Thursday, August 16, 2012

Competing passions - or complementary?

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
― Voltaire

When someone asks me what I do, I hesitate to answer.  I have to look around and remind myself where I am, what venue am I responding in. Is this a dance group of people? Then I tell them I teach ballet.  Is this a writerly group?  Then I am a novelist.

In truth, I am both. And I am equally passionate about both. If I had to give up one over the other, well, I think it would be like Sophie's Choice for me.  Ha!  Seriously, though, my writing fuels my creative fire just as much as ballet does but in a very different way. 

Writing is a solitary pursuit with feedback only provided in the far distant future. I might think a story is fantastic only to find, a few months or a year later, that a reader doesn't get it at all. On the other hand, when I teach, I receive feedback instantaneously.  I know when something is working and when it isn't. 

As an artist, you need and appreciate both types of responses from your audience.  You can create in a vacuum but you certainly can't make progress that way.  At some point, you need to come out of your cave and present your art to someone else who doesn't know and love you already.  You need objective feedback. What you do with it from then is entirely up to you!  In my case, as a writer, I may go back and rewrite if someone has a problem with a story I wrote and as a teacher, if a student isn't understanding my corrections, I can consider a new approach.

Or not.  That's my prerogative as an artist.

I've known so many dancers who are also attorneys or agents or therapists or designers. They would no sooner give up ballet than they would give up those non-dance careers. While ballet does require you to focus solely on it should you choose it as a singular career (and the number of people who can do that is truly infinitesimal), there is no reason you need to give it up if you have another means of earning a living that you love. If your passion is there, you will find a way to keep it in your life.

Happy dancing~

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