Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Non-Traditional Speeds; An Irish Dance Novel By Meara Kelly

The official "blurb" for my book;

Lorna Wozniak is 25 years old, twenty pounds overweight, has the physical coordination of a three legged hamster, and has never hear Irish music a day in her life - other then the requisite playing of “Danny Boy” and House of Pain every Saint Patrick’s day, which she is sure doesn’t qualify. But all of  that changes when she stumbles into a dance studio on the wrong night of the week. Instead of the thumping base and strident horns of music for Zumba, there are bagpipes and the thumping of feet.

Dhá mBráithre Scoil na Rince na hÉireann – or Two Brothers’ School of Irish Dance, for those who don’t have enough phlegm to try and pronounce the Gaelic – is owned and run by Patrick and Aiden Murphy, brothers who are as dissimilar as could possibly be, except in their love for dance. Their constant, personal rivalry is only overshadowed by their epic rivalry with the neighboring school. Taking a foolish  barroom bet, the brothers find themselves in the position of need to change Lorna from clumsy Adult  Beginner to winning the World Championships in three years time, or face closing their school. 

Not only does she have odds stacked against her, and stigmas to defy, Lorna’s path to the Worlds is made more complicated by the brothers themselves. As Aiden’s obvious affection for Lorna grows, Patrick’s notice of her changes too. Somehow, she has to decide who’s training– and who’s heart- she
will accept.

Now, let's get this sucker written . . . .

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Non-traditional Speeds; A work of Irish Dance fiction for the "old" people?

Hey Gang! Still alive and dancing here. Haven't killed any bratty kids and have managed to get in a better head-space about it again. More details on that in some other post.

By the way, happy early Saint Patrick's day. I know everyone is probably running ragged with shows, parades and parties. I am not. . . .

So, instead I am dedicating some time to a little Irish Dance side project I've been thinking about for year, talking about off and on for about that time, and finally started taking a whack at.

Some of you may know, when I am not spraining ankles, being the laughingstock of children and managing to get better scores than I deserve at feiseanna, I am a writer. And no, not just this strange, oft times Joycean, stream-of-consciousness blog. I have been writing stories and novels from a young age. Luckily, most of my pre-highschool graduation work has been lost to the ravages of time and the world is a better place for it. But for the last ten years I have been working on several pieces - a couple historical pieces, some modern, some tending towards the epic-y other no more then romantic schlock.

But I digress.

Everyone always tells writers, write what you know. The problem is, I know a little bit about lots of things, but there is very little I know well. Irish Dance from a unique perspective just happens to be one of those things.

There is some Irish Dance themed fiction out there - some of it remarkably good. If you haven't read "Awakening" by Christy Dorrity, do it. It may be geared more towards the YA crowd, but I couldn't put the thing down. Read it in less then a day and am anxiously awaiting Book 2.  Fantastic writing.

But that's just the thing, most of the ID fiction out there is geared towards the largest demographic - the younger crowd. And that's ok . . .but I have always thought to my self how fun it would be to have some Irish Dance story geared to my own reading level. And then I got to thinking, that I am not the only Adult Irish Dancer, or Adult Some How Involved With Irish Dance out there, and that maybe there are others out there that would also get some pleasure out of reading the same. I mean, not just late starter like me - Dance mom's waiting for class to be over could kill some time reading, late teen to college age dancers traveling to feis/O's/Nans/Worlds, even people who love watching Irish Dance but aren't involved themselves.

So, with all this thinking, I also remembered - hey, you want to write a book. Why don't you write this grown-up Irish Dance novel that you are always complaning doesn't exist.

So, just recently, I started to.

I've got a synopsis, a basic plot outline, characters in the early stages of development. I kind of like where it is going and  I think it could turn out ok, but I guess I am just worried that maybe I am going to write something geared to too much of a niche market. What do you all think - think Irish Dance fiction would be enjoyable? Would it be something that would interest people, do you think?

I have also thought about perhaps not "publishing" it, in the real sense, but just posting it on Wattpad, or or the like (probably Fictionpress as I already have a account and they are practically the exact same website). Y'know, get a feel if people would actually enjoy what I am putting out there, before I go through the agony of actually trying to put something out there "for real."

Perhaps I should put up a chapter here, or a blurb or something? Let everyone get a taste for it?

Anyway . . .there's lots to think about and I am trying to get the first chapter done, so I've got plenty of time to try and figure out the answers. In the meantime, I will keep jotting down ideas between classes and feiseanna. . . .

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dance Class Update: In which the nine year old has finally made me cry. . .

How does one tell a parent that their child is a little shit-head?

How does one tell a parent that if said little shit-head is being this deliberatly snotty to you - an adult that she barely knows, chances are she is being as equally cruel to her peer-set?

At least, how do you express this without you traumatic experiences with bullying as a child turn you into a screaming neurotic mess?

I mean, I can see how this conversation goes;

me: so, you are nine-year-olds mom?
mom: *beams with pride at her baby* Yes, yes I am.
me: Oh, ok. Your kid is a shit-head.
mom: *gasps in shock* How dare you say that about my precious baby!
me: Well, she's been shitty to me for the past year and a half . . .
mom: she's NINE?!!? You're how old? Thirty? Get over it! She's just a kid . . .

So yeah - not really a conversation that I want to have.

In a futile effort to be fair to this kid, my confidence has already taken a beating from lots of other angles, so it's not like she had to be supremely shitty, to finally get me to crack.

I mean, I've been feeling in rough shape - at least when it comes to my confidence with dance - since my Feis at the beginning of February (that I still haven't blogged about, because my emotions about sway to violently still).  Long story short on the Feis front, it was hard. It was my first time dancing 3 of my dances in novice, and I felt thoroughly unprepaired in every aspect. I hadn't learned my novice steps yet, so I was still dancing my AB moves, wearing my Jumper-of-Frumper against a bunch of girls doing moves I last saw in a YouTube video of an OC Parade of Champions wearing $2000 dresses. I mean, whatever happened to not getting a solo dress until Prizewinner?

Anyway, I technically got three medals at that feis. I feel I can only be proud of one though. I actually got 4th out of 9 in my Novice Reel. That really shocked me. But the other one was a 3rd our of 3 on my Light Jig in Novice is really nothing to write home about, and the last one was a 3rd out of 4, on my AB Treble Jig. Again, don't get too excited. This isn't to sound intentionally cruel or critical of the other dancers, but beating one of them was not particularly hard to do. I could blame the  music - I had said I needed fast but they played slow - but really, I just didn't do well.

But what does this have to do with nine-year-old-shit-head? Well, other then the fact that she really managed to get under my skin at the feis too, and I spent the whole day in a funk after she talked to me ( Me: *sitting in my camp chair, in a corner, minding my own business, putting on my wig/make up  Shit-head: *walks past, sees me, double-takes, walks back, looks me over critcially* You're Meara, right?  Me: Yeah.  I guess the wig makes me look really different, huh?  Shit-head: Woah *sneer, walks away*)

So, lack-luster results, bitchy comments about how I look, another feis without a single soul talking to me (other then shit-head making fun of me), several missed dance classes, an extra five pounds I gained over the whole christmas/holidays/winter thing. . . and yeah, I will admit. I am kind of in a fragile state of mind.

But! I made it to class today. It's a struggle getting there alot of days. I work long weeks. It's a long, sometimes harrowing drive getting out there. I'd like to have some time occasionally just to sleep in and hang out with my fiance. But I went, and I was drilling, doing my steps, working hard. I rolled my left ankle pretty hard right at the begining of class -  second step of my hornpipe, I landed funny. But I was dancing through it. I was trying to baby it, but then incessant leap drills were getting the better of me, so I had to sit out a few bars.

Well, towards the middle-ish of class, TC sends one of the new-new little girls off with the class helper, making a teasing comment "So that way she can stop staring at me like 'I can't do that' every time I have them do the harder stuff." Then turning and smiling at me, she jokes "You know, like Meara does" I don't mind when my TC teases me. She knows I am working my butt off, knows what I can and can't do, etc. But, in the jovial spirit, I laugh, and feign offense. "That's not true!" I protest with much laughter.

But then this shitty little voice out of the back corner of the room, where she is showing off, rather then waiting her gaddam turn to dance says. "Oh, it's true. It's like, totally true. Meara can NEVER do the hard stuff." I turn and shoot her a dirty look, thinking maybe she will shut up, but she doesn't. She turns to one of her friends, and still lauging at my expense says "It's true, she really can't" And they giggle like it's the funniest thing in the world.

So there I stand, ankle still throbbing, exhausted, and giving my all . .. being laughed at.

I know what you are all going to say -God knows I heard it when I got home, still crying. "You are taking it too personally." "She's just a kid" "You are a grown woman with a job and car, who's getting married, you should be past crying when a kid is mean to you."

But here's the thing, hearing that malicious little laughter is like a proverbial Agent Orange flash back and suddenly I am nine years old again, being told I'm weird, being laughed at, being friendless and ignored. Yeah, I'm 27 years old now, but all that means is that my inner nine year old has had to put up with being picked on for 18 years.

I can try to talk myself up all I want. Use all the confidence boosting cliches. Remind myself that I am supposedly so above this. But in the end, it doesn't work. In the end, no matter how hard I work - and there are days where I literarlly feel like I am slowly killing myself doing this - but no matter how hard I work, there is still someone laughing at me.

That kind of thing sticks with you.

Then, to make matters worse, I was rushing out of class to my car, still favoring my left ankle, and I didn't see a pot-hole in the tarmac, stepped right in it, wrenched my right ankle and took a total prat fall in front of like five people.

This has just reaffirmed that I need to drop this class and start going to Monday nights. I don't think this kid goes to that class. I CAN'T keep dealing with her. Today, after leaving class, still crying, I was seriously considering quitting because of this kid. Now THAT would be stupid.

I think I am going to go buy a wedding veil now, to attempt to cheer myself up.

Goals for this week: Keep practicing Novice reel step that I started last class, get to Monday and Wednsday night classes, stop eating . . .