Three weeks ago, I wiped out at dance class.
All things considered, I had it coming, really. I've been doing Irish dance for nearly three years and I had yet to fall. It's like when you go ice skating--inevitably, you will eventually fall. For Irish dance, skipping around on the balls of your feet, crossing one foot in front of another as best you can, and then adding in all the other complicated footwork that comes with more advanced steps...yeah, you're just going to eventually hit the floor.
So I wasn't exactly surprised.
Our dance teacher had decided to start drilling those of us planning to compete in August on our solo steps. Reels, to be exact, but likely very few of you will know what that even means. For competition, we have to do two full steps, back-to-back. I somehow came out of my first step weird, and when I went into the start of my second, my ankles twisted around each other and I fell sideways.
I'm told it was a very graceful fall. For me, it just seemed comically slow. I had enough time between my ankles getting knotted and finally hitting the ground to think "huh, I'm falling."
After I fell, I sat back up and waited for my dance friend to finish the step I'd epically screwed up (hint: I wasn't supposed to faceplant). My poor dance teacher, who seems frequently afraid of breaking us, was freaking out a little, asking me over and over if I was okay. I kept telling her I was.
"I'm fine! Really! I'm good!"
I got back to my feet, ignoring the twinging in my ankles, and went back to the spot on the floor where we'd started. My dance teacher suggested nervously that we try the steps again.
She looked at me warily for a while before then asking if I really wanted to, making sure once again that I was okay.
"I'm good! Back on the horse! Let's go!"
(To note: I really was talking with exclamation points. It's likely, looking back on it, that I was slightly hysterical. And I feel like my voice was about an octave higher than it usually is when I talk. I don't know why this was. Feigning confidence, perhaps, or maybe I was trying not to laugh. Whatever the case, it's no wonder my dance teacher seemed worried that I had done myself more harm than I had.)
She kind of looked at me like she didn't really believe me, but let me carry on. We did the two steps again, and this time I didn't screw it up. I danced the remaining 45 minutes of class on two sore ankles. In retrospect, this was a mistake, because I really should have wrapped my right ankle (my notoriously bad ankle) right away. As it was, I only put my ankle brace on for the walk to the parking garage after, then iced my ankles when I got home. A few days of ankle pain later, I was good as new.
This past week marked the release of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist list (there's a connection, I promise. Stick with me).
I never really thought I had a chance to make the top 50 of the YA category. In fact, I'd been pretty freaking surprised when I'd made it to the Quarterfinals (top 250 out of 5000). So while I was nervously waiting to see if somehow a miracle would occur, I was mostly panicking about the looming Publishers Weekly review that was going to come with the announcement.
I hadn't been panicking, though, until I read an old thread on the ABNA discussion boards where last year's Quarterfinalists were sharing their PW reviews. And then I suddenly realized how unbelievably harsh some of the PW reviewers are. That's pretty much when the panic set in.
I'd more or less decided, since I never expected to make Semifinals anyway, that my degree of disappointment would be contingent on that review. If I didn't make it, but my review was either good or, at the very least, not mean, then I'd be okay. If I didn't make it, but my review was one of the ones that makes people go "OUCH", then I'd need a whole lot of chocolate.
So the Semifinals list was posted. I wasn't on it. I kind of got over it quickly, though. Then I, and 499 other writers, waited anxiously for the posting of the reviews.
They finally went up about half an hour before I left work. Good thing, that, because...well...it meant I could stock up on chocolate on my way home from work, rather than having to make a special trip.
My review was definitely an "OUCH" review.
So after I got over the shock of getting a review like that, and after I purchased much chocolate, I went home...and that night I revised a chapter in the novel I'm currently fixing. Part of this was because I wanted to submit something to writers group for Saturday, and hadn't realized that I hadn't fixed this one chapter after my critique partner had looked over it several weeks ago (oops).
But part of the reason was because I needed to prove to myself that I could. I needed to get back on the horse. I needed to get up off the floor and do the steps again on two sore ankles (see? Told you I'd connect it).
I didn't let myself mourn the bad review until the next day. That's when I let myself feel the heartache. But my immediate response to getting such a harsh review, other than eating chocolate, was to write something. Anything. Even if it was only a handful of sentences. Even if it was just fixing a chapter I should have fixed weeks ago. I had to do something.
So I did. And then I wrapped and iced my wounds and am now letting them heal.
In a couple of days, I'll be good to dance the writing dance again and I'll just be able to laugh and say that it was inevitable I was going to fall eventually.
It's just what happens when you put your writing out there.