East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Useful lessons, and where to find them

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Yesterday I posted an article for my Patrons, in which I tangentially compared this writing business to being an adventurer.
And I know, it’s a romantic notion, it’s me telling stories about myself to paint a veneer of glamour over the tight budget and the overdue bills, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it: writing for a living is like setting off on a long journey to find the ancient ruins of the Lost City, or crossing an ocean on a sailing ship.

Having recently discovered the works of Alastair Humphreys, I’ve been reading Ten Lessons from the Road, a motivational handbook based on Humphreys experiences during his four years travelling around the world on a bicycle.

Some insight on the mindset of a regular guy that did something extraordinary is good information for future writing – portraying realistic, even flawed characters is part of the job, and monolithic, unflinching, driven heroes get boring fast.
Much better to know how it feels after one year on the road, and you don’t see an end to it, and be able to put that on the page.

And really, aren’t the doubts we meet during our daily job of sitting and writing a few pages exactly the same as the doubts and pains the lone traveler has along his road?

And there’s also another bit, in Humphrey’s book, that has got me thinking.

It goes like this: a few days ago I got a brilliant idea for a small book. One that would not make me a single penny but

  • would help do some good
  • would be loads of fun to write
  • would probably give me a nice return in terms of image and brand

There’s only a catch: I’d need to get in touch with certain people, and offer my work to them, as an act of goodwill from a total stranger.
What would they say? What if I sound crazy, or conceited, an egotist, a delusional nonentity? What if they laugh at my idea, or shrug it off?
What if they say no?

But the other side of the coin is, of course: what if they like it?
That would be great, right?

As I ruminated over this whole situation, I started reading Humphrey’s booklet, and found the subject of indecision, fear of failure and fear of other people’s response to us is covered.

So, my ruminations are vindicated.
After all, what’s the worst that can happen?
That my idea is rejected?
Isn’t that part of the game, with every story I submit?
Why should I consider this new project different in any way?

So yes, I’ll try it.
No barrier between thought and action.
Or something like that.
I’ll keep you posted.

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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