This is our last dance - In which I pay homage to David Bowie

“All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.”  ~ David Bowie

The Thin White Duke 1947-2016

The Thin White Duke 1947-2016

I don't post blogs very often, but then again, the world doesn't lose artistic geniuses like David Bowie every day. I remember being a little kid singing "Under Pressure" with my mom in the back seat of the family station wagon. I remember being the angsty teenager blasting "I'm Afraid of Americans" while putting on black lipstick. I remember my husband calling me while touring through Kansas City and telling me about the coolest David Bowie t-shirt he'd found at a boutique on the Plaza. It was $60. We were making maybe $10/hr at the time but I was adamant that he go back and buy it because it was fucking awesome. To this day it remains his favorite shirt.

David Bowie taught eccentric, artsy weirdos like me that it's perfectly acceptable to do your own thing instead of trying to please others. He taught us that we'd be happier if we followed our hearts, which is why I went to school for fine art instead of becoming a corporate bean counter. For over 30 years I've watched DB reinvent himself over and over from a place of creative exploration instead of a pit of despair. He never sold out. He never went country or made a Christmas album, although this duet with Bing Crosby is a holiday favorite at Casa di Cannaday. David Bowie always seemed to function from a place of genuine artistic sincerity, and even though he's gone, I will continue to think of him as an unofficial fairy godfather. Not just for me personally, but for so many of us creative types. This is a hero of mine that helped shape who I am; a man that I expected would live forever. I think he probably will live forever...at least, he'll live on in the same way that Shakespeare and Picasso live on. The world is lucky to have had him, and it's a better place because of him.

“All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.”  ~ David Bowie

Yeah I intentionally posted that quote twice, because I think creative people need to hear it. It doesn't matter if you're a web developer or a sculptor. If you're creating something that you're passionate about, there will always be people who will detect that fire in your work. Whenever I'm feeling stuck with my writing, this is what gets me moving again: having permission to be selfish with my creativity. While I treasure my readers, my goal in writing isn't to create something for my audience. It's to let go of that pressure and create for myself, and then have the nerve to share it with the world. When people don't like my stories it's not that big of a deal. When they enjoy my stories, it's a wonderful feeling. I've tried tailoring stories to accommodate what others wanted to read, and it just wasn't working for me. I feel like my writing is the best when I take my fairy godfather's advice and let myself become very selfish about it. Otherwise, what's the point? We've only got one shot in this life, so we have to make it count.

"This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
."

RIP DB.

 

Below is a short excerpt from The Silver Thread, book 2 of the Annika Brisby series. It's a scene that I've imagined a thousand times in my head. Today makes a thousand and one.

* * *

The first few notes of “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie played overhead, and since Annika was at a loss for words, Talvi seized the opportunity to drape her arms around his neck and lead her into a loopy waltz around the room.

“Put on your red-feathered shoes and dance the blues,” he crooned to her, looking smug as he customized the lyrics.

“Talvi, you can’t waltz to this,” she protested as he guided her haphazardly one way and then the other, narrowly missing the petunia flats and buckets of mudding that lay precariously on the floor. “It’s in 4/4 time, and a waltz is in 3/4.”

“You’re absolutely right about that, my little dove.” He immediately switched to a tango as his left leg pushed between hers, guiding her backwards. She was afraid of him stepping on her feet or tripping over a bag of plaster in his inebriated state, but he miraculously managed not to. One hand pressed into the small of her back, coaxing her hips against his while the other hand caressed the length of her arm, sliding along her ribcage. With both hands, he dipped her low to the ground, letting her hair brush against the rug as he rocked her gently from one side to another.

“Let’s sway…” he sang softly while he pulled her back up and turned her until her spine was against his chest, and rested his cheek against hers. “…sway through the crowd to an empty space…like your room,” he sighed wantonly into her ear in his velvety smooth voice before nipping at her ear lobe. He continued to swing her around the room wildly, careful not to let her go flying too far.

"And if you should fall, into my arms..." Right on cue he let go of her. Just when she thought she would hit the floor, he caught her, grinning from ear to softly pointed ear.