Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Well, I am branching out, attempting to fulfill my creative potential, just as I encourage others to do. We are capable of far more than we think. Most readers know that I wrote a non-fiction book titled Freeing the Creative Spirit in the 1990’s, and now I have taken another leap into the world of the written word, I have written a novel titled Tango Lessons.
Tango Lessons does not teach the reader how to dance tango, but it does offer some deeper insights into tango as more than a dance. I tapped into the spiritual and political things I have learned and experienced as an apprentice to the dance. I bring together things from the real world of tango with a fictitious tale about a woman who goes to Argentina to learn about the tango, but more importantly she travels to that foreign land in search of a lost relative, an elder who it appears may not have died in the Spanish Civil War (as the family had presumed).
The journey comes at a time when she has lost the life she's known. Her twenty-five year marriage has ended in divorce. Her only child has gone off to college. And the house she had known as home has burnt to the ground. Raquel Carval is over fifty, full of anxiety and self-doubt. But she hopes to accomplish one important thing, to find the elder brother of her dying godmother before she takes her last breath.
The challenges she takes on were unimaginable. She didn't realize that thousands of people in Argentina are looking for loved ones who disappeared more than twenty years ago. She didn't realize that she embodied the courage and beauty of a woman capable of creating a new life, or of accepting a dangerous, even life-threatening mission for the sake of justice and truth.
We had a terrific launch party for Tango Lessons. Yes, of course, we danced a little tango, and we ate empanadas and drank red wine. It was a very heart-warming evening for me, to feel supported by friends who I'd not seen in years. Most of them had no idea I'd been working on a book about tango for over ten years.
If any readers of this blog are working on a writing project, I want to support you for your courage and determination. Writing is a solitary undertaking. And a book, whether it is fiction or non-fiction requires research, planning, time lines, thinking and rethinking. Then there can be months, even years of editing. And in this market, months or years can be spent shopping it to agents or publishers. I finally decided that self-publication was not a sign of failure, but an act of independence.
When I finally held a copy of Tango Lessons in my hands, the success smelled even sweeter than the first time I held Freeing the Creative Spirit, which was published by a big publishing house. I knew that without any other forces behind me, I had stayed with the project for the long haul. I had never given up. I made every hurdle push me to make the story better, the writing more direct. Because it is a story with a good deal of Spanish dialog, the spell check program quit early on, so I had to reread and reread for spelling errors that are easy to lose track of. The book designer's program then took out the italics that were editorially required for the Spanish, so I had to read with a pair of literary tweezers to reset the italics. This blog is the only place you will learn about all that, unless you come to a reading. It's important to include those details of the creative process here because that's what this blog is about.
You can see that beyond the years that I put into studying tango, Tango Lessons still had a lot to teach me. And every time I get another email, phone call, or Amazon page review I am rewarded a hundred times over. Readers tell me they can't put it down. They say they stayed awake into the small hours of the night because they had to finish it. Turns out, I wrote a page turner! Critical appreciation is important, of course, but there is also a great feeling to know that the reader is caught up in the story, that the heroine's life matters to them. Literature has the power to instill hope and inspire courage. If I have done some of that, I know the ten years were worthwhile. Hope you will read it and enjoy it.