East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

I feed on ideas

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Pulpy sort of title, what?
I should write a story to it.

But the fact is, you see, I just had one of those horrible, horrible grief and self-loathing attacks as I watched a very interesting video on Youtube: Richard Dawkins interviewing Derren Brown.


Now, this is a package that has everything to capture me: a scientist and science popularizer I like very much, interviewing a famous illusionist I follow and appreciate.
And of course Dawkins is a colleague (evolution being our plaything) and stage magic is, I often said that, strictly connected with writing. And I did some magic tricks when I was a kid.

So, why the self-loathing?
Obviously, because I’ve got lots of stuff to do, deadlines are looming closer, and the projects keep multiplying. Spending one full hour watching a biologist interview a magician feels like wasting time.
I should be doing this, revising that, checking my mail, looking for those informations…

And I hate that, because that’s wrong, and I should not feel guilty about it.
As a writer (for good or for bad, that’s what paying the bills) I feed on ideas.
I need to get ideas, opinions, snippets of dialogue, new strange facts, just as I need to talk to someone, exchange ideas.
Spending ten hours a day writing and then crashing on the bed and then do it again, and again, not only is bad for my health – physical and mental – but is also bad for my work.
I write less, I write poorly, I waste a lot of time scratching the stuff I spent two hours doing, or revising it for publication.

If I take time for a good book, a movie or a documentary, a walk or some music, I actually work better, I’m faster, and I feel less tired at the end.
And I know it.
But yet, there is this weird idea – that you should apply yourself full time to your work (be it writing, or training dancing skunks, or building bridges), without looking up, without distractions, without thinking about anything else.
Without thinking, stop, very often.
And so I am here, and instead of enjoying myself and making the most of this great interview, I’m kicking myself, and I feel bad.
I blame school for that, and I wonder if really our school, when I was a kid, was geared towards creating factory workers and nothing else.
No imagination, no interests – work, feed, crash in bed, redo from start.


But the time of factories is over, right?

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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