I Would Call It “The Great Gatsby” But It’s Been Taken

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.”


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:

Salsera Nation
Planet Salsa
Salsa Geek

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.



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