Completely ignored by constabulary at roadblocks from here to Harare and back again, I was unable to test my willpower in the spitting department, although the long trip did give rise to several new thoughts of other things I could try that are a little out of the ordinary, and possibly fineable. At this rate I’m sure to be arrested at some point. I got back late enough for the feathered horde to have taken themselves off to bed in a huff, and have been properly chastised this morning. I’m thinking that whoever made doves the spokescreatures for peace obviously never had any angelic looking birds as pets. Two inches of feathered rage can have a seriously painful effect on your earlobes. Having a big sleep doesn’t make them forget either. Little buggers.
One thing that I especially love about my monthly trips to Harare are all the new shops that always spring up around and about during my four week absences. Remembering the hunger and the sadness on the faces of the people so few years ago, now I get a real kick out of seeing those same faces laughing, munching down on fast food, and generally embracing and enjoying the new pleasures available. I hate seeing suffering. I always want to take hurt or broken people home with me and fix them. Yesterday, although I know that there really still is a lot of suffering in this country, I didn’t see a bit of it.
What I did find though, was a brand new book shop. Full of brand new books. I haven’t seen such a shop here in years, so I wandered around like an utter dork, mouth hanging open and drooling for far too long. This was also the first time that I’ve been into a bookshop since I started writing, so knowing what I now know, it was the most amazing feeling to pick up an actual paper copy of Hugh Howey’s Wool and flick through the pages. I check out his blog, watch his trip, and read his advice and opinions. He is one of those guys that makes a real effort to answer comments, no matter how busy he really must be. It was sorely tempting to buy piles of paper books because to me they were reasonably priced at $12, but I showed great restraint for once. I wondered if these authors even knew that their books were being avidly read by so many people in Zimbabwe, for many of whom a $12 outlay would be quite a big deal. Here these books will be treasures to be read, re-read, and passed around to many others who can’t afford the outlay at all. The unfairness of it all kind of hit me right between the eyes then. Us indies frantically trying to give our books away for free to people who don’t really want them, and then all of the thousands of less fortunate people around the world with three or four treasured books to last them a lifetime of reading, who would really love to have our books, but never will.
This writing trip has kicked up a notch for me in the excitement department after that. Now I realise just how very fortunate us indies really are, to be given the opportunity to be part of this great game. The joyful side of publishing has suddenly became real to me, regardless of the actual work involved in getting to your destination. African Me will be available in paperback at the same time that it goes live on Amazon, with a bit of luck, the fates being what they are, and all that. The very possibility of some reader guy sitting on a park bench in London, or Tennessee, or any other spot in the world, holding something in his hands that I made, reading words that I wrote, just blows me away.
I’m not sure what the shopkeeper thought, having some odd woman fondling Hugh Howey’s book, drooling a bit, and staring off into space, but people here are mostly gentle, kind souls, so she left me to my epiphany. I have nothing to complain about being an indie writer. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to even access Amazon, and plonk any bit of writing I want to on there. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be able to market my book. Lucky to be able to even open Twitter – although that’s got more to do with the bastard internet signal. I’m lucky to have the time to write, without worrying about what I’ll eat for dinner. I’m lucky to have a computer to type my scribbles on. In the same vein, I’m lucky to be able to download hundreds of books, paid or free, and then leave them lounging unread, when so many would do so much to be able to read just one of them now and then, but will never have a chance to.
I won’t be complaining about any part of my trip. I now see it for the real gift that it is. Whether my book sells millions, or just one – to me, all the work getting it produced and marketed will be worth every minute spent. I will have published a book. And what a fantastic thing to have done that will be. Because somewhere, everywhere, there is another soul, more creative than me, sitting in some shabby, sad place, trying very hard to squish the silly dream he has of writing down the stories clamouring to get out of his head, because he knows that that’s a dream too high, and all that will ever be on his daily to do list will be survival. Gratitude, not whingeing, will be the order of my trip to the end. So indie guys, so.
Till next time friends. xxx