My daughter (in yellow on the right) and her class at the recital, 2011

Friday night was the annual dance recital for my studio, The Elizabeth Williams School of Dance.  I had a chance to sing in the finale and apparently it was a surprise to some that I actually have a voice.  I like surprising people.  I don’t necessarily want to be labeled as odd, I prefer to see myself more as a magician who reaches into their bag of tricks to delight the audience.  You would think, given this, that I would be the type of person to shun clichés – yet, I use them like there is no tomorrow.  Much like the word of the month club I am part of, I seem to grasp at clichés and hold them close to my chest.  It isn’t as though I find them witty or cute.  No!  I actually don’t realize I have used them until after I can’t seem to take them back.  I think if anyone cared to follow me around during the day and note what I said, they would be blown away by the sheer amount of times I utter a cliché.

My mind is a complex place to be, and believe me I don’t use that statement lightly.  Those who know me realize my mind is in constant action.  My thoughts are like whirling dervishes who just need a little incentive to get moving.  The clichés, I believe, end up being a bit of a crutch to my mind.  There is a cliché about clichés: “Haste encourages them, but more often they spring from mental laziness.”  That statement hurts.  I am finding more and more as I do research into writing that I need to slow down.  I need to concentrate fully on what I am writing.  I know I have the tools necessary to become a writer, but I need to get out of the lazy man’s way of thinking in regard to it.  I fall back on clichés and certain words because I don’t always take the time to think of a new or exciting way to express my thoughts.  I am the type of person whose thoughts manifest as pictures in my mind, so I must translate those thoughts into words before speaking or writing.  I have an entire dictionary rolling around in this head, but I don’t always allow it to surface.   It doesn’t help that more than half the time I sit down to write I am in a constant state of interruption.  Even if I wait for the children to go to bed, I find I am in demand.  For the most part, I relish the distractions in my life – for they are what makes up my life, but I believe that it is those very distractions that cause me to fall back on bad habits.

One would think that this self discovery would be painful, and at times it is.  For the most part, I am enjoying the process.  I like seeing where my writing is lacking and taking the time to perfect it.  It makes me happy to see where I am making mistakes, surprisingly enough (see, I surprise even myself at times).  It is impossible to grow without making mistakes.  If you don’t even see them in the first place, or aren’t self-aware, the process is even more difficult.  There are so many people in the world who continually make mistakes and they have absolutely no idea.  What is worse is the person who excuses their actions or refuses to see that an error was made in the first place.  I am not trying to imply that I am better than anyone, just that practicing the art of self-awareness has served me well over the years.

This upcoming week I am venturing into new territory and new books from my list.  I am going to be reading Stephen King’s books on writing.  “Stand” still affects me to this day and I am looking forward to reading about how he approaches the craft.  I have no doubt I will gain insights into writing that I have overlooked in the past, or discover new approaches to writing I hadn’t even considered.   I have always loved the visions he placed in my mind, even when they brought nightmares. I love his ability to describe and allow the mind to take over in the creation process.  I can’t wait to share with you the insights I gain!