Submission to Anansi Publishers
February 1, 2022,
Thank you for the opportunity to submit my manuscript, ‘Small Rituals”. I fall inside your category of “debuting after forty, and without an M.F.A.”
Small Rituals is a 53 thousand word memoir with 31 chapters. Small Rituals is a travel adventure memoir with unexpected twists and turns and unusual encounters. The book begins with a small misfortune prompting an unexpected journey. A denied work permit leads to a missed connecting flight in Chicago that begins my adventures through the Americas. At a time before the skies were filled with satellites and travelling required paper maps, in essence, during the last days of authentic travel I got lost on a journey to nowhere.
I am a semi-retired professor teaching for the English Language and Literature Department at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Before my teaching career, I worked in Fringe theatre writing, directing and touring Fringe plays across the country. I have published in The Canadian Theatre Review and the Canadian Encyclopedia as well as authoring two online courses for UBC (Professional Writing & Oh Canada, Our home ON Native Land).
Again, thank you for this opportunity, I am including a brief synopsis of Small Rituals and a pdf file of the manuscript. I hope you enjoy your read.
Sincerely, Erika Paterson
A Brief Synopsis of Small Rituals
(53000 word, 30 chapters)
Small Rituals is a story about a remarkable and transformative journey across continents and through a landscape of memories. My story begins on a plane on my way home. Home was an old weather-beaten wooden sloop tied up in a lagoon on Grand Cayman Island — that I shared with Rock, who was equally old. And weather beaten. I had a two-hour layover at the Chicago airport, so I went outside for a smoke, missed my connection, and without thinking about it, I jumped on a shuttle to the Grey Hound bus station and began a long journey with no destination and little cash. Traveling by bus, I crossed the Mexican border and high in the mountains of Oaxaca I was invited to join a magic mushroom ritual, in the highlands of Guatemala I lost my ATM card and lived for months with no cash, on the Rio Dulce, deep in the jungle, I worked in a bar that raised money for a home and school for Mayan children, and in Honduras I stopped to help to open a small university. In the end, Rock sailed our ‘home’ from Cayman Island and joined me in Honduras, but I was a different person.
Traveling alone is a special kind of journey, and more so when you have no destination. When you travel like this, time changes. In a strange way, time becomes meaningless and disappears, and when time disappears the border between memory and imagination melts away. Whatever happened in a long ago past, is so easily reimagined in a timeless present. I was so often left alone to reflect. On those long bus rides, vivid dreams from the past filled my waking hours with memories. I wrote those memories down and crafted them into stories. Playing with my stories, fitting the past into my present like pieces of a colourful abstract puzzle, a larger story took shape, a story about memory and destinies.
My book is called Small Rituals, because in the writing I realized that, for some of us, it is the small rituals that hold our lives together: those little gestures and repeated practices, the small trinkets we collect and endow with meaningfulness, and our uncomplicated bits of knowledge which we cherish as endearing truths. These are what contain us and prevent us from asking the unanswerable questions.