East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Language and Stories


I’m writing a story.
It’s an alternate history short story for a forthcoming project.
I will not disclose the details, but I can safely say that it’s a story that features Carole Lombard – because I love Carole Lombard, and she’s the right woman in the right place, so to speak, for the story I want to write.

Annex - Lombard, Carole_09

Scanned by Frederic. Reworked by Nick & jane for Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans website: http://www.doctormacro.com. Enjoy!

The story that I am writing, in fact – 1000 words done last night… and that’s what I want to talk about.

This being a no-pay job, something I am doing for fun with a bunch of friends1 just for the hell of it, I’m working on it in my spare time2.
So yesterday night I was writing and I took a pause, mid-scene, to brew me some tea: the days are pretty hot already, but when the sun goes down it’s still cold hereabouts, and a nice cup of tea helps a lot.
So I boiled some water and I brewed some tea, then I came back to the keyboard, sipping my tea, and I started writing again, and it all went well until I decided it was time to call it a day.
As the last thing for the night, I re-read the scene to see if it worked well.
And it worked quite nicely, really, thank you, but there was one minor drawback: the first half was in Italian, the second half was in English.

Fact is, I’ve spent so much time now writing mostly in English, that it’s become my default voice when writing fiction – I hear dialogs in my inner ear in English, and in general I find English more flexible and more suited to my purposes.
And yesterday’s experience goes to show that it’s become automatic.
Not only – it is making my Italian writing dull, and slow.

Indeed, I’m starting to think it would be easier for me to write my story in English straight away and then translate it as I do the final revision and editing – if nothing else, in this way I’d have an English-language version ready, to try and sell, or to share with the Karavansara Blog mailing list members.

What do you say?

  1. my decision not to write for free anymore (that was not taken well by some) does not include charity work or work done for plain good fun. Everybody else has to cross my palm with silver, but charities and old friends don’t. 
  2. yes, I still find some time to spare, despite it all. 

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.

2 thoughts on “Language and Stories

  1. This may have been explained in a previous blog post that I unfortunately missed, but I’ve been wondering: How did you come to be fluent in both Italian and English?


    • Glorious results of a misspent youth: I started reading at an early age, and never stopped. When I was around 14 years old (that is, 36 years ago), I reasoned that by reading in English, books would come cheaper, and last longer.
      My first book in English, a novel by Clifford D. Simak, took me six months to finish.
      But I did not look back and went on – and today I mostly read in English. Once again, more variety, cheaper books.
      This gave me a huge vocabulary compared to what one normally learns in school.
      Meanwhile, in 1992, I spent one year in London, working by day and studying by night – and that gave my English a ferocious workout.
      When I got back I started teaching English (and Italian to English speakers), and finally I got myself a proficiency certificate.

      Liked by 1 person

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