Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Something I hated for over thirty years

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Last night, chatting with my players online in a lull of our weekly game, I mentioned the fact that right now I am not able to sit down and read a good book. Or even a not-so-good book.
Fact is, I am working on the double to fulfill a number of writing contracts.
And this is good.
But at the end of the day, my brain is so spent, I can’t read anymore – I can’t focus on what’s on the page.

I am writing on the double – almost literally – a story I’ve sold to a very high profile anthology, and a story I hope to sell to another very high profile anthology. And in the meantime, I am working on a ghostwriting gig.

And here’s the rub – to write my client’s book, I need to transcribe a few hours of interviews. The sort of work that Erle Stanley Garnder handed out to an army of typists. But alas, I am no Erle Stanley Gardner, and I must do my own typing.

I always hated it.
Back when I was in university, the Petrography course was one of the great watersheds in the Geology curriculum – you followed the course, and then you failed the exam. Repeatedly.
And so you took the course again the following year. And you failed the exam again. And again.
The course was four months of lessons. Three days a week, eight hours of lecturing per day. Even while you were doing the practical on the microscope, the teacher was lecturing you.
So people started bringing recorders to class – and then, to type down the recorded lessons.
And I hated it.
Because it’s not true, what they say, that by listening to the tapes while you transcribe the text, you memorize it better.
It’s a long, boring, soul-crushing chore.
And that’s what I am doing now.

But hey, it’s a well paid job, so no complaining.
Only, I’d like to be clear-headed enough, after dinner, to enjoy a good book.
Or even a not-too-good book.

In the end, I passed that exam.
Petrography was my last exam, and I prepared it while working by night in a phone switch station – ironically, taping calls to ensure quality control.
How I did it?
I ditched the suggested book the teacher told us to use, and found a good book instead.
Bang, done. And no tapes involved.

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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