I did not grow up in the digital and technological age, so I do all my writing in longhand in various journals. Then I transfer it to a document in the computer and edit while I type. Obviously, I am definitely not a fan of using a computer for creative writing. Not only do computers crash without warning and lose everything I didn’t have a chance to save, but every file looks the same – the titles are lined up in the same column, in the same size font, no attractive cover, no satisfaction of turning the page and seeing how the process is progressing, and no visual evidence that things have wrapped up, resolved, and been brought to a close.
Not only can you not turn a page on the computer and feel the thick stack of pages in your right hand get smaller while the stack in your left hand gets bigger, but you can’t even emphatically close the finished book with satisfactory finality and turn to something new. On a computer, it all looks and sounds the same – the same bright screen accompanied by the soft tap-tap-tap of the keyboard. I know, I know, the computer is very efficient.
However, writing your thoughts and expressing your heart are not supposed to be efficient. They’re supposed to be therapeutic, or cathartic, or of benefit to someone, or enlightening, or inspiring, or just entertaining. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of writing as an art or activity that needs to be efficient.
After a couple of years of constantly scribbling my ideas, I finally filled up another three-inch thick writing notebook, so I started a brand new one. It’s a different color than my previous one, and it’s filled with hundreds of blank pages that smell brand new.
Dancers may be visual in their art, but that art is really a tangible peek into the unique and creative feelings that no one else can see. Dancers, painters, and sculptors enable the rest of the world to see what is invisible but universally experienced. That’s why a change in the exterior, like a new house, a new haircut, or in my case, a new color journal, evokes or reveals an emotional change or inspiration. People go shopping for new clothes, not worn out, dirty ones. When we get a new hairstyle, or a new pair of shoes, we are in a different mood. When I was a little girl, new sneakers made me feel on top of the world!
We still have to remember that traditions are important. They keep us grounded and cognizant of what we’re built on. They give us a home base and remind us of the important fundamentals and our personal convictions. Traditions also constantly bring us wonderful memories with our families and friends.
BUT – we can trap ourselves in traditions by being afraid to be unique or individual. We can become more concerned with the tradition itself than what the tradition is for. If the tradition is meant to remind you of where you come from and important values, then, great! Traditions should give us the security and confidence to be creative and progressive, because we know we are pulling a rich history along with us. But if a tradition is actually wrapping us in chains that won’t allow any forward motion, then the intent of the tradition is gone. The intent of traditions should be to instill character in generations yet to come while retaining the integrity of the truths we learned from the generations past. Being stagnant is not tradition. When living things become stagnant, they perish. So do dreams.
Remember your traditions, yet have the courage to try something new. Okay, I will even try doing some writing directly on the computer! Be proud of and value your past without being afraid to be a future version of yourself. And always,
Robin Conrad Sturm is the primary ballet instructor and Executive and Artistic Director of the Northern Virginia Dance Academy and the Asaph Dance Ensemble. Robin recently won InsideNoVa’s Best Author in Prince William honors and also writes a blog. Contact her at Northern Virginia Dance Ensemble: www.nvdance.net/wp/ or call 703- 330-5227.