Sunday, November 10, 2013

Using all of the Buffalo

I know! Two posts in two days! This one was pretty easy, because I'm repurposing. 

As I try to figure out what to do with my second or new lease on life, I've been emailing a lot of queries to literary agents. Actually, I've been sending one query to many different agents. In the spirit of not letting anything I write go to waste -- and despite the fact that most if not all of you are not in the business of publishing -- I'd like to share that letter here. So far, I've had some very nice, personalized rejections, which is actually somewhat encouraging. One of the sticking points may in fact be the venue in which my "work" (pretentious word for stuff I've written) originated. Admittedly, translating this from digital to paper is not a challenge for the faint of heart. I'm reminded of a writing class in which I unsuccessfully tried to enroll in college (it was full) -- on Hypertext writing. At the time (early 1990s), it was based in a Mac program called Hypercard. Because it was so self-contained (i.e. no internet), the intention was to simply allow for non-linear storytelling (Choose Your Own Adventure-style). For me, here, the web has allowed hypertext to accommodate my scattershot train of thought and tendency toward referencia obscura.That said, I have no proof that anyone clicks on the links I include here (to think of all the effort I put in for you people). And even with the advent of e-readers and smart devices, it seems paper refuses to go the way of the dinosaur. Voracious readers say they would miss the feel or smell of books (why has no one created a Kindle add-on that emits a bookish odor? This is as close as I've found); but I wonder if it's also that in this era of Go-go gadget multi-tasking, people just enjoy the stillness of being transported by a medium with no ulterior motives.

Without further ado, here's my sales pitch. Speaking of which, don't forget my recumbent tricycle campaign at the right (thanks to everyone who's donated and to my parents for the recumbent stationary bike so I can train this winter):

Dear [],

For a good part of summer 2010, I was placing bets (with myself) on which would be capped first -- the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill or the “giant” cerebral aneurysm (real medical term) in my right temporal lobe. BP won, but just barely. And the ongoing clean-up work may be comparable.

In January of 2011, when Gabby Giffords was shot in the head and began her long recovery -- including cranioplasty with a plastic skull flap -- I was returning home from inpatient rehabilitation for a stroke and cranioplasty with a plastic skull flap. Such is My Life as a Semicolon.

What is My Life as a Semicolon?
I -- Ken Shapiro -- was born and raised in a nurturing and sheltered home in suburban New Jersey (i.e. bad things only happened to “other people”); graduated from Brown University with a degree in Media/Culture (whatever that means);  am a husband, father of two young boys, and a Knowledge Manager (whatever that means) for a large disability insurance company in Maine. At the age of 40, I experienced the most traumatic and meaningful events of my life – events which on some level will always haunt and define me and which I also strive to grow beyond – the brain surgery and stroke which have left me weak on my left side but strong in my resolve to use my experience to help others. As part of this effort to grow beyond my circumstances, I have reached out through my blog and was asked to speak about the value of blogging as a brain injury recovery tool at a Maine Medical Center Neuroscience Institute conference in late October 2013.                                                                                                           
The blog links included above provide writing samples as well as a chronology and structure to take my work from online to printed form. Weaving my story through a span of time before, during and after critical events -- interspersed with the concerned voices of my wife, friends, and relatives through blog comments -- I believe creates a compelling narrative. While my situation is somewhat unique, many of the lessons are universal to anyone personally or vicariously suffering a serious health crisis.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my proposal.


Ken Shapiro
@semicolonblow on Twitter

1 comment :

  1. Have you considered becoming a member of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance? They might be a good resource for agents. Good luck!