Do it with feeling, you travel writing whore! Whhootissshhh!!!

So I fired off the latest version of my book proposal to my agent a few days back.  We’re on version 573.62 or something by now, I’ve lost track.  On a side note, I’m starting to realize that the content of the book proposal may very well be more important than the book itself.  All this crafting and tweaking feels like I’m working on a painting that will never be done, especially considering the way I paint. 

This round of fiddling was actually a lot of work.  After some very good feedback from an interested editor, my agent and I went to work on putting more of me into the proposal.  By “me”, I mean the gory details of the unspeakable thoughts and emotions that flashed through my mind as I made my way through new countries and the travel writing excitement that went along with it.

This was especially true in the introduction chapter, where, as memoirs normally dictate, the editor wanted to hear more of my back-story.  Nearly all of these memoir introductions involve the telling of a traumatic, pitiable part of the author’s life as a prelude to what led him or her do the thing that they did that warrants them to publish their memoirs at the tender age of 36.  Mine is no different (if you want the details, buy the bloody book, you morbid perverts). 

There was a brief interval when I thought that I was going to get away with writing this book without incorporating that part of my life.  Originally, the broad arc of the book (going from zero to travel writer, with self-effacing humor and the occasional rant) kind of glossed over these bits, mentioning my back-story briefly and then moving on to the good stuff; travel, writing, and mentally undressing Norwegian backpackers. 

It’s not that I’m against whoring out the ugly portions of my life or talking dirt to sell books.  Quite the opposite actually; I’ll happily dish on your mom, the Olsen Twins and Jesus if it’s called for.  It’s just that the unpleasant, discomforting back-story shtick has been done so many times, in virtually every memoir ever publish, that it seems insufferably passé now.

So at the urging of an editor that knows far better than I do, I did the dirty deed.  I wrote in great detail about the events that led to me leaving my cushy digs in Minneapolis and submitting to a lifestyle of living out of two bags, largely without comfort, income or dignity.  Fortunately, much of this text had already been written.  Two summers ago, when I had nothing better to do, I wrote a large part of what is now the introduction chapter – tentatively titled “Leif’s Totally Avoidable, Grimacing, Cautionary Back-Story” – on the off chance that a literary agent would somehow stumble on my writing, take the time to read my bio and go “Dude, that would make a killer memoir.”  Mission accomplished.

On that note, don’t ever let anyone tell you that working on a seemingly doomed project, for several obsessive months, based entirely on wishful thinking, is a waste of time.  Who’s wasting their time now Mr. Doctor of Psychiatry, huh?  Huh????

Having bagged that and gotten some preliminary positive feedback from my agent, I suppose I’m looking at yet another wait of at least four to six weeks while the proposal is submitted to various editors who will immediately go on vacation or have back surgery or something else that prevents them from reading about how much I rule until after the holidays.

In the meantime, to fill the void, I’ve resolved to click through all 2,430 cable channels that are at my disposal here in this abandoned vacation village in western Sardinia, most of which feature 24 hour programming highlighted by leggy Italian goddesses wearing little to no clothing.  You’d think after nearly three years in Europe, with female nudity being as common as male bad hair, that a mature person would be desensitized to something as trivial as bare breasts by now, but apparently that’s just not going to happen with me.

But hey, with the launching of my channel surfing endeavor, at least I finally have a hobby that doesn’t involve me sitting in front of my laptop.  Who’s not making progress now, Mr. Doctor of Psychiatry???

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