Submission for Soft Skull Press

July 20, 2021

A memoir of the imagination in three parts.

Part One: How I started a university in Honduras, or — The Promise

Statement of Intent: I am not legendary like Eileen Myles, but now that I am free, I’d like to re-emerge as an author with a loyal audience like Eileen’s.

Soft Skull press is a beautifully visceral name, it makes me think of penetration: penetrating the impenetrable, softly. Wouldn’t I love to text my ex and say, “Hey, guess what? Soft Skull press is publishing my memoir!”  But they’d go on about how it’s not really a memoir because, according to them, it’s not a true story.  Yes, there are two imaginary characters in my memoir – but, who really cares?  

Sometimes it takes an imaginary friend to reveal the hard truths.

Along with submissions of short stories to a handful of CBC writing contests and two awkward letters to literary agents, taking advantage of Soft Skull’s once a year offer to consider manuscripts is a beginning step, and I am appreciative of the chance, thank you. I am ready to reach out to a substantial social network – last time I asked for support, my one-minute video got 13.7 K hits on vimeo. I am ready to gather my audience again to follow me on a long solitary walk across Northern Spain next summer with a new website: I will walk for 66 days exploring my memories, backwards. Part two of my memoir takes place on that walk.

Women like me – born in the 50’s, liberated in the 70’s, radicalized in the 80’s, educated in the 90’s – and now so diversified beyond these generalizations, many of us no longer care to gender ourselves. So, I’ll change that to say people like me who enjoy reading memoirs and travel adventures, who have an open-ended sense of humour, a fascination for how memory works, an interest in migration, ethnography, adventure and an enduring penchant for transcendence and transformation – these are my readers.

A note on narrative style and how my work fits with Soft Skull Press. In non-linear systems the change of the output is not proportional to the change of the input (in mathematical terms that is). This seems like a fitting way to describe my writing and perhaps a metaphor for my life: sometimes over-productive and sometimes counter intuitive, always unpredictable while remaining beautifully balanced on the edge of contradictions and coincidences. I think Soft Skull’s audience will appreciate the refuge of such a fine balance and enjoy this alternative vision of lived experience.

Please enjoy the synopsis and short bio also attached with this letter of Intent.  

Again, thank you.

 Erika Paterson.