Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A bag marked swag

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I’m just out of a day in which I wrote about 15.000 words, so I’m a bit intoxicated by the fatigue and all that, and I’ll be rambling. You’ve been warned.
And I’ll start this with a song, a song I already posted in the past (I’m pretty sure about it), but believe, it’s on topic, and you should listen to it before you go on.

It’s good, isn’t it?
I love this song, and I was absolutely surprised and delighted when a while back I caught an interview of Paddy McAloon, the author and singer (and the guy that plays all instruments on this track), and he was saying that this song is not about jewel heists, but actually about writing.
And I thought, damn, yes!1
And not just because I’d love to be the Cary Grant of imaginative fiction, but because it’s right.
If, as Lawrence Block said in a beautiful book, writing is Telling Lies for Fun and Profit, then writing IS also like stealing jewels.
Because yes, it requires the intellectual skills of the con man – I must tell you a story and make you believe it’s true, and surprise you even if you know what it’s in it and that’s why you are reading it in the first place – but it also requires physical training, the ability to sit and type for hours, fast, good. It’s a physical job2.

I was thinking, as I approached today’s quota for Better Never Told, about some sports that are not apparently as physical as others.
Take sharp shooting.
The guys that do carbine shooting at the Olympic games are not so emphatically physical as, say, weight lifters or marathon runners, but there is a physical training in there, too, and I am certain it is a strenuous, taxing and indispensable as training is fr any other sports discipline.
You need to control your breathing, and stay focused, and achieve a sort of “standard optimal performance”, so that your shooting becomes consistent.
It requires training.
So does pulling bags full of diamonds from underneath rich ladies’ pillows.
And so does writing.
These activities require mastery, and that’s what we are all striving for, I guess.

I’m at the end of my current boot camp sort of training sessions – I’ve just nailed 33200 words of the 42000 story I’m writing, and I feel like the best jewel thief in the world. Tomorrow we close it for good, or bust.

But while I was writing this somewhat rambling story, I also wrote and posted on KDP a 12.000 words short, written under an alias, and tomorrow, before I start finishing Better Never Told, I’ll write the final draft of a 3500 words short about an alternate storyline in which Carole Lombard enlists Robert A. Heinlein to be her press liaison as she runs for POTUS – because she did not die in that cursed plane crash, you see. It will be called Queen of the Screwballs3.
And I also wrote other stuff, and did a bit of translating…

It was great, and that’s why I feel like the Best Jewel Thief in the World right now.

1118full-to-catch-a-thief-photo

But there’s another bit in that song, that struck a note (ah!) with me tonight.

Masked and dressed in black
You scramble over rooftops

It’s been told me that this 42K-words stunt won’t serve as publicity, but in all truth, I’d rather stay masked and dressed in black, out of sight – it’s the stories that should speak, those are the building blocks of legends, where writing is concerned.
And the speed at which you wrote them means nothing.
I’m tired of platforms and social networking, and having to be cool, or nice to the right persons, or any of that stuff. There’s too many guys out there that are not selling their stories, but selling their own accurately designed persona.
That’s not writing, there’s no mastery in it, and you don’t make a living that way.
But what do all of those losers know?


  1. in all fairness, there’s so much stuff that pushes my buttons in this song, I can’t but love it. But it’s nice knowing it’s about writing. 
  2. apparently the parallel I made between writing and prostitution I did on my Italian blog a few days back confused some simple souls out there; but it’s a fact I keep comparing my craft to a lot of criminal and morally questionable activities. Is there a shrink in the house? 
  3. this will go in an Italian anthology a friend is putting together, but I am actually writing this in English (and then I’ll translate it), so I’ll probably make it available in English too, later this year. 
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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 “A bag marked swag

  1. Sports like shooting requires months of preparation before any important meeting, not to mention a serious regime of physiscal exercise. They could not be so nice to see in their uniforms but the strenght required to be in the top level is enourmous.

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