Adventures with Ideas: Truth, Beauty, and the Paradoxes of Life.

MY BRAZILIAN (… and a kombi named Betty)

102 days, 6 countries, 3 girls, x boys & 1 kombi named Betty.

So I’ve mentioned “my book” a million and one times, the travel memoir I’ve been working on every since my trip to South America some three years ago now. Think Eat Pray Love with a twist. As described in one of my proposals:

“Beginning by following others, and chasing love, Juliet finds herself travelling down a long and winding road to Brazil — through Paris, Japan and Christianity — the so-called “first world” that sits as a background to her first-hand experiences of South America. Wrapped around this tale of travel, food and (unrequited) love, is a deeper story about the narratives that construct our sense of self, and our world. The book uses unconventional, highly reflective storytelling techniques, partially inspired by French philosophy, as it toggles between breathtaking natural beauty, romance, meditation, and long, ramshackle bus rides.”

 

Well in May 2010 I finished my first draft (250,000 words) and in December 2011 I finished editing it down to my ninth draft (97,000 words – a typical book size). It took a HUGE amount of time, dedication, and help from a number of friends including “my American” (– words fail).

I haven’t yet had much luck with the literary agent who liked my proposal back in 2010, nor a publisher I submitted to a few weeks ago. And, well, in short I’m impatient. So I think I’m going to try the e-book thing which pretty much relies on one’s own ability to do PR and catch reader’s attention. No idea yet how I’ll do that. First step is to design a cover. Either something along the lines of the one above, or this one:

Blurb for the back:

This could be a story of love, fulfilment and self-discovery. It’s not. Surrounded and engulfed by raging, clapping, endless cascades… His blog was her obsession. They were living her dream. A planet of falls, lush forest, spray and rainbows… A South American odyssey. Fractals. Conscientization. What does love mean? Just fucking go. Perspective. Whirlwind. Water tumbled 80 meters down, so powerfully that it came back up again as mist, lingering everywhere… Co-authorship. Brazil. Freedom. Awe, turmoil, and transcendence. A white dove flew fearlessly along the edge…

Contents:

Prologue: Stories

PART 1 — STRIPPED BARE
Chapter 1: Time (Sydney)
Chapter 2: Live Earth (Buenos Aires)
Chapter 3: Jesús Calling (The Gringo Trail)
Chapter 4: Enchanted Isles (Galapágos)
Chapter 5: Enough Edgar (The Gringo Trail)

PART 2 — GOING SOUTH
Chapter 6: Enferma de Amor (Cusco)
Chapter 7: Nunca Say Nunca (Bolivia)
Chapter 8: Serenity, or not (Chile)
Chapter 9: ‘Doing a Bariloche’ (Argentina)
Chapter 10: The Fall (Iguazú & São Paulo)

PART 3 — ON TOP
Chapter 11: Does Size Matter? (Southeast Coast)
Chapter 12: All’s Fair… (Arraial d’Ajuda)
Chapter 13.1: Living Naked (Salvador)
Chapter 13.2: Yes and No
Chapter 13.3: Alone, with Others
Chapter 14: The Dénouement (Rio de Janeiro)

Epilogue: Death and Rebirth

Prologue:

What do you want out of life? Love? Money? Children? Adventure? Do you ever think about why you want these things? Do you think they’ll make you happy? What if they don’t? What if this idea is a just a story? Do you ever question the story? Do you wonder where these stories come from? Do you ever wonder if there’s more to the story?

I do. I think about these things a lot.

Maybe it’s because some stories I believed in my youth proved to be false. Like the one about Jesus being the only path to God, and like the one about modelling making me feel beautiful. Losing trust in these stories makes me wonder what other things I tell myself may prove to be false. Out of distrust grew doubt, out of doubt grew curiosity. The slow tantalizing process of striping away layers, plucking apart stories and moving closer to the “Truth”. It was a process that started long before the story that I’m about to tell you, and sure to continue long after it.

In South America I plunged into a whirlwind of stories that make up cultures, history and identity. Somewhere between New York and Rio I was hoping reignite the flame and live out my dream. What followed was richer and more meaningful than I ever expected. Years’ worth of life experiences packed into 102 days, spread across six countries. It was a search for freedom, for happiness, for love — and one beautiful beaten-up kombi named Betty.

Any thoughts?

Shall I publish as an e-book? Which cover? Is it something you’d buy? How much should I price it? Some recommend putting it on there for $1. But is that de-valueing my work? Or will it help it get out there? Shall I keep trying for the traditional publishing? If you have any connections to publishers or literary agents around the world… or any thoughts on the above… I’d love love love to hear!

2 Responses to “MY BRAZILIAN (… and a kombi named Betty)”

  1. Diego says:

    Hi Juliet, glad to see that the book is ready to fly! In my humble opinion, you should be a bit more patient. Don’t publish it as an e-book. I know it’s a temptation. I’ve been there. But ‘real’ publishers don’t like authors who self-promote themselves publishing e-books. Right or wrong, this rings a bell to them – it sounds like someone who is ready for a ‘vanity press’ thing. This is not what you want. From what I can see, your book has a lot of potential. Don’t waste it. Keep submitting your manuscript to publishers. Eventually you’ll make it!
    Unfortunately I don’t know the Australian publishing market well enough to give helpful suggestions. But you might want to try Giramondo publishing (http://www.giramondopublishing.com/),an independent university-based literary publisher housed by the UWS Writing and Society Research Centre.
    Good luck!

    Diego

  2. hjh says:

    First, I am a pain in the a–e.
    Secondly, a book is only worth what somebody is prepared to pay for it.

    If an agent says this is a good book a publisher will look at it. If they print it, it is because they think/know it will make them money. If a “respected”, writer/critic reviews it and claims it to be the next Messiah all your fame/money/insecurity blah de blah de blah problems go away don’t they?( He. He). If that is what you want. Take the next two easy steps. 1. Write a classic. 2. Get an agent. The rest is history.
    Or,
    Publish the book. Get people to read it and if someone wants to buy one, ask them how much they want to give you for it and if they want it signed. ( that bits free unless you happen to be the messiah in which case I believe it’s obligatory ) If your happy about it . Job done.
    If not, write another one until you get the hang of it.
    Rejoice in life, don’t work too hard and beware of bushels as they have been known to catch fire anonymously or was that allegedly or perhaps it was allegorically. I forget.

    P.S. I have been led to believe that libraries actually buy books as opposed to trawling through charity shops as I do. I am also led to believe that real people actually borrow them on an ad hoc basis and sometimes even read them. If I published a book that sat on an actual shelf in a public library I’d stand next to it and stage whisper to anyone within earshot, “I wrote that you know”, holding up my own copy clearly showing the “authors” picture so that they didn’t call security and have me thrown out again.

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