East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Fear of finishing, part 2

And let’s admit it, it is fitting that a post about the endless reworking / rewriting / tweaking / revising we do to our work in order to push the finish line as far as possible should have a second part.
I mean, the first was not quite finished, right?

Well, here is where I talk about academia, roleplaying games, and “the funny incidents that happen when you try and make your living as a writer” (remember? this was the topic of the comic book I was told to start posting instead of these useless words I am putting on my blog and nobody reads anyway).

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Fear of finishing

I’ve got another bunch of revisions from my current client, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the gentleman is a victim to something we (meaning, we that write regularly, to a market, for a living) should know quite well: it’s the fear of finishing.
I’ve seen people crash and burn because of that.

I do not know what the psychological mechanism actually is, but there is this increasing sense of anxiety bordering on panic that sometimes settles in when you approach the end of a story you are writing. You suddenly feel the need to re-read, revise, re-write, start it all over. What up to yesterday was quite fine, now is not that good anymore.
Because you are so close to sending it off to the editor, or to the publisher, or to the Amazon KDP oompa-loompas, and you can’t do that unless this is absolutely perfect and right now quite clearly it is not.

I believe that becoming a professional writer means also being able to overcome this fear, being able to say “his is enough, this is as good as it will ever be, let’s put it out there and see if it can cope.”

Considering my client is availing himself of the services of a ghostwriter, he should trust me enough to live through this last phase easily.
But this whole project has been based on a hard core of mistrust in my abilities, and as a consequence, right now, my client is panicking, and there is nothing I can do but let him exhaust himself.
I could try and explain it to him again, but he would not listen anyway.

On to writing my own stories to fill the vacuum while I wait.

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A forced vacation

Somebody said once that writers never take time off – you’re in the queue at the supermarket, and you’re mentally working on something… ruminating a plot point, stealing a snippet of eavesdropped conversation for recycling in your work in progress, considering what chances are for your next submission.
A vacation – that in my case might mean, sitting in the shade in my courtyard, with a bowl of ice cream and a good book – is not different – that good book I’d be reading? It’s still part of the learning process, still a source of ideas, or a sample of someone’s writing I admire, and I’d like to be able to emulate.
When you make a living writing, your brain never lets up.

And yet…

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Imperfect Interview

So I was interviewed online, using Facebook, daring the horror of the nested comments and Mr Zuckerberg less than perfect notification system. It was fun, I was dutifully grilled by the attendees, and I hope we will do it again.

And now, for your entertainment, here’s a quick-and-dirty translation of what was asked, and what was answered.

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I should be writing

Today it was a strange day.
It started early this morning, as I delivered the first draft of a 100.000-words novel I wrote as a ghostwriter.
Then I was contacted by a perspective client for a translation – “everybody tells me your translations are terrible, but depending on your price I might give you the job.”
And goodness knows I need the money – summer is always a hard time, and coming just after the lockdown, it is twice so – but there is a limit; my dignity will not pay the mortgage, but neither will accepting this sort of blackmail.

Then I submitted two flash fictions to two different magazines – which brings the total number of submission this year to 27. Not bad. I do not have many hopes for the two flash fictions, but well, if you don’t mail them they won’t reject them, but they can’t buy them either.

And finally, I did an interview on Facebook – on the page of the popular Italian lit blog Liberi di Scrivere, I took all comers, and answered their questions. It was a fun way to spend one hour – and I hope my interviewers were as pleased as I was.
As soon as the interview is out, I’ll ask permission to translate it, and post it here.

And now here I am, doing a bit of research for a short folk horror story I’d love to write and submit before the weekend.

Thank goodness I still find writing an endless source of fun.

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The Poor Writer’s Dinner

I was talking with a friend, today, about a book I always liked a lot – Elizabeth David’s An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, a classic collection of food writing and other wonders published in ’84 and compiling a selection of thirty-odd years of the writer’s articles on magazines and newspapers.

I was also celebrating the fact that yesterday, for the first time in over six weeks of lockdown, I was able to find eggs at the supermarket.

This led to talking about food, and the fact that I have learned to eat well on a very tight budget, and thiis led to the the idea of a challenge – can I prepare a good simple dinner for two people, spending less than 3.50 euro each, that is 7 euro in total?
Considering that a Margherita pizza is 4.50 and a pack of crisps at the local grocery is 2.50, what could I do?, I was asked.

Well, I said, I’ll show you what I can do…
And this is quite interesting, as my #StoryADayMay from a few days back asked me to compile a list, and give it a meaning. So, here’s to killing tow birds with a stone. This is the Poor Writer’s Dinner.

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There is money on your account

One of the most irritating mails that pop up in my mailbox from time to time come from PayPal, and they are sent to remind me that I have money on my account, and here’s a selection of ways in which I might like to burn them.

Now, apart from the fact that I never needed suggestions to find ways to spend my money, really, the fact that there is still some credit in my PayPal is usually reason to celebrate. PayPal has been functioning like my last-ditch fund for four years now, and there’s been moments when without PayPal we would have not been able to eat.
So, yay, there’s funds on the account!

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