I have a little secret to confess. A few weekends ago, while my husband and son were camping with the Boy Scouts, my 7 year-old and I watched Fred Astaire movies. Friday night, it was “Let’s Dance”, a 1950 musical extravaganza co-starring Betty Hutton. Saturday, it was “Easter Parade” co-starring Judy Garland.
My daughter watched transfixed, giggling in awe, as Astaire danced on pianos, tipped chairs with magical finesse, and twirled his dancing partners who tapped right along side him in shiny shoes and swirling skirts. “Just like me!” my daughter declared. Then both nights, she jumped up and, in almost perfect imitation, joined in the dance numbers.
As writers, we, too, should indulge in our own versions of the Fred Astaire movie marathon. For me, that means reading, reading, reading! Each week I lug home a bag full of picture books from the library. Some are classics I knew and loved as a child. Others are new books by contemporary authors. I read them to myself, to the kids, to the dog and as I do I analyze what makes them work or not. I examine each tap and twirl and leap of their story lines to figure out how they’re put together. I keep a little notebook beside me, to jot down what works and why. Then, tapping my fingers to the keyboard, I join in the tapping and twirling as I play with words and plot in my own stories, applying what I’ve learned from the experts. I treasure this special reading/writing time. How about you? What’s your writerly version of the Fred Astaire movie marathon?