Dancer, Tessa Priem, creator of "Inner Reformation: an Autobiography Danced" & the book
Hi, everyone. I'm keeping a record as I write my book. I did something similar while creating my dance. What shall I share today? Two things: 1) the progress on my written autobiography, and 2) on what's next.
What was the second session of binge-writing like: Fun question! I didn't anticipate chapters 9-12 taking so long to write (two weeks). At most, I perceived a week. I didn't expect to share all that I did--I didn't hide anything in the writing. For this reason, each chapter became progressively harder to pen. Chapter 12 was the most challenging. It took an entire week to write. Overall, this second binge-writing was emotional, even grueling. I was exhausted at the end of the process!
How has editing been going: I love editing. Like obsessing over each move in my dance, so I fixate on making my writing better. I love working with my editors. Each is perfect for who I am. Being a tedious person, editing/perfecting suits my personality. Somehow, my editor has chosen visualizations that apply to my life. Without knowing me, she chose a box and a music box. I had to close my eyes and imagine my book fitting inside these. At the end of the box visualization, I threw my papers into the air. Afterward, I sobbed like a baby in front of my editor. (Note: it is only because of that visualization that I dared to write chapters 9-12, knowing that I could not hide anything). With the music box, I held the box to my chest and smiled. She has no idea how these visualizations are eerily familiar to my life story. I love my editors.
Now that your rough draft is complete, how are you feeling: I'm thankful to be done and proud, but self-doubt has never been greater. My mind keeps asking, "Did I write the right story?" Fear is screaming. Thankfully, the book won't be published tomorrow! I had tons of self-doubt while creating my dance, but nothing like this. For fear, I even wonder if a soul will read it; will I let them? If the book remains as is, nothing else like it exists. Even I gasp at individual words and paragraphs, and I've lived the story for 23 years now (almost 37, if I count my entire life). In other words, the tale is not new to me, yet always remains surprising.
How has COVID affected your writing: I anticipated penning the book in one year, around one chapter per month. Again, I officially began this writing project on October 31, 2019 (writing the first chapter & Introduction on a writing retreat in November, 2019). COVID provided the opportunity and inspiration to finish the book NOW. Even so, this autobiography remains a five-year project. I hope to complete editing by this time next year, if not sooner. In five years, I'll pen the epilogue.
What are your biggest fears about your writing at this point: Of course, I fear to hurt people, saying something insensitive or writing something false, etc. I fear that I'll harm someone's reputation, or that I shouldn't be writing the book. I fear that I could ruin my children's life or lose all that matters to me. I fear fame. I fear that I've written the wrong book, and will have to entirely re-write it. Most of all, I fear that I will lose my faith and that many people will come to hate me (I'm not kidding!). For example, if my life goes the way that I don't want it to go (i.e., the opposite of what I've written in my book), then I'll have to make a tough decision and likely be alienated from most of my support structures. In which case, how can you make a story like that happy? All of these are deeply terrifying thoughts to me. All of this sounds intense, I know! It is. It's why I cry. A LOT!
How do you counter these fears: By working on things that I can control, and by letting my faith speak what is within me, deeply listening to it. The concerns cannot have the upper hand, though they about make me give up in art and life, almost daily. This is no joke! If you lived with me, you would see my weekly, if not daily, agitation. I also get permission from people to include them in my dance and book. This lets my mind rest, and I will always make myself the ultimate bad guy in my writing. If I'm going to blame anyone, I will blame me. So rest assured, if you're in my book, you're not the enemy. I may say something "bad" about you, but I'll say something worse about myself.
What are some tough questions that you've been asked so far in the making of this book: "Don't you feel bad writing about that person; isn't that inconsiderate of you?" "Are you sure this writing project is worth it; what if it comes back to haunt you and your family?" "Are you sure you aren't exaggerating this story; I don't know if I can believe you." And before writing my book, "You aren't owning up to your story." That's the wrong thing to tell someone like me and is 100% inaccurate. It only fuels my flame!
Tell us one fun thing about your editing process: I read my writing over and over to myself using different accents, mostly British.
What's next for you, Tessa: I plan to run around nude. Seriously, I will probably do that someday. You've been forewarned. In the meantime, I will keep perfecting my dance and working towards showing it again. I will edit my book and finish my Outdoor Dance Project. I'll keep writing my Luke/Acts 2020 Bible study. Here very shortly, I will officially begin recording my, "Finding a Way to Thrive" project. Stay tuned! I'm so excited about this project I could burst.
To read more about my writing project, see my other blog posts (Writing #1, Writing #2, Writing #3, Writing #4). Here's a FB entry regarding the showing in my basement of my dance project--halfway through--six months into the creation of my solo dance show. Here is a FB post from when my children couldn't be with me because I was so sick in 2013 (my daughter was young, away from her mommy).
Note: links to the original writings are just that, the originals! They are not the edited, official versions.
If you want to learn more about all I do, visit my about page! Of course, the best way to keep up on Inner Reformation is to follow me on Facebook & Instagram. You can also subscribe to Inner Reformation on Youtube where I post all kinds of lovely outdoor dance videos. Feel free to like, share, or comment on this post. Finally, if you need to reach me, feel free to contact me. Enjoy the journey! Love, Tessa
Hi, my name is Tessa. I'm a dancer, choreographer, writer, performer, and digital art maker--the creator of the solo show "Inner Reformation: an Autobiography Danced." It's my life story danced out! I began creating my solo show on October 31, 2016. Now (October 31, 2019), I seek to put my life story into words. I'm allowing myself five years to complete my written autobiography; it's an adventure! Feel free to leave comments, share, "like" these blog posts, and so forth. If you need anything, just write!