Seattle, Washington Start the Presses

My book went to the printer today.

WTHIM_Cover

You can pre-order it on Amazon for an alarmingly low price. It's due out on June 2nd.

Writing it was hard. It turned my hair gray(er). I learned to drink coffee. I completely ran out of words. For weeks I could communicate only through grunts and eyebrow movements.

It was sort of like going through pregnancy in reverse. Melissa helped me conceive it, then she put up with me through weight gain, lost sleep, mood swings, and generally irrational behavior. In the end, she held my hand through the final, painful steps of getting the damn thing out the door.

I kept waiting for a montage to start; a Huey Lewis song would fade in, I'd do some sit-ups, and then the book would be done. That never happened. Instead, I had to put in a tremendous number of hours at coffee shops and all-night diners to get away from my Xbox.

Even there, procrastination was a constant companion. After beating myself up for a long time, I learned to accept it as a part of the process. I'd goof off on my iPhone for however long it took me to finally get started, then look at my blank laptop screen, decide I wasn't ready yet, and go back to goofing off for a while longer. I lost the will to fight my bad habits and just let them run their course.

The book is hardly a tome. It's 40,000 words, cut down from a peak of 80,000. The chapters are brisk; I took a cue from the videos themselves and wrote a series of very short stories about what went into getting the 50 or so most interesting dancing clips in all three videos. My hope is that, like the videos, the brief glimpses will form a cumulative impact that is greater than their sum. Failing that, I'm shooting for a laugh here and there.

In other news, NPR asked me to do an essay for their "This I Believe" series. The invitation honored me into paralysis. It took them eight months of hounding to squeeze 500 words out of me.

You can read it here, or click "Listen Now" at the top of the page to hear the actual broadcast.

70 Responses to Seattle, Washington Start the Presses

  1. Nando

    Whoa! That came sooner than expected. Congratulations for you and Melissa!
    How long was it? 9 Months? 😉

    Can’t wait to actually read it. Well done, Matt!

  2. Michael Franks

    Also pre-ordered it! Awesome!!!! I’ve been waiting patiently for the book to come out. I’ve been checking for site updates for weeks and weeks, and the wait is finally over. Matt, I discovered your videos in the summer right after the 3rd video release. I’ve found them to be so inspiring that I finally booked a trip to Japan that I’ve wanted to do for many years. I leave in exactly 1 week. I’m stoked! Can’t wait to read the book. Cheers from Prince George, BC.

  3. Sarah

    Congrats, Matt! I look forward to reading your book.

    I still watch your videos from time to time when I need a pick-me-up (particularly after reading or watching the news), and they’re still good after the 1000th viewing. I’ve at long last started planning for a trip Down Under later this year that I’ve been talking about going on for years. Thanks for inspiring me to finally do it!

  4. Kim

    I really loved your This I Believe Essay. I listen to them as a podcast and I think yours comes the closest of any I have heard to what I believe.

    Thank you!

  5. Lauren

    So very proud of you! Have loved your stuff for years now. I carry your Dancing 2008 on my iPhone and iPod. I didn’t go to your DC event because of the complications when you were denied permission (at first) to gather. You did it anyway and I get a video of people who were able to find you in time.

    Come out to play –literally play– with Seattle folks via http://www.exuberantanimal.com . I am not trying to plug the group (after all I don’t even live there) – just that you might like to have some playful fitness in your adopted hometown. Because of your NPR thoughts, this might really connect with you.

    Best wishes – for living a dream, showing others they can live a dream, even if it’s of dancing badly.

  6. Madhu

    I hope the book comes out with a Kindle version too! I’ve stopped buying paper books ever since I got myself a Kindle. I’d love to read your book though.

  7. I don’t pre-order stuff but when it is available for immediate purchase I’ll probably get several copies for friends and family.

    Congratulations. Now put down the Word document and get back to dancing. Badly.

  8. Rob

    Good job with the NPR piece, and congratulations on finishing the book. If the book provides even a fraction of the charm and human interest and humor of your contemporaneous journal entries, it’s bound to be a hit. And with a little luck you’ll make your way around the country flogging the hell out of this puppy.

  9. Congratulations Matt, I too have been checking every once in a while and pondered what you were up to. I’m glad you completed the book and can now reap the benefits of which you have earned. Melissa is a patient woman!

  10. Gunvald Larsson

    What about your blog matt? Why not make a book about that? Id buy it. /Gunvald Larsson, Sweden

  11. S

    Congratulations, Matt!
    I’ve downloaded your latest video to my iPod, it’s my instant pick-me-up on a dark day. I need only watch it to remember why life is beautiful; why I love to travel, to remember how much a smile serves when traveling, how much more in common people around the world have than most care to admit. For that positive and invaluable reminder, my most sincere thank you.
    I truly look forward to reading the book. And the sequel!

  12. HelenWheels

    Hey, Matt! Congratulations on getting your book published – I’ll be ordering mine shortly. I would warn folks that if they’re looking for the book, they should look for the TITLE of the book, not for author Matt Harding. There are at least two others, one of whom wrote a book about stuff to do in Denver and another who wrote soft porn books back in the 60’s. Fortunately, “Where the Hell is Matt?” comes up on the top of the list. I can’t wait to read it!

  13. Jon

    you should put a video up on youtube to advertise your book better, you’ll get thousands buying it

  14. Calvin-UT

    I’m a ballroom/Latin dance teacher at a high school, ballroom is all about making connections. I had all of my students (a couple of hundred) watch your video and write me a little blurb about what they got out of it; they “get it” I’m happy to report… my point? Now there’s a book too!!?? I’m all giddy! Please come dance for us ,with us, or even just near us… we are huge fans.

  15. Vilhelm Smári

    Hey, Matt.

    I met you and interviewed you when you were dancing on Ingolfstorg in Reykjavik. I daresay it was an honour. I just watched your third video for the 3rd time now and it still sends shivers down my spine.

    Congratulations with your new book! I didn’t even know you had a book coming out, but I guess I’ll be pre-ordering it! If you ever come to Tokyo, where I’m currently located, you can send me a line and I’ll buy you a beer.

    Keep up the good work!

    Vilhelm Smári

  16. Geog Ju

    Well done! I wondered what you’d been up to.
    I’ve shared your dancing with hundreds of pupils in our school, and they were inspired to do our own version. Unfortunately it can’t be shared because of permissions etc, but if you ever come to sunny Suffolk here in England look us up.
    I’ll be letting them know about the book – it will provide great inspiration in our geography lessons.
    Thanks from all of us.

  17. T.A

    Congrats Matt. This is awesome! I accidentally came across your blog and subsequently began reading them before your first video went live on the wire.

  18. GregInVancouver

    Congrats Matt! I’ll be sure to order it. God knows how many times I’ve watched Dancing 2008 when I’ve needed a smile.

    Also: What’s with the Japanese VISA commercial? Outtakes from Dancing 2008?

  19. Carol in Venice, CA

    Congratulations, Matt! I have your book on pre-order. I’ve always enjoyed your posts (and your talks via you tube), so I know I’ll enjoy your book, too. I’m sure the gray (er), etc. will be worth it. If not, you’ll have to do some more traveling, right?

  20. 現在、日本のTVでは、あなたのCMが流れてます。
    懐かしくなり、Youtubeで、再度あなたの動画を観ました。
    やっぱり良いですね。

  21. CS

    YAY you finally updated! I’m very excited about your book. Congrats on finishing it. I hope you feel accomplished :)and i can assure you I’ll be purchasing it when it gets out.

    and just to let you know, even though thousands already have, I was reminiscing on when i first watched the video. it really is sublime, it ways i’m not sure anyone can comprehend completely. Thanks. i hope what comes of this a just as beautiful.

  22. Angelia

    I like how people who have pre-ordered this book have also ordered “Doodle Stitching”. That just made me giggle.

  23. Congratulations, Matt! Can’t wait to read your book. Melissa, congratulations to you too!

    The 2008 Dancing video was shared in an email I received today from an online women marketers group I belong to. It was about about putting the YOU into our message…and You, Matt, were given as an example.

    And though I have seen the video many times before, I wept with joy…again!…while watching it. Thanks for being you and for bringing your message so powerfully out into the world.

    My best,
    Kate Sanner

  24. Stephanie in Idaho

    Absolutely LOVE the videos… Love your blog… By the way, you don’t blog enough. Now I know why… That being said, I WILL buy the book. Looking forward to reading it. Also, enjoyed the NPR piece. You have completely hit the proverbial ‘nail on the head’ when it comes to what you believe.

    Thank you Matt, I love your spirit.

  25. Liam Heller

    That’s great Matt! I’ll definitely be getting a copy of the book.

    Take care! : )

  26. Soulotomy

    Congratulations! Reading re-awakened after a long decade, and am looking forward to reading yours.

    Breakfast (and possibly, dancing) at Buck’s of Woodside, seems a natural, as a lot of cool stuff incubated over grub at Buck’s, such as cold fusion, and Bill Gates (occasional visitor) and Neil Young (Woodside resident) eat there (as I suspect many of Woodside’s other denizens such as Larry Ellison, Gordon Moore, Joan Baez, etc). Great eats. Good, and good volume. Beautiful country, horse country, surrounded by spectacular preserves, about a half hour in from the Pacific’s Ano Nuevo Preserve and Half Moon Bay (big waves – 30+ footers).

    Jamis MacNiven, the proprietor, was once wanted by the FBI, the Berkeley Police and the NYPD but is now a Junior San Mateo County Deputy Sheriff.

  27. Alex in Chicago

    That reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.:

    ‘When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.’ Understood completely. But alas, at last!

    Finishing the travelogues – phenomenal news, and what a milestone! Congratulations, Matt! :) Here’s yet another loyal fan who will most definitely purchase the book.

    I also enjoyed your NPR essay. Your videos always stir my roaming wayfarer’s soul, and this might sound mildly ridiculous, but the message of dance interconnecting humanity has gotten me doing the salsa.

    Thank you and best wishes!

  28. Feng Wang

    Cool!
    hope your book can be published in China mainland or Hongkong.
    Congratulations!
    Thanks for the laugh u brought to me.

  29. Jeanie

    Hi Matt
    As yet I have never seen your dancing …just happened across your web site…..but a couple of yrs ago I found an article about U somewhere. I have been teaching english to mature age students in China & this article was exactly right for my classes so many Chinese students got to know about U. They mostly found it amazing that someone could do what U do.So thankyou for giving them another view of life.

  30. Adam

    well, you’ve just sold another copy – the stuff you’ve been writing for free has already been worth more than the 10 bucks the actual book costs

    …now you just have to live up to your own written goodness 😛

  31. Feng

    these days we can see u on TV (Visa Go Ad.) in China, u will have a lot more new chinese fans. :)

  32. I quite enjoyed the book, as I knew I would. Glad I’ve been frequenting the dangerous-to-me travel store which tipped me off to the early release opportunity. Finished reading it last night and will probably go back to it randomly in the future for a bit of amusement and wandering ispiration.

    I’m now even more excited for my next solo-travel trip in a few weeks.

  33. Matt, can’t wait to see the book. I decided to quit my job, too, and travel the globe. When I started researching, I found out someone had already beat me to it! Doh! Well, I won’t be dancing much, but I’ll do a lot of other exciting and fun things. Please give my website endsofearth.com a look when you get a chance!

  34. Laura

    I’m seconding Feng’s comment…I saw your Visa add playing on a TV in my taxi in Shanghai today.

    My students love your video too. I teach international second graders and they can all find their countries in the 2008 video!

  35. Diane

    I want to do what you have done, only using the best spatula in the world as my platform. You know, cooking around the world with my red spatula. What da ya think?

  36. Hola que tal me llamo julio cesar, tengo 18 años, pues me gustaria armar un grupo de jovene que quisieran explorar las americas como amigos, partiendo desde un lugar asta otro, tratar de recorrer todas las americas, como exploradores, seria fantastico jejeje, pues si existe algun grupo de jovenes que aga eso comuniquenme porfavor, mi correo es [email protected] muchas gracias

  37. sabrina

    ….finally….couldn’t helping thinking of that cute dancing man in blue T-shirt in VISA commerical no matter where i was…….
    Love u…….

  38. Ryan

    Just finished the book. Loved it. Great job. It’s definitely time for video #4 to start production. I am going to float the idea of a collection jar for everyone to fund it. Keep up your fantastic work!

    One small map error for your editor: The highlighted country (and star) at the beginning of the Kuwait entry is actually Karbala, Iraq, not Kuwait City, Kuwait. But you’re still awesome…

  39. Melanie

    The book just arrived yesterday, and I’m so excited to have a print version of your videos and website! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blogs and travel stories, and I know I’m going to love reading the book!

    Your videos make people just…well, happy. Kudos for inspiring so much faith in the connectivity that exists between us all, not to mention wanderlust! Well done!

  40. I just love your videos, which someone shared with me and so I just had to share with many others. I just ran across this site and now see you have written a book, a must have!
    Thanks

  41. Man, these videos are simply the best. Only if I had done one funny thing like this dance in every place I have been to… FANTASTIC!

    Congrathefreakinglations Matt!

    Cheers from a brazilian-italian who married a dane and went living in Mexico…

    (sounds familiar?) =)

  42. I’m not sure why, but amazon canada has it not released here yet. You may want to look into why as I’d prefer not to buy it from amazon US and have to pay border duty.

  43. Rich

    Great book! I got it in the mail yesterday (Amazon with free shipping option). I just finished it, and it was great. I’m sorry it caused you so much stress, but thank you for writing it. I’m usually not much of a reader and it kept me as hooked as Harry Potter book 7, so congrats. :)

    Rich

  44. Thanks, Matt. I’m really enjoying your book. You told most of the stories I wanted to know about and you did it well.

  45. Michael Olesen, Denmark

    Very well written. Extremely inspiring and funny! Good job. Hope to see/hear more from you in the future.

  46. ANDY HIMES

    Matt, i just discovered your website and loved the videos – especially 2008 with the song Prana. This is fun, funny, celebratory and AMAZING. I’m from Seattle and LOVED the ending. Gasworks park. Love it! Awesome job. I can’t wait to read your book.

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