Monday, October 31, 2005

How to Dance With Your Soul

[No, this isn't a Halloween post. Or Grim Fandango, for that matter.]

Writing is not at all dissimilar to courting a girl. You groom yourself with gusto, you bring out the flowers and sweets, and you arm yourself with the best words you can muster. But of course you can also end up downtrodden, you can curse the sun and earth, you can spew out the vilest of invectives. You try to make the right choices, but here and there you commit a few missteps — sometimes many — and end up back at square one.

Such is the intertwined fate of writer and suitor. They both learn to dance with life, to flow with its twists and turns, to value its nuances. They both learn to tap into the deepest alcoves of the soul, and dance with whatever they may harness from within. They can tango with anger, cha-cha with love, waltz with hope, swing with despair, jig with frustration, glide with joy.

If the physical dance — the one we see actualized everyday through sweating bodies and gyrating motions — is the dance of the body, then it’s not at all ridiculous to call writing the dance of the soul. Poetry and prose are how the inner spirit tries to express itself, be it through flamboyant weaving of words or no-frills use of language. The same holds true for music and the visual arts, and to a certain extent, the courting of a girl (especially if one claims to have a beloved girl as his very soul).

But of course, before one can easily flow into the motions of the dance, he or she must first learn its steps. Like the corporeal boogie, there are an infinite number of steps which one can take to master the groove. And so with writing. Every person to his own approach; after all, no two souls are alike. Maybe akin, but not identical. As long as it works for you, and after pursuing the steps your soul gets all fired up and restless to burn the midnight candle, then you’d have already mastered the dance of your soul.

One of Hemingway’s steps was to sharpen twelve pencils (I think). In all probability there exists a poet who needs to make torrid love with his wife before being able to rhyme, and maybe a fictionist who eats a whole large-sized bar of white Toblerone before penning a short story. For my part, because I’m just a simple writer with no acclaim to my name, my steps are terse and quick to perform. And because the same style holds true for my exploits in love — which are unfortunately unfortunate — I shan’t be able to resist the temptation to compare the two.

First and foremost before writing any piece, I turn on the PC, plop down onto my monobloc chair, and reflect for a moment, just as I would plop down on the bed and flick on the switch within my brain which reads “Courting 101”. Second, I’d read other works, be it a chapter from a Tolkien book, or a poem by Jose Garcia Villa, or even one of my previous attempts at literature. It’s not at all dissimilar to my getting inspired by my friends’ dazzling feats in love, or xeroxing my own patented ‘da moves’ which always fail to, well, succeed.

Having done that, I’d open a word processor, preferably MS Word, OpenOffice, or Notepad (my illegible handwriting is hardly conducive to my attitude of perpetual revising and self-doubt) and start fiddling with the margins, font style and size, and other minutiae, me being some sort of an obsessive-compulsive git. This resembles my fidgeting with my clothes, hairdo and perfume before making a grand salvo on a damsel.

Last, and of course ‘but not the least’, I write — rather, type — the first of my thoughts, which would hopefully be the birth of a good piece. This is the courting process itself, replete with the stammerings and sweatings, the furrowing of the brows, the puckerings of the mouth, the horrible speechless seconds, and of course the occasional heartbreaks. Alas for me, there is no ‘Undo’ option (ah yes, the omnipotent ‘Ctrl-Z’) in love.

You see, that’s a mere four steps in learning how to dance with your soul. Not guaranteed to produce the best results, or even have results at all, but hey, it works for me — these little shuffles I do before I get into the groove.


Blogger Abaniko said...

if you liken writing to dancing, indeed, i have two left feet.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

i don't believe that's true! :) people go to your blog because you can express your thoughts clearly through writing, which is the most important thing.

4:33 PM  
Blogger bing said...

i dont have rituals when i write - i write when my mind seems void of sensibilities, or full of positive or negative emotions, or when i spotted a phrase on teevee, or when i heard someone say something, or a thought comes across. then while working or doing something, i would simultaneously think of what to write, or when i was about to go to sleep, i would form thoughts, then dream of them. i do have a favorite place though where i could write without the nuisance - my office where i am all alone. that's it - no rituals he he

5:25 PM  
Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Fascinating insight. Admirable style. Impressive vocabulary. I shall be stopping by again to delight in your writings.

BTW, the number 9, according to Lennon is the highest number in the universe; after which are mere multiples, he said.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to bing: "i would form thoughts, then dream of them" -- i envy you! :D you are definitely lucky to have such a place, madame. i have always to contend with a noisy house and an equally-noisy office.

to senor enrique: i must admit that I'm flattered by those words. thank you very much.

double thanks for that trivia on the number 9 -- makes me feel good two times over, too :) everybody loves to have their fave numbers exalted, haha.

1:46 AM  
Blogger ia said...

and it takes great courage to write, court, and draw the thread that binds all these things that brought you tears and hate.

but are 'da moves' really that scripted? i find planning for and practicing those things one of the silliest things about men. it's so.... fake!

i don't know if i have two left feet in any of the dances you have referred to, but so far, i enjoy the jive.

2:31 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to ia: that's a nifty way of putting it -- "draw the thread that binds all these things that brought you tears and hate". i love it. absolutely.

not all 'da moves' are scripted! but an unscripted 'da move' has a one in a million chance of being a good move. hehe, from experience.

enjoy it, ia-chan. i'll be enjoying it, too, as long as you do :)

2:48 AM  
Blogger transience said...

how interesting! i don't think i have any specific rituals before i write. i just have to have one feeling down. the one where i feel everything is right. does that make sense?

8:12 PM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to transience: certainly, dearie. write when it's right to write. sounds good to me.

p.s. new profile image, eh? looks refreshing, though i miss the old one :)

1:13 AM  
Anonymous kita said...

eloquent as ever...this rings true to every writer. ritual is inescapable, its the mind's introductory bars to the chaotic music that follows.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to kita: thanks. you put it nicely -- "introductory bars to the chaotic music that follows". though some writers would find that chaos as order..take me, for example ;)

7:26 PM  
Blogger olrayt said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:17 PM  
Blogger olrayt said...

ang daming palang lapis ni hemingway :D

10:20 PM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to olrayt: oo nga e. parang ayoko ngang maniwala nung nabasa ko yun dati, hehe.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous coffeelover said...

This is a very interesting piece, something to ponder about. The dance of the soul is indeed similar to the dance of courtship. Even for women, one has to put the best foot forward, think about what she is supposed to say, make "da moves" so the suitor does what she hopes for. But just like in writing, the best moment is when courtship (or love even) takes a life of its own and pens your own story for you.

8:43 PM  

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