Yesterday, via a comment on this blog from Terry (you can read it here), I learned of the first review written about Happy Tango by a paying customer. I confess, I shed a happy tear as I read Terry’s comment and the review itself. You can read it (by scrolling down the page) at the Book Depository here.
Can anyone possibly understand what it is like for a first-time book author waiting for news of what people think of their work of he(art)? Other first-timers might identify with the constant pull to check the screens of online retailers or blog-comment, Facebook and Twitter feeds. Then again they might also recognise that the desire to do that is mixed in with a little voice that reminds that no news is probably good news… at least no-one is complaining too loudly! I’m one of those human beings that prefers to know though. I’ve never been keen on pregnant pauses. I’m fine with stillness full of understanding and love. I’m less comfortable with silences that might be more about what’s not being said. Thus, my friends, I have to thank Terry, who bought my book, read it, liked and took the time to tell the world why they should buy it. Yes, I can bang on and on about how useful I think Happy Tango is (and I know I’m telling the truth), but in cases where my word may not be enough to convince someone who has never heard of Sallycat, the voice of others could be the persuader. In my dreams, I saw Happy Tango as a book that would sell itself. And so far it looks like it can be: friends’ Facebook updates, fellow tango bloggers’ posts, reviews like Terry’s, your copy shown off in your tango community… these are the things that will do the job. And I will be grateful for every one of them, and to every one of you who make them happen with your words (or your deeds).
Right now, in my UK summer, I find myself unexpectedly focused on the power of words. Someone I love more than I can say has temporarily, on the face of it at least, lost their voice. My Mum is recovering from a pretty huge operation for cancer, and instead of speaking to me, she has to write down what she wants to say, or show me with her hands, or her eyes, or even just with the way she chooses to lie on her bed… and the beauty of it is that without any speech at all she is managing to make me laugh, make me cry, make my heart swell with pride that she is my Mum. Yesterday I printed out Terry’s review and took it in to show her. She gave me shining eyes and a heartfelt thumbs up sign along with a drawing of a hyperbolic graph and a spiral made with her finger that said start small and grow. I know she is right. Then, after exchanges of news about this and that, our more-animated-than-normal and honest conversation moved on to the theme of what happens when we can’t speak to each other like we would normally do. I remember when I met Carlos, I said, We couldn’t say anything to each other (didn’t speak each other’s languages) but I saw his soul and he saw mine. It was enough. I think my family are seeing each other’s souls now. It feels like having five bright lights in that hospital room at visiting times (and they remain, I think, even when we are not there), with my Mum’s light burning brightest at the centre. She may look like she has been through ten rounds with Mohammed Ali, and she may feel like it too, and we each may be a little scared and thoughtful about various aspects of what it may mean for our collective and individual tomorrows, but yesterday we agreed that without the spoken word, our souls’ voices seem to gain power, speak more clearly, and it seems, in my family’s case, connect to join in a song more beautiful than we have ever sung before.
It reminds me of what happens when I write. If I was talking to you, I might start off on my intended track, but then you’d probably interrupt, or tell me your point of view, or cloud my thinking with your perspective… all useful stuff I am sure, and known as dialogue, but I’d end up somewhere else, influenced by you. When I write, because I have free rein to write from my heart, without yours getting in the way, it can be easier to end up exactly where my own soul wants to be.
I’ve wanted to write this post but I’ve ummed and aahed (leaving me with a spot of writer’s block)… would my Mum be OK with it? Well, I’m going to ask her this afternoon. So if you’re reading my words now, you’ll know she gave me the thumbs up. I want to write it because I’m receiving a zillion emails full of people’s congratulations about the book, and it’s hard to keep telling this other, behind the scenes, tale of my summer again and again. Sallycat’s Adventures has always been a blog straight from the heart, and mine cannot hide… I’ve tried that way of life (for my first 43 years, as you know), and it doesn’t work for me… far too tense.
So I am telling my truth, yet again, on this blog. For a little while I was afraid that despite these personal-life events and how tired they are making me feel, I should be doing more to promote the book. I just can’t do the stuff I had planned. But writing this has made me less concerned than I was. I’ve already received two generous offers of blog interviews from friends and I am sure that the opportunities such as those, that are meant to be, will come in time. I am also considering making a little video in the bandstand of a Shrewsbury park (Glorieta-style), of me talking about the book, so that my spoken passion for it can go where my physical self cannot. And the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that regardless of how much tearing around the country promoting Happy Tango I am able to do this summer, the book’s presence in the world will grow anyway. Reviews like Terry’s will make sure of it. And there will be more reviews like Terry’s because the bottom line (and do forgive me for banging on… ha!) is that the book will be useful, it will do good things for people, and thus they might be kind enough to pass the good news on.
I’m delighted to say that Happy Tango has begun to ship from both amazon.co.uk (see M. and N. in Windsor above) and amazon.com and from The Book Depository. I know many of you are still waiting on your copies, and I hope you will not be kept waiting too much longer. Once the wheels of distribution are fully in motion, copies should ship more speedily.
Meanwhile, I remain in Shropshire with my family. I am proud beyond belief to have a decent book out there in the world with you. I am proud to get my first upbeat review of it from Terry. But I am proudest of all to get the thumbs up, via whatever fabulous, creative, inspiring means she can invent, from my precious and amazing Mum! I know that you will all wish her well.