East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Bilingualism is good(-ish)


If you’re here you probably know in a perfect world I should be out there chasing dinosaurs (if, admittedly, very small dinosaurs – I am a micropaleontologist) but due to a number of events, I am currently paying my bills by writing. And it’s working out fine. True, right now they have cut my electricity, but it’s their error, not mine – the bills have been paid.

Has I have said often in the past, if you want to make a living writing, you need to write a lot, and you need to sell on the English-language market: more opportunities, more readers, better payments (or, compared to what often happens in Italy, even just plain payments).

Now, when I send a cover letter with one of my submission, I usually go

My name is Davide Mana, and I am an Italian writer, working mostly in English.

And now something interesting happened, and it went more or less this way…

“I’m an Italian writer…”
“You don’t publish in Italy, and your English work’s not in translation, so no, technically you’re not.”
“But I am not an English or American writer either…”
“Of course not. You’re Italian.”
“But I am not an Italian WRITER.”
“Exactly. Not a writer, no. But your English is very good.”

Bilingualism sucks, sometimes, what?
Also, pigeonholing and over-categorization sucks too.
Harlan Ellison said he was a writer, no need for any further definition beyond that, and I always tried to stick to that principle.
I write.
I can write fantasy, science fiction, horror, noir, thrillers, straightforward adventure, non-fiction of a variety of colors and flavors, gaming material…
I am a writer.

And now I’ll drop the detail about being Italian, probably, because it apparently causes no end of problems, and closes doors that I’d rather leave open.
The impression of having fallen through the cracks already, somehow, is strong.
I start feeling like one of those country-less men in Casablanca.
I’ll have to go and see il Signor Ferrari for papers…

See you at Rick’s.

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 “Bilingualism is good(-ish)

  1. It sounds like a perfect Kafkaesque story. You were born Italian, then became an Italian writer and finally you conquered the odd no-homeland writer status a word at a time. A collateral effect of living in a non paying editorial country as ours. I feel dizzy thinking about it.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.