I’ve been “working” (writing + a lot of talking about writing) on this book about salsa dancing for almost five years. I would have scrapped the project long ago and vowed never to write a book again, but every single time I go salsa dancing five people ask me, “When is your book coming out?”
Like many epic failures, the book seemed like a great idea when I began it with the clueless vigor and optimism of the young and untried. Hey, I blog, write plays, jokes…why not write a book? So naive! Writing a book, as it turns out, is not unlike chipping at a piece of wood, one made of molten led. After receiving rejection emails from 100+ agents, I experienced a sense of demoralization that had seemed so romantic when I read about it in college. I will never act cavalier about anything in my life. Rejection sucked the arrogance right out of me.
So flash forward five years, and I have this document on my computer of almost 300 pages (84,000 words). I may not have a very good book, but I do have a bunch of words that form sentences and then paragraphs about my friends, dance partners, flings, dysfunction, and other embarrassing things (kind of like my blog)…fun stuff!…right? Somewhere in that maybe I express something about salsa culture…but I’m not even sure it matters. THE POINT IS I NEED TO FINISH THIS BOOK. Even if for no other reason than to get people to stop asking me about it. So, I decided to hone my 300 pages down to 150, throw it up on Amazon E-books and call it a day. If anyone asks me about my book I’ll direct them to Amazon, tell them to buy a Kindle, and vow never to write a book again.
But here’s the thing. What am I writing about? Is my book about dancing? A how-to-salsa guide? A memoir? WHAT IS THIS BOOK ABOUT?
I realized that I needed help and so I hired a real honest-to-God Book Consultant (my 3rd). I paid this lady good money to tell me that what I really need is a good title.
“The title is everything,” she said. “And that’s the hardest part.”
BUT I HAVE 300 PAGES?!
So for the past few weeks, have been working on finding a title to describe this thing I do: salsa dancing. But it’s not just dancing. Salsa is a community, an escape, an art form, a way to express myself, a surrogate family, a form of therapy, a way of life, a way to listen to music, a place to get hurt (physically and emotionally)…but I wonder if, more than everything, FOR ME, salsa has been a sort of half-way house between the isolation of being single and the imagined slavery of being married with kids.
Here are some of my suckier titles:
The rest of it will be something like “How I Blah, Blah, by Dancing Salsa.”
Just for today, I am committed to finishing this book.