On Thursday of this week I am going into hospital to have an operation on my foot because the joint in one of my toes is completely trashed. I’ve been putting it off for ages but it’s finally become too painful to be avoided any longer. It’s not the operation that I dread, it’s the fact that I won’t be able to walk properly for weeks afterwards and that means, no dancing.
For the last two years I’ve been going to dancing classes once or twice a week. The dance I’ve been learning is called Lindy Hop and it’s very vigorous No doubt, this has a lot to do with the condition of my toe. But I don’t regret it because I enjoy the classes so much. Apart from the sheer physical fun and the pleasure of interacting with so many different people, it’s about the only time I forget all about writing.
The rest of the time, there’s a narrator and editor at work in my head arguing non-stop about plot lines and characters, voice and tone, phrasing and cadence and all the rest of the writer’s bag of tricks. But when I dance, they are forced to shut up and my head is filled with a kind of white stillness.
At least, that’s what happens when I dance well. I have to be honest and admit that frequently the editor and narrator are simply replaced by a movement coordinator who spends his time saying things like ‘Am I supposed to be turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?’ or ‘Which foot do I start with?’ Nevertheless, those moments when my body is perfectly in time to the music, when I stop worrying about what I should be doing next, or what I look like to other people, make it all worth while.
In that sense dancing it’s just like writing since there are wonderful moments in the writing process when you entirely lose your awareness of your self and the story seems to write itself. But it’s using a different part of the brain and it’s altogether more sociable. On Thursday, however, it all stops for at least two months and then there will be no escape from the blank page that I carry in my head