East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Snowed in

The First of February came with a heavy snowfall, that started in the night and added up to the 30 cms we had got a week ago. This caused the day’s plans to go somewhat askew – we were supposed to drive to the supermarket for provisions, and will do it tomorrow instead, and spent the warmest hours of the afternoon shoveling snow off the lane.

This is the sort of thing I should post as an example of the funny surreal things that happen to writers when they should be writing instead. Shoveling snow or, like two days ago, running barefooted in the snow to try and catch the postman before he disappears.
What a cartload of laughs, uh?
You read of things like that and instantly you decide to follow me on Patreon.

But I’m being uselessly snarky.
I did need a bit of exercise, and shoveling snow was a good opportunity.

I keep writing, and tonight it’s going to be one long writing session. Also, I’m going to try a new writing trick. Then on the weekend I’ll be working on another project.


Immortality through art

My brother is an amateur criminologist with a thing for Jack the Ripper – maybe I have already mentioned in the past his blog, Red Jack – and yesterday he mentioned to me two interesting facts:

  • Fact the first: we live in the area of Italy with the highest suicide rate in the nation (a fact I already knew and I think I mentioned in one of the Buscafusco stories)
  • Fact the second: the Christmas season is the time in the year with the highest rate of suicides – the forced merriment increases the sense of solitude, just as the shopping frenzy can push people in financial difficulties towards dark thoughts.

And today a friend, a widely published British writer, mentioned on Facebook the fact that he once sought immortality through his art – or, if not sought, he sort of gave it a thought – but nowadays he’s sceptical. He observed, and I agree, that our books are not a reliable portrait, as they represent a snapshot of what we were in a certain moment in time.

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The case of the missing parcel

You remember the bit about sharing the funny and surreal bits of the everyday life of a freelance writer, in order to captivate the audience and, in theory, sell more books and get more Patreon supporters?

Well, try this one for size…

A few months back I translated a short essay in narrative form, about time travel and politics, The Political Travails of Time Travel, by Tamil writer and poet Gouthama Siddarthan. It was a fun job, and I enjoyed it greatly. The book in question was published – in a number of different languages – and is having a well-deserved success, and you might want to check it out.

The author was so nice he sent me a bunch of copies of the printed work. Here is where the funny and surreal bit begins.

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Show, don’t tell

We were talking about writers and social media with some friends, yesterday, and how you are supposed to post regularly and get Likes on Facebook and shares and what not to increase your reach and develop your platform. I hate it. I mean, when I post something on my Facebook profile or my Twitter channel, or indeed here on my blog, it’s not, usually, thinking

Wow! The punters will love this! My Social Media Score will go up!

So yes, I suck at social media.
On the other hand, talking with my friends, I found out a lot of writers feel awkward about strutting their stuff online just for clicks. An we identified three types of social media writers we really can’t stand.
So, why not post a brief profile of these guys. Maybe I’ll get a lot of likes and shares…

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A coin tossed from the bridge

I have mentioned in the past the movie Le Bossu (On Guard for the English-speaking markets), a fine French swashbuckler from twenty years ago that I like very much and used to watch every time it passed on TV hereabouts, and now have on DVD and watch at least once a year.
Great action, fine story, excellent cast.
Great movie, watch it!

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

In the movie, the main character, Lagardere, recalls the time when, as a Paris street urchin, he had developed a stunt that allowed him to make some money: he would ask the passers-by to toss a coin in the Seine, and he would dive behind it from a bridge, and retrieve it as it sank in the water of the river.
He even had a short rhyming song, to hook the punters.

Needless to say, Lagardere’s skill of diving from bridges and disappearing under the surface of the river will come handy later in the story.

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More writing advice: don’t let them know

When I was young and reckless, I received a piece of advice about writing that later I forgot.
The advice was

Never never never let them know how fast you can write.

It is an excellent piece of advice, but I was stupid, and I forgot about it. And they found out how fast I can write.
Up to 2000 words per hour on a decent first draft – it is a necessity, yu see: when you pay your bills by writing, you have to write a lot to make sure you’ll have enough when the guys from the bank come a-callin’.
So yes, you are fast.
And you were foolish enough to let them know.
And this, as the man that gave me that piece of advice so many years ago well knew, is a problem. Continue reading


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