Early in 1985, when news from London reached our (out-of-the-way) county, “A country man published an English book in Great Britain” spread far and quick. Many people never believe that a county-bumpkin like me could publish a book in English in Great Britain. Before long, a rumor spread out in our county: “…Have you heard that Teach He went to Shibao Mountains and then translated some stories and the foreigners gave him more than 200000 US dollars!” … I told them that I really had published a book in Great Britain but I only got 500 Pounds and I did not go to Shibao Mountain to collect stories. Here I would like to tell briefly how I published this book.
Not so long after the Cultural Revolution came to an end, many more important policies were on the change. In July the 4th 1979, I reported myself to our 2nd Middle School where I found the right 'swimming pond' Mr. Deng built. I often asked myself many questions like Can a 50-year-old man do something unusual? Shall I wait and see? Shall I do something just only with some empty lip services or I should show people something with some real actions? What shall I do? How can I do?
The most headache problem was our middle school located in one of the poorest area in Yunnan. We did not have many accesses to the outside world. Many new things were “never to be heard” here. In order to catch up with the time, my wife sold her fattest pig and with the money she got out of the pig, she bought and brought me a new short-wave radio all the way from home to our school.
After a few weeks of listening to all kinds of programs of several radio stations, I composed four letters to be sent first to BBC's Chinese Section. The second letter to VOA, the 3rd letter to Voice of Germany and the last 4th letter was sent to Radio Australia. Completely out of my expectation, all the radio stations welcomed our (Chinglish) letters. It looked like the sun rose from the West. Our risky try was a great success.
Before too long after I gained the access to some ratio stations, "seeds" & "water" began to arrive at our mountain-corner school. Here "seeds" means people at BBC introduced me some friends. The editor of IN BRITAIN published a short letter of mine and brought me some friends. The Voice of Germany also brought me another batch of new friends. The word "water" means my circle of international friends sent me many modern up-to-date necessary supplies for learning a foreign language like dictionaries, language-drill tapes, easy-to-read picture story-books, all sorts of colorful magazines etc…The senders were a mountain at which I relied on and the modern equipments they gave (for free) were the sharp "weapons" with which I fought in my "battles" to recapture my lost English "territory."
One of the battles I fought was to translate some folktales. In the beginning, I never expect to publish them, I only expected to improve my English by translating. After I finished a few stories, I sent them to one of my friends, Miss Sarah Slim, a secretary to BBC'S Chinese Section. Her reaction to my “exercise” was great. She said: “…I'm a secretary. My hands are always full. I can only check some of your grammatical mistakes. I have no friend who works in a publishing company, but the head of our section, Derek had worked in some of the publishing houses for some time. He knows the right way to approach an editor. What's more, I told him the details of your situation and he said he would like to try his best. So, you must grasp this golden opportunity. You are standing on a favorable position. Cherish it! Be brave and be quick…." With her great encouragement, I worked even harder…
Mainly with Sarah’s and Derek's help, late in 1983, all the problems were formally confirmed. The Collins Publishers had made an official decision to selected 14 tales (among the 18 tales I sent.) and formed them as a separate collection entitled as THE SPRING OF BUTTERFLIES and other Chinese Folk tales. That was how the story of book began and ended.
As a matter of fact, really it isn't strange at all. This little success is not worthwhile to blow my trumpet in a big way. Probably, it sounds rather superstitious. In a way, it looked like a BLIND CAT MET A DEAD RAT. So to speak, I think, perhaps, it was simply by luck. Superstitiously speaking, it was through God's help. I was and I'm a Christian. I call it Jesus Christ had answered my prayers.
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