Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Rhythm Method - Joan Lennon

Writers lead multiple lives. Like Doctor Who, we have two heart beats (minimum). We dance to several different drummers at once. While the right hand rubs the head, the left hand pats the tummy, and the feet do a ragtime shuffle.

I just finished re-jigging one book and editing another. They had to happen at the same time if I wanted to dance with these particular publishers. And I did. So I did. A little bit of presto agitato never hurt anybody, right? Things like the state of my desk or my laundry basket carried on a sort of ground bass grumble throughout, but I'm good at ignoring them. Just white noise. Actual people don't fade into the background so conveniently, but with a bit of fancy footwork, you can respond like a human being as well.

But the second - the second - the music stopped (bow to your partner, smile and step away) and those bits of work were sent in, the other books that had been wallflowering all this time leapt onto the floor and into my face.


All of them. All at once. Factor in this scratchy throat that's been incubating for the last few days, the sudden heart-sinking discovery that I'm meant to be blogging on ABBA today, a neglected internet platform, and the shameful admission that I haven't phoned my ancient mother all week, and there you have it - rhythm AND blues.

There is madness in the method, but what would you choose to say no to?

Ginger Rogers famously said of Fred Astaire, "I do everything he does, only backwards, and in heels."

Add in "and to a different beat" and a writer's life is a lot like that.

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Lindsey Fraser said...

Multi-tasking to a beat - I am in awe, Ms Lennon.

Susan Price said...

No word of a lie, Joan, but the sweet truth itself.

Susan Price said...

No word of a lie, Joan, but the sweet truth itself.

Penny Dolan said...

Stuck in a slow fox trot with a gloomy partner at the moment (metaphorically! she adds quickly) but this turnaround of tales sounds more like riverdancing at full speed. Hope the tricky steps get smoother.

Linda Strachan said...

Lovely, Joan. Sounds just like my life - to music!

madwippitt said...

Thank you for expaining it all so clearly!
I'm tone deaf and have no sense of rhythmn, so now I not only know where I've been going wrong all this time, but have an excuse for it!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Brilliant post Joan! But you'll have to train them to do 'formation dancing' so they're all in step! That kind when all the couples stoop and bend and do the reverse turn or the double reverse spin at the same time!

Sue Purkiss said...

Brilliant! And thank you for the photo of the utterly fantastic Fred and Ginger. One day I'm going to dance like that. You'll see.

Stroppy Author said...

This is how my life should be... but in fact they are all flailing around the dance floor cutting in on each other! When it works well, it is just as you say, Joan. But I have about ten books blundering around and they don't seem to have had any dancing lessons.