Tuesday, April 24

Sharing Secrets

I write all the time. In my head.

All. The. Time.

Constantly on the inside screen behind the ridge of my forehead, words and sentences play by. I write continually, inspired by the things I see or the memories triggered by what I smell. Even when I am inspired by nothing, I am composing. My brain literally bubbles with ideas; ideas which pop and play and line themselves up into coherent thought; it is poetry and prose like you would never believe. It is profound, precise, perfect writing replete with moving imagery and powerful metaphor. Thoughts melding into striking sentences, with grammar, punctuation and spell checks complete.

The trouble comes when I ask those perfect phrases to make the journey from my brain- through my neck-across my shoulder-down my arm-and-out my fingertips. I think sometimes the thoughts dawdle along the way, like a toddler on his way to bed distracted by that last chance to play, and somewhere between formation and fruition something, maybe everything, gets lost. Instead of idyllic words fraught with wisdom what comes through my hands by way of pen or keyboard is merely a shadow of the original thought.

A small, dark, skulking shadow.

I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to retrace the path, hoping to find the birthplace of my perfect, precise, exquisitely formed inspiration so I can get it on paper, as it were.

My gaze casts to the distance, my brow knits in concentration and my lower lip gets tucked into my teeth. I search and reach and long to remember just what it is that I am trying to say.

My kids are learning that to interrupt me from this comatose stance is to risk a flash of the eye, much like the pupil of a frightened bird; and a heavy sigh just like a... well, like the tired mother that I am.

"Oh, I see you're writing. I'll come back" I hear them say.

Right now it is these words always in concert inside my mind. The dancers who usually occupy that space have had to make some room. Although I am on a virtual hiatus from teaching right now, it is apparent that my brain didn't get the memo, because the dancers who have been in my head since before I can remember are still there. I hear music and in my head, the stage lights are burning, the curtains rise and my dancers make an entrance. Leaping, spinning, stretching, these graceful dancers play out the steps choreographed in my heart and magnificently performed in my head.

This is how it has always been for me. Music makes my head dance.

I have been teaching dance, excluding mini-breaks like this one, for the past 25 years. I love the work. It is the most honest part of who I am; to be in a studio classroom with children moving and creating together is simple paradise for me. When I work with students preparing for performance, this is generally how it goes. The music is selected and I listen. And I watch. The dancers in my head take off into such stunning movement that often I am breathless. I take notes. I listen to the music again. And I watch. And in my head there is dancing.

I know when I stand in front of my class, frozen to the spot with my brow furrowed and my lip tucked in, it is an odd sight. But even with notes in hand, sometimes I just have to watch the dancers in my head run through the combination or the formation one more time, so I can translate it onto the bodies standing in front of me.

Standing still, eyes cast to the distance, eyebrows crowding eyelids and begging to share space, teeth marks in my lower lip, I have often heard:

"Shhh! Quiet. Miss Jenn is thinking"

Because my students are in on the secret.

I see things in my head.

If I could, I would publish directly from the gray matter and skip the variations and mutations of the perfect paragraph as it resides there. And then, the dancers in my head could don their costumes, move onto the stage, and interpret the words; dancing with passion and grace in a spectacular improvisational performance. It well could be an artistic wonder.

If only I had the necessary plug-in.


  1. I always feel like my most succinct, poetic and honest writing occurs in my thoughts when I happen to not have a pen, notebook or computer handy.

    So I have a billion little notebooks everywhere. It doesn't seem to help!

  2. Jenn-
    I have scribbled notes in a million places, but it still is NEVER as good as it sounded IN MY HEAD!

  3. Ooh, I hope you realize that you just summed the creative process for more folks than you know - I too cannot turn off my internal tape recorder that saves everything for transcription later!

    Oh, and I dream with a full soundtrack and cinematography...Us Aquarians, you know?

  4. I think that's the single biggest reason I compose on the computer keyboard rather than with pen on paper. I can type so much faster than I can write longhand, and at least the words in my head have a better chance of being committed to print with the computer.

  5. I agree with ambassador - I think you summed up the creative process for me too... :)

    I love it!!

    take care and happy Tuesday!

  6. Brilliant!

    I can't add anything else. It's been said.

  7. Ambassador-
    I think you are "born on the cusp" as well. Am I right? Even better. Am I right?

    I like working at the keyboard too. It seems like a natural flow...but I am not always able to be there, so I carry a notebook. And I scribble on napkins...

    cool to hear from you. Thanks!

    Ah, you are so freakin' nice to me.