Dance Cards

Image of dance card, By Ewing, Gladys (,98) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
“Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.”

Regency Romances often refer to dance cards. Like most lists, a list of your dance partners for the evening is a great way to be organized. No one is overlooked or forgotten, no one gets more time than they should have, and there’s no risk of forgetting names. It’s also a record of the evening, and there are examples where the lady has made notes – such as “pipsqueak.” I’ve wondered if, years later, a lady might look back through her old cards, and savour, or shudder at, the memories of the men listed there. If I ever tackle a historical, I’ll want to use dance cards, but meanwhile I’ve tried to capture some of my thoughts about dance cards in a poem, published in this month’s Open Heart Forgery.

At the risk of offending poetry purists, I consider writing poetry great exercise for stretching one’s writing skills, and overcoming writer’s block. The shift of form is a change that’s as good as a rest, and you can complete a serviceable poem in a few days. When you are struggling to complete a novel, spending a few hours on something that you can finish boosts confidence.

Today is the first of November, and the beginning of NaNoWriMo. According to my profile there, I drafted Romance One five years ago. Since then, it’s been completely re-drafted – twice. It’s also been rejected by Harlequin, revised, and is currently getting its third re-draft. You can see why I might want some proof that I can actually finish something. The good news is that it is a better story than it was five years ago, and I have made progress on other writing projects too. It’s another, older, project, a cozy, also on its third rewrite, that is my priority for NaNoWriMo this year.

Fortunately, I enjoy the writing process. In the past five years I’ve finished and published enough short things here and there that I feel comfortable calling myself a writer. Still, I’d like to get a novel done – at least one, though I have several drafted. This year I made a New Year’s resolution to work one hour a week on Romance One, and I kept that resolution through August before some traveling knocked me off schedule. My latest effort to organize my life to include writing is a list. Everyday, I do something on my writing list (this blog post being one example).

Some people claim if you have to make an effort to include writing in your life, you are not sufficiently motivated. Hogwash. I have to make an effort to include grocery shopping in my life, including lists of what to purchase. There’s no lack of motivation to eat, write, or dance: lists help keep everything on track.