Part One:

Small Rituals”

Memoir & Short Stories, 31 Chapters, 53,000 words

Small Rituals brings together the genres of memoir and short story in unique ways to create a lively literary experience.”

Small Rituals tells the story of a remarkable and transformative journey across continents and through a landscape of memories. Fitting pieces of the past into the present, like pieces of a colourful abstract puzzle, a larger story takes shape. A story about how our memories mold our destinies. A story that acts as an intricate backdrop to an adventure that takes place long ago. A travel adventure in a time when getting lost was still an option. A time before the skies were filled with satellites.

Like all good travel odysseys, when my journey begins, I am 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 Greyhound 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 banks of 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.

Who are my readers: People who enjoy reading memoirs and travel adventures in general, readers with a fascination for how memory works and an enduring penchant for transcendence and transformation – and finally, readers who love good stories based on lived experiences. 

A note on narrative style: In Small Rituals I’ve turned memories into stories, re -enacting conversations word for word as if they are happening in the moment and not a long ago past. To write this memoir, I I began by twisting memories into fiction and first person into a ‘fly on the wall’ narrative — then, like a kitten chasing her tail, I revised it all back again. I’ve turned everything inside out, shaken out crumbs of loves and betrayals, explored a past from before I was born, and honed the edges of hard truths to a shine. I stood witness as characters emerged in the writing, self-invented and imagined, they came to life and settled nicely in between my memories. Small Rituals brings together the genres of memoir and short story in unique ways to create a lively literary experience.

A Brief Bio: I am a semi-retired professor teaching for the English Language and Literatures Department at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Previous to 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 authoring two online courses for UBC. I am beginning a new career writing memoir and short fiction. Small Rituals is part one of a trilogy. If you’d like to learn more about my writing, please feel free to contact me: erika.paterson@ubc.ca

Self Portrait in Brugge, Spain, 2012
Self Portrait in Brugge, Spain, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s