Hi r/writing, I’ve recently finished a memoir and travelogue and am in the process of looking for an agent. I have two queries, both from the same book, and am wondering which summary piques your interest more.
Instead of an adventure, my trip was meant to be a vacation. I had finished grad school just weeks before, losing friends, money, and my sanity along the way. But now came the trip of a lifetime: two weeks in Brazil to watch the World Cup. Along the way I met some friends who helped two weeks turned into a full summer–a three-month struggle of working odd jobs in a country where I didn’t speak the local language. Then it was time to decide where home would be.
Was I going to let exorcisms, robbers, the language barrier, and epilepsy stop me? I didn’t know if I would sink or swim, but I knew there was only one way to find out. I cancelled my flight back to the U.S.
After I found my footing abroad, things got easier. Jobs were easy to find, friends were easy to make, blackouts were less frequent, and every month brought a new adventure. Life on the road was stable. Then She walked in. Her eyes hypnotized me instantly.
The next two years were a tragicomedy told across six continents, one of equal parts adventure and disaster. I battled with PTSD while working at refugee camps, fought off greedy cops while trying to escape greedier cops, hitchhiked through Patagonian winter, saw the Middle East with a perspective I had never known as a soldier, and struggled with my own illness and financial ruin while trying to help a grieving family, all the while depending the support of strangers.
My sink-or-swim adventure threatened to drown me, but through it all I saw the same hypnotic eyes. Would she pull me out of the water?
It was supposed to be a vacation. I had finished graduate school a week before, losing friends, money, and my sanity along the way. But now came the trip of a lifetime: two weeks in Brazil, free of deadlines, stress, and responsibility. I lucked out and met friends who turned the two weeks into three months, but along the way reality hit. I didn’t speak Portuguese. I struggled with epilepsy and blacked out several times. My bank deactivated my credit cards. I was a magnet for robbers.
When summer ended it was time to decide where home would be. Was I going to view my new difficulties as warnings or as challenges? I didn’t know if I would sink or swim, but I knew there was only one way to find out. I canceled my return flight to the U.S.
After I found my footing, things began to click. Jobs were easy to find, languages were easier to pick up, friends were easy to make, blackouts were less frequent, and every month brought a new adventure. Life on the road was stable. Then I wanted to be more than a backpacker. I got as far from the Gringo Trail as I could and quickly found myself living and working among Afghans in refugee camps, Kenyans trying to escape slums, and indigenous Bolivians trying to scrape a living from the rocky ground. Sometimes things slowed down and I found myself working at hotels with Syrian immigrants or living at lodges while teaching Malawian children, but my goal remained the same: learn from everyone I meet and help everyone I can.
The more I focused on others, the more I fell apart. I battled with crippling PTSD, greedy police officers, seizures, depression, financial ruin, death of loved ones, and physical injury, all while depending on the support of total strangers. The trip became a tragicomedy told across six continents over two years, but with each month I remembered less and less what vacation felt like. If it was sink or swim, I was sinking quickly.
Would the people I came to help end up rescuing me instead?