Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

Yes, like in the Neil Young song.
And this is one of those “funny” posts about living as a writer that should make me look human to potential readers and would-be Patrons.
Sure, just look at me…
So the big news this morning is we got a call from our internet service provider – they just updated the radio/sat grid we use for connecting to the web, and so we are now able to do stuff our old PCs can’t really do. But we are now in the 21st century as far as web connection is concerned: we’ve got the same transfer rates you get in, I don’t know, Seoul or Tokyo.
Which is good news, and only costs us an extra 5 bucks per bimester.

And once again I had to feel grateful for my friends, that two years ago gave me the radio/sat connection as a birthday gift – because when you are lost in Astigianistan, without the web you’re dead.

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Blood & Treasure or, I am too old for this

Seven minutes into the pilot of Blood & Treasure, the new TV series by CBS, I stopped laughing and decided that life’s too short to waste time with such irritatingly cliched writing.
And it’s a pity, really, because there’s obviously money backing the series, that was shot on location in a number of places, including my hometown of Turin, but the writing is so abysmal, I really couldn’t make it.
I wanted to, because at one point I thought it might be fun to do a post on Karavansara. I went back and restarted it.
I stopped watching 11 minutes in.

Let’s see what we are talking about…

An antiquities expert teams up with an art thief to catch a terrorist who funds his attacks using stolen artifacts.

Oh, yes, fair warning: here be SPOILERS.
True, I’m gonna spoil only the first ten minutes of the pilot, and a lot of the things you already saw in the trailer, but…

S P O I L E R S!!

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Small fries & Odd Jobs

I will devote part of this weekend to a few small writing projects. Now that the bulk of a big project’s behind me, I find my will to write back in full force. Closing a project is always soul-draining, for a number of reasons, but if nothing else, it looks like I’ve learned to bounce back quick enough.
So, what will I be doing?

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Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Writing

My brother, who plays the role of my conscience better than Jiminy Cricket, told me yesterday that I have to grow my Patreon. I was telling him that I started following a Japanese girl who has a Youtube channel where she teaches Japanese, and has over 900 supporters on Patreon, for an average of $ 5 per follower per month.
I have 42, of supporters on Patreon, people who trust me every month and bet on the fact that I will continue to write.

“You have to make sure you get more,” my brother tells me.
“Eh, it’s not easy,” I reply. “This girl holds courses, she teaches, it is clear that those interested in learning Japanese follow her …”
He shrugs his shoulders. “You also hold courses on your Patreon. That writing thing … “

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Doodling and Crimes

Today I spent a fair part of the afternoon doodling as I tried to get my next story going. I owe one of my Italian publishers a story by the end of the month. I know what I want to write, I have the characters and the general outline and direction the story will be going, I could easily have a first draft by the end of the week, just writing after diner.
But I still need an entry point.

Where does the story start?
As close as possible to action, of course, which means in the convent’s entrance hall.
But from whose point of view?
The former landed-gentry belle now making a living as a highway-woman?
Her lower-class, deceptively rough sidekick?
One of the nuns?
The old doorkeeper nun? The shrewish mother superior? A naive novice?
Somebody else altogether?

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Historical smoking and other unhealthy writing sins

I don’t smoke. I never did.
I consider it a foul habit and a waste of money. My parents did not smoke neither, my grandfathers both did (and it shortened their lives). As a kid, just walking by someone smoking usually caused me to break into a fit of cough. This was somewhat awkward during my teens and twenties, because it looked like everybody smoked then.
My girlfriend in high school smoked. Marlboros. Talk about awkward: it’s hard to be in love with someone and you start coughing like you’re about to spit a lung every time you get close to her.
But anyway…

I watched a lot of old movies, as I grew up.
I liked – and I still like today – old noirs.
Humphrey Bogart. High Sierra is one of my all-time favorites ever. The Big Sleep, too. But everything he did, really. He was a sort of role model, because like that guy said “We’re all Bogart at least once in our lives”. And Bogey always had his cigarette. The nails in my coffin, he called them.
And what about Robert Mitchum? What about all the other Marlowes of TV and Cinema?
Then there was Mike Hammer. Damn, the guy got routinely punched, stabbed and shot at, then he got home, took a shower, drank a shot of whiskey, lit a cigarette, and he was as fresh as a rose.
And don’t even get me started on James Bond.

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Revision time

Tonight I spent about three hours revising my story Bottled Up, following the extensive notes I received a few days back from the project’s editors.
It was quite interesting, because revising took me almost twice the time writing the story had taken.
As I mentioned elsewhere, working with an editor is always a great opportunity to learn something new, and this was the case.

I cut mercilessly the excess text from the opening, and then expanded the action scenes, making life for my protagonist a little harder. In full agreement with the editors, I also shortened the sentences and clarified a few points. The only suggestion I did not follow 100% was about the ending. First, because the editors had reached a split decision about the effectiveness of that last half page, and second, because in my opinion it works and gives the story a nice symmetry.

And there’s not much you can do in 2500 words – but I actually cut 400 words and added 450 new words, so I am well pleased with what I did.
The short story is already on its way to the editors, and it will be out – hypothetically – this summer.

And over the weekend my Patrons will have a chance to see the opening paragraphs of the story, before and after the editing, with some of my observations.
Because it’s good to be my Patrons, or so the story goes.