Wednesday, May 1, 2013


The Insecure Writer's Support Group—we have over 300 members. You can find the list of participants Here and their blogs.

Have you ever watched dancers around a Maypole? Some of the dances are simple, some complex, some of the dancers are laughing and lighthearted, and others are dark, serious, and stately. Regardless of the style of dance or dancers a pattern emerges as with the ribbons as the dance goes on. Some of the steps taken give no clue as to the final pattern—they seem almost hit and miss—but they’re a work of beauty by the end.

See, dancing the Maypole is not just about the joy of the dance. Part of the motivation in dancing is in the creating of a complex pattern with the ribbons to wrap the pole. The final pattern woven stems from the movement and direction of each dancer. It looks effortless (and it’s supposed to) but the maypole is wrapped and unwrapped many, many times in practice to get the final combination of steps and corresponding end pattern.

The finished pattern on the maypole depends upon several things. The height of the maypole and those of the inner or minor dancers who dance their own patterns while interacting with the outer dancers, the pace and flow of the dancers, the texture of the ribbon material and the spacing of the colors. You may only catch glimpses of the inner circle’s dancers yet they’re all part of the dance. Sometimes the dancers have to reverse themselves a bit and then weave forward again. While dancing they may take the proper steps and yet they won’t know how successful they've been, with setting the pattern, until they’re finished and step back and look at their completed work. It soon becomes apparent when the pacing of the dance was off or someone forgot a step because it shows up in the finished pattern.

It’s similar to writing a story. We start out with all sorts of bright ideas. We have lots of ribbons available to weave our story. Now comes the dancing and weaving. We know the basic storyline—that’s our bare pole. We determine the height and breath of our story. Then are the minor characters and the major characters. Their personalities add texture and color to the story. The pacing, tension, and flow adds a different sort of feel to the overall story pattern—it could make the story light and bubbly or austere, dark and dangerous, or it could be the weaving of both. Sometimes we have to
reverse a bit and rearrange the steps and colors and then move forward again intermingling the ribbons for the finished pattern.

I have several ‘wrapped’ maypoles. I’m looking at the final patterns. Some are too bland in the color/texture choices. Nothing stands out and while the pattern is pretty it lacks that wow factor. I’m going to have to unwrap the pole and add some different ribbon textures and color to the weave of the story. Sometimes I get frustrated because while it started out fine and the dancing was fun when I step back and looked at the overall pattern it’s too jumbled. 

Smacks forehead...What was I thinking ?

And that’s about the time I’m ready to throw it the fire—or donate the damn pole to the highland games for some brawny Scot to use in the caber toss.   


Karen Walker said...

I love dancing around a Maypole. It's a spiritual experience, as is writing. Lovely post Sia

Dana Fredsti said...

One of my best memories of my first Ren Faire was leading the maypole dance and getting the fairegoers to join in. It was just so joyful and fun. I love the comparison between the maypole and writing!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a really good analogy. I think that's why I try not to use too many ribbons.

Sheila Deeth said...

My son's class learned some maypole dancing in elementary school. It was very cool.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Oooh--I want one! Happy IWSG, Sia!

L.G. Smith said...

Nice. Yeah, some of my plots get a little complicated and I think I end up tying myself to the May pole. :P

And bonus points to you for working in a man in a kilt in your post. :D

Jay Noel said...

We used to do this every May in gym class when I was a kid. It was a mess. We'd run into each other, slamming and knocking each other down. But I'm pretty sure that was on purpose.

Liza said...

What a unique take on writing. I love the May Pole idea...AND the lovely pictures!

Jo said...

I never knew that Sia, never occured to me they were making a special pattern, duuuh. Something that's done a lot in Cornwall and Devon although other parts of the UK to have maypoles too. Happy first of May.


Roland D. Yeomans said...

I think of my novel in its borning stage as holding a jewel in my fingers, angling it one way and then turning it to see all the facets. Great analogy you had! :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Karen, for some dancers there is a spiritual connection to the dance, just as for some writing is a spiritual path. Aren't you glad it takes all sorts to make up an interesting world?

Dana, yes, I remember the Maypole dancing at Ren Faire. There was a group in Marin that always had a pattern in mind when they started. The dance itself seemed all fun and silly--lots of laughter as they entertained. But at the end? Lord, they made some beautiful patterns on that pole!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you Alex. Yah, those ribbons can't get confusing, lol!

Sheila--it is fun to dance and to watch.

Joylene, Happy IWSG to you too! I enjoyed your article.

LG--thank you. It was a *toss* up between him and another muscled hunk, lol!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jay, ah yes, gym class would have been a time to do just that.

Thank you Liza. It seem to fit the subject well.

Jo--oh yes, Dancing the Maypole is practiced more in the UK than other countries. Their dances will also include flower garland hoops and added to the pole. Some are quite elaborate.

Roland--a jewel and many facets and the play of light is also a good analogy.

Al said...

Maypoles are not something we have in Oz.

I have seen them but only in England

Mark Koopmans said...


I seriously never knew there was a reason behind the Maypole dancing.

Yes, I am uncouth.

But the Angels did *whip* your A's by the fabulous score of 5-4 and (thank God) we got out of there with a win.

PS... now that I know you're an A's fan... that Gift Card you won only works in the Angels Store :)~

~Sia McKye~ said...

*snork* I like my gift card,tyvm.

Yah, there goes our sweep! Dammit. Considering that 6 hour game both teams were definitely tired puppies and that showed up big time in their defense. Your Trout and Trumbo did good and we need to install some better brakes on Cespedes, lol!

Wendy aka Quillfeather said...

Love that analogy!

Gina Gao said...

This sounds really interesting! I've never danced around a Maypole before.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Oh how pretty!

When I was a child, we'd make baskets of flowers and hang them on people's doors. I think it was the fun of ringing the doorbell and running away.

Thank you again for helping me with the A to Z list.

Inger said...

I didn't know this; and what a lovely post. In Sweden, we deck out our Mapypoles in flowers and then just dance, what we call, ring dances around them.

Old Kitty said...

Awwww but I hope you get a brand new lovely pole all shiny and strong and ready to be wrapped again in magnificent and dazzling colours and patterns!!! I know you will!!!!! Take care