Thursday, March 30, 2017

The 64 Pirouettes by Virginia McCullough

Have you noticed how many author bios and introductions start with a line or two of creative history? Joanne wrote her first story at age three, or, Gloria entertained her dolls with harrowing tales of…  I used to envy the Joannes and Glorias their early forays into the writing life, especially because I didn’t think of myself as particularly creative. But eventually I wondered if I’d dismissed my own creative history simply because I hadn’t put pen to paper. I forgot about all the experiences that contributed to my “inner writer.” And I’m not alone.

Many years ago, I began coaching aspiring authors who (mostly) wanted to write nonfiction books. I began asking these clients to jot down their creative history, something I’d done for myself. For example, maybe I hadn’t written stories in kindergarten, but I’d designed elaborate wardrobes for my adventurous families of paper dolls. I dabbled in music (rather badly) and took violin lessons from an old man with thick glasses and tufts of white hair. He lived on Mozart Street—no kidding!


I also studied dance with a Russian-trained teacher—no nonsense, please! That experience taught me about flow, and when I was “in the zone” no inner critic could spoil the joy of creativity. One of the best gifts I ever got. I eventually discovered that discipline is transferable, that mental skills learned in dance training would benefit my writing life.

Although no one ever told me I wrote well, an inner urge led me to start writing articles in my mid-twenties when I was at home raising kids. Later, I moved on to nonfiction books and ghostwriting, still believing I wasn’t particularly creative. Don’t we make these distinctions in writing? We have nonfiction, and then there’s creative writing. What a myth that turned out to be. 

In the spirit of nothing is wasted, when my coaching clients pieced together a creative history, their confidence went up a notch or two. I heard it in their voices and saw it in their work. They had connected the creative dots.



I can trace the figure skater, Perrie Lynn, gliding gracefully across the ice in Girl in the Spotlight (book one of my first Heartwarming series), to the exhilarated girl in the dance studio doing sixty-four pirouettes in a row. When I watch figure skaters, I move along with them in body, mind, and spirit. I feel the discipline and passion that allow these artist-athletes to perform a four-minute program immersed in the magical zone. And I felt that all over again when I wrote the scenes showing Perrie Lynn on the ice.



Isn’t it fun to know the creativity expressed in one pursuit doesn’t wander off and die when we’re done with a project, but just pops up somewhere new? Makes me kinda glad to be alive!  

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Virginia McCullough's debut Harlequin Heartwarming novel, Girl in the Spotlight, is scheduled for a June 2017 release. For more information, visit her website at www.VirginiaMcCullough.com.

31 comments:

  1. Welcome to the Heartwarming author group, Virginia!

    I agree that discipline is transferrable. It's benefited me in sports, business and writing.

    Thank you for this intriguing glimpse into your debut Heartwarming release, Girl in the Spotlight. Best wishes with it, and I hope you will have many more releases following it!

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    1. I'm very excited about the June release. And congratulations on Sanctuary Cove!

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  2. Welcome to Harlequin Heartwarming, Virginia! Especially glad to have you in our lineup now that I know you value discipline as much as passion! :)

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    1. I've had such a warm welcome to this group of authors so generous with support and willingness to help out a newcomer! Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Hi Virginia, welcome and congratulations on your upcoming release! The concept of a "creative history" is interesting and I suppose we all have it, perhaps from childhood games of pretend. I wonder how the tech. age will alter those games in future generations? As to discipline......the necessary ingredient in the creative mix, as you say. All the best with both and continued success.

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    1. Oh, I think we all have a creative history, and I just noted that some individuals need to be reminded about that--odd how quickly their confidence came back. I've also wondered how imagination will change with technology. Somehow, though, the creative urge will survive no matter what.

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  4. Congratulations, Virginia, on your debut novel for Heartwarming! Can't wait to read it. I love ice skating. I too did a wardrobe for my dolls. Didn't realize that and all those dance lessons were part of my creative history. Great post!

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    1. I still think about finding pages in glossy magazines to use for the paper doll clothes! Odd, too, I didn't play with dolls much after I was school age. But those paper dolls stayed in stored in a box for a long time!

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  5. Congratulations on your debut, Virginia! "I eventually discovered that discipline is transferable." Without a doubt and for me, it's a little addictive too. I'm looking forward to reading your release. I was a big ice and roller skater when I was younger.

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    1. Forgot about roller skating...in the city, we used them as transportation! Such fun.

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  6. Congratulations on your debut. How exciting and I bet you can hardly wait till June arrives. smile ANd yes, it is wonderful to be able to use your experiences and strengthen your characters. Your novel sounds really great. Best wishes.

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    1. You're right! I can't wait for June. Every months I see so many wonderful books from the group here.

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  7. Virginia, I love blogs that take the reader back as yours did. We are similar in that I, too, took disastrous violin lessons and awkward ballet classes. I didn't find my calling until I picked up a pencil - although I spent long hours as a child with a white half slip on my head (my veil) and looking in the mirror. Congrats on your debut.
    Cynthia

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    1. I still laugh about this long-suffering violin teacher on Mozart street. I can almost hear the screech I made, not to mention when I decided to sing along. Ouch! I ended up living in the same neighborhood many years later...this was in Chicago, where I grew up. Around the corner from Mozart!

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  8. Congratulations. I loved reading about your other artistic forays.

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    1. I can see you have many forays into all kinds of areas, too. My nonfiction took me into all kinds of worlds! Thanks.

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  9. Hi, Virginia. Nice to meet you and learn something about you through your blog. Your mention of paper dolls brings back memories. Looking forward to reading your book..

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    1. I'm old enough to recall but out dolls in McCall's magazine. Hadn't thought about that magazine in years. I guess it's gone now. It's great to meet everyone here.

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  10. What a great post. I don't often thing of all that sewing and crafting I've done as transferable to writing, but it is. I'm looking forward to your book.

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  11. Hi, Virginia! Fantastic post. I think my path to writing is similar to yours in that I didn't do much "creative" writing when I was young. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up and write for National Geographic magazine AND take the photos, LOL! Although I loved to read pretty much anything, I didn't see myself as particularly creative and thought I'd end up in journalism. But now I see writing as more of a craft, with discipline being the most important part.

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    1. So many writers are quilters or knitters or photographers and painters. I know a writer who also composes music. I don't really know why I didn't think of my nonfiction writing--and I still do some ghostwriting and editing of nonfiction--as creative. It makes no sense. I also know so many people with a career in both realms.

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  12. Welcome, Virginia, I know what you mean about not starting early--I was 35 before I started writing. Looking forward to reading Girl in the Spotlight!

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    1. 35 is still pretty young. I moved away from articles to nonfiction books at about that age. When I started in my 20s, everyone in my family was very surprised. even my librarian mother. I think because we were a family of "art and writing appreciators," but necessarily the creators. I don't know the reason for that split. But some people really do start writing stories as little kids. That still seems amazing to me.

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  13. Hi, Virginia,

    It was a pleasure to edit this lovely debut. Well done and welcome to Heartwarming!

    Kathryn

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    1. Oh, how nice to hear! Thanks so much--it's been a pleasure.

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  14. Congratulations, Virginia! So excited to have you here. My daughter was a competitive gymnast for 14 years, so I understand the passion and discipline that your figure skater must have and can't wait to read your book!

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    1. I'm sure you know up close what this kind of training routine is like. And what is expected of these young athletes keeps intensifying, too. As tight as the class schedule was in dance, it was nothing like what skaters and gymnasts go through. I hope you enjoy the story! Thanks.

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  15. This book sounds great! I can't wait to read it. Congratulations on your debut Heartwarming!

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  16. Looking forward to reading your book It sound great x

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  17. Looking forward to reading your book It sound great x

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  18. Loved learning more about you. As a figure skating fan as much as one of your fans, I'm looking forward to your newest release!

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