apparently, I had some silly issues with POV, verb tense, and “showing not telling”. Pshaw! This led me to pick up Janet Evanovich’s How I Write book. In it she mentions Romance Writers of America. I had a favorite author thanking this very organization. Hmm…maybe RWA is something to check out. Brrriiing. Brrriiing. Hello, opportunity?

Soon, I signed up with RWA and began enjoying the networking, education and genuine support of my local chapter. I strengthened my craft, hit the contest circuit running, co-founded this blog, became a Golden Heart® finalist, attended RWA’s annual conferences and accepted a position on my chapter’s board; all this in a little more than two years. These chains of events were like a rapid succession of gunfire.

An opportunity is never lost. It's just found by someone else.

Each opportunity grabbed is another step toward my dream of a successful writing career. I don’t trip over good fortune. It doesn’t land in my lap. If it did, I’d be basking in the glow of my latest five book deal, sipping a fruity rum concoction on a pristine beach in the Caribbean. No, I shed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to lay down each cobblestone in my yellow brick road before I walk upon it. If opportunity crosses my path, I’m going to grab it, wrestle it to the ground, and make it my bi-atch.

Opportunity comes in many guises.

It may be subtle, a casual conversation at the coffee shop, a comment on a blog, or a website visited. Sometimes it is abrupt, slapping you and making you scream uncle in a contest score, critique group, and even in a rejection letter.

Aside from contests, blogs, and critique groups, there are many other places opportunity can be found. Judging, attending meetings, participating in online discussion and classes, writing challenges — yep, fortuity can be found in every facet of this industry.  The key is to recognize opportunity, no matter how insignificant it may seem at first, and act upon it in such a way that will benefit you.

Opportunity runs rampant at conferences, too. You may find it in the elevator, at dinner, volunteering, attending a workshop, and, hopefully during an agent/editor appointment.

OMG! Please, please, please don't let him read it!

Take for example the RWA conference in Orlando a few weeks ago. I happened upon an editor in the hotel lobby who has had my manuscript since February. I have since added more layers of depth to my characters and two new scenes. Like a love letter accidentally sent, I didn’t want the editor reading my manuscript. The horror! It is so much better now. Really. I would simply die if the old version was read. Call me a nut job, but I struck up a conversation with the editor and asked if I could resubmit it. Here, I have done three things. I have now made face-to-face contact with this editor. I am no longer just a name in the manuscript header. I have saved myself the embarrassment of my first love letter being read. Plus, I have given myself a chance to present my new and improved masterpiece. Whoop! There it is. Opportunity.

But wait! There’s more. I had just signed in for my agent appointment when a volunteer asked the waiting group if anyone wanted to pitch to editor so-and-so. I hadn’t even sat down to look over my notes, practiced what I would say in my head, or prayed to the gods for a successful pitch. But I recognized the opportunity. I knew of this editor and what she accepted. You bet I raised my hand. This happened not once, but TWICE. On top of my scheduled two appointments, I ended up with four. I walked away with two requests for a partial, one request for a full and given the freedom of name-dropping to four more agents. Cha-ching! Opportunity!

Moral of the story? Never ignore opportunity knocking. Open the door. Chances are something good will come of it.

I’d love to hear about an opportunity you may have answered.