East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Lessons learned, stories told

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So, now is the time for the sort of post that goes things that I have learned writing a short srtory in one day.
My guru tells me this is the sort of post that brings readers like, in cartloads, and so here we go.


The first thing one learns in this kind of exercise is I can still make it!
Which is very good because if we do not boost our enthusiasm ourselves, nobody will.
This time I did it as a game, but the ability to stick to the story and bring it to a (satisfactory? One hopes so) conclusion, is vital.
Deadlines are a thing.

Also worth remembering, is the fact that we need to pace ourselves.
Take breaks, eat a cookie and drink some tea, go for a walk.
Also considering that we do have a life, so our walk can be to the grocer, and our break the time needed to cook dinner.

Which reminds me… I was shown a video, published online by an Italian literary agency, about how foolish it is to write.
Fact is, in a country of 60 million people in which there are only 6 million people reading a book a month, the number of writers exceeds by far the number of readers.
Hence the idea of doing this sort of “Don’t be a fool! Don’t do it!” publicity.
Can you smell desperation? I guessed so.
Anyway, among the many banalities and clichés that were offered to discourage budding writers was the phrase

“as a writer, you love the world so much that you hole yourself up in your darkened room, alone and isolated, and invent your own”

What rubbish!
Considering that there’s nothing wrong with inventing worlds… (objectively, the most commercially successful novels out there take place in invented worlds, so sue me)… but anyway it does not work like that.
The reclusive author in his cold and damp garret is a myth.
One that many authors like to propagate, but a myth.
Just like in the time of the hunters-gatherers, those that write are those that go out there, observe the world, and then come back and tell stories around the fire, and paint strange vistas on the cave’s walls.
We are explorers, not recluses.

And finally, it’s been good to realize that there is always an element of fear.
It doesn’t matter if it comes before you push the send button and mail the manuscript to the publisher, or before you click and share the post with the links.
It’s going public.
It’s letting someone else read our story, and judge it.
And the judgement is scary.

And it makes me wonder – why am I not so afraid of posting blog posts?
That’s going public too, right?

Anyway – Behind the Copper Mask was a fun story to write.
Will it also be a fun story to read?
That’s for the readers to say.
Feedback, as usual, is welcome.

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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