I’ve hinted around here and there about the title of my work-in-progress book, A Pretty Girl Who Can Dance, but I’ve only talked about it to a handful of friends. I think it’s time to share it publicly because:
A. I don’t cry about it anymore.
B. I want people to understand that the title isn’t a boast.
C. I think it might help others.
A couple of years ago I was hired by a talent agency to be a go-go dancer/hoop dancer at Boogie Nights, Hollywood Casino. On Saturday nights I would dance from 9pm – 2am for 45-minute stretches, taking breaks each hour to drink plenty of water and stretch my muscles. I had an intuitive feeling that it wouldn’t last. I knew it wasn’t the right environment for me; although I love to hoop dance, I do so in a joyful way that celebrates movement and expression rather than to serve as tantalizing entertainment in a bar. But the pay was great, and I had a wonderful time, until I had words with the talent agency. The Boogie Nights management lied about things like the amount of time that I was dancing each night. One night, they told me that I could go home early because the club was dead, and it was, so I did. Later, I received an email that the talent agency forwarded to me, unedited, from the management. Apparently they were unhappy with many of the dancers who were getting booked. This is what I received:
I’ll give you a moment to process that.
Imagine how I felt… As an adult, I’ve always had a relatively average self-esteem. It takes a little more than that to be able to perform, but that’s easy to fake, trust me. But even attaining that average self-esteem was a long road. I was devastated by the email. Temporarily.
The aftermath of this shows up in my book. I needed to write about it, to heal, so I came up with this blog post on Three Reasons to Always Say Yes. It was my subtle way of saying that I wasn’t going to regret dancing at Boogie Nights. The email, however, was burned into my mind. Eventually, I considered that it would be a great book title. A story about an insecure girl who gains enough confidence to dance in front of others, who becomes great enough to teach and be paid to perform, who gets a slap in the face, who falls, who rises and continues on. The story’s beginning is as solid as stone, but think of the ways it could have ended. She could have stopped dancing altogether.
So, friends, I have this advice to share with you, in case you or your art have ever been, or ever are insulted.
• Process it, and acknowledge the pain.
• Give yourself some distance from it.
• Talk about it! I went from crying when I repeated the words, to a sense of indifference, which is where I still am.
• Find a way to channel the negative into a positive.
This last one is the most satisfying, trust me. You don’t have to write a book about it, but you can draw a picture, write a journal entry, or dance a dance. The key is to not let the words of someone else hinder you. Let them fertilize your flower, because if it’s truly an insult, then it’s likely nothing but horse sh*t.
Peace, love, and fire,