East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Funny, exciting and weird

I’ve been told I should do a series of posts about the funny and exciting and weird everyday life of a full-time writer.
Maybe not even posts, because nobody bothers with reading a blog these days, but maybe find a cartoonist and start a daily strip about the funny and exciting and weird everyday life of a full-time writer.


And admittedly it would be fun. Continue reading


Historical accuracy

My friend Shanmei is writing another historical mystery (we talked about her first mystery story here).
The book is set on the route between Italy and China at the turn of the century, and is loosely based on her grand-grandfather’s diaries and letters.
Looks good.
A few days back, Shanmei asked her readers what level of historical accuracy they think is needed for an historical mystery like the one she’s writing.

9-7And of course, that’s the sort of question one should never ask – the writer decides, and takes responsibility – but some of the answers she received got me thinking.
They were, more or less…

A high level of historical accuracy tells me the writer worked hard.

That is, of course, rubbish.
But an interesting kind of rubbish, so let’s examine in closely. Continue reading


A new magazine, and a dead end

They tell me I am weird.
A new magazine is being launched in my country.
They seek stories (no genre specified, but that’s all right), up to 15.000 characters – which is more or less 3000 words.
And I am always looking for new markets, so… why not?
They are willing to read our stories, they say, but they don’t mention any payment. So I ask what rate they are paying.
The answer arrives pretty fast…

We do not have funds to pay for the stories.

But they will sell the magazine. Continue reading

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Working on the “Don’t Look Back Method”

I have been observing myself, comparing the difference between my straight writing sessions and my online/public writing sessions.
The question is: why given the same time and in general the same level of preparation, I can write 2/3000 words in two hours when streaming and only 1500 when I am alone?
I had noted the difference in output a while back, and was curious. And here’s the result of my little survey.

image typewriter

When I am writing on my own, so to speak, I jump up and down the text a lot. I correct, change, revise. I check sources. I do a lot of little adjustments. Cut and paste. Delete and redo.
When I am writing online I just go, saving most of the revisions for later. Granted, I stop once in a while to retro-fit what I wrote before, but most often than not I just add a note to remind myself I should do a revision, and then keep going.

This seems to be the main cause for the difference in productivity.

Now one thing I will try and do – first experiment tonight – is to see if, by applying the same don’t look back method while offline, and by using a distraction-free interface, I can improve my output.
It would be nice, because never like these days I need to write a lot, and fast.
I will keep you posted.

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From Seoul to Ancient Rome, and back

Back from the con, and beached with a bad case of cold.
Happens every time – I am getting too old for this sort of things.
The cold led to some experimentation: hot tea from the local supermarket, brewed real dark, added lemon juice, sugar and powdered ginger. Maybe it will not help with the cold (I put my trust in aspirin) but it’s certainly good for the soul.


Also, I got an open call for a story set in Seoul (no, the two things, the call and the cold, are not related).
Now, the closest I got to Seoul was when a colleague from Seoul University visited the University of Urbino while I was doing my doctorate. But I have friends in Fukuoka, Japan, that’s pretty close to Korea. I could work out something.

The considerations above had two consequences: Continue reading