East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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What a week!

Sometimes life gets better than fiction – and mind you, I write thrillers, fantasy and horror, stuff featuring pigmy zombie cannibals, so that “better” must be taken with a grain of salt.
A big grain of salt.

Last summer, while the pandemic was all the rage and the nation was going in and out of lockdown, some of my power bills got lost – never delivered, for some reason or other. I tried to get in touch with my power company, and got dead letter on the whole front – no reply to my mails, perpetual muzak on the phone.
I worried, but not that much – I mean, services companies always find a way to get their money, right?
So I waited for a signal.
I paid the bills as they came, and waited for developments.

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Bilingualism is good(-ish)

If you’re here you probably know in a perfect world I should be out there chasing dinosaurs (if, admittedly, very small dinosaurs – I am a micropaleontologist) but due to a number of events, I am currently paying my bills by writing. And it’s working out fine. True, right now they have cut my electricity, but it’s their error, not mine – the bills have been paid.

Has I have said often in the past, if you want to make a living writing, you need to write a lot, and you need to sell on the English-language market: more opportunities, more readers, better payments (or, compared to what often happens in Italy, even just plain payments).

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The power of the Longlist

Thanks to my inclusion in the BSFA Longlist for the short fiction award, I’m experiencing a sudden surge in popularity – a friend interviewed me for his YouTube channel, and now the local news “is available for an interview”. And I am really eager to see what will happen, considering the last two times they wrote about me, they got my name wrong, once calling me “Daniele Menna” – because “Davide Mana” is such a complicated name to get right.

This is very strange.
I wonder what might happen should I win… women tossing their bras and their hotel room keys to me, like they did with Tom Jones?
And also, what would happen, should I not get an award – which, let’s be realistic, is the likeliest eventuality – … what then? Oblivion, hostility… what?

All of this is a sharp reminder of the fact that such things can be gratifying, and of course I’m excited about being longlisted and all that, and it’s an important sign that I am doing at least something right, and an award would be crazy good, but one would be wrong putting too much stock in all of this. In the end, the stories are all that remains, and what people felt reading them.

Which is the reason why I am happy to have sent away two pitches today, and I am currently working on a third.
Daniele Menna can probably rest on his laurels. I can’t.

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So you’ve got a cold.
The world – or at least a fair chunk of it – is going bonkers, and you’re going through one of your usual bouts of insomnia.
It’s three am and you’re unable to stream the new Lupin TV series.
Your house is cold as a Viking hell, and you don’t feel like writing.
What better opportunity to back-up your data and then update your operating system?

Fast forward to seven hours later.
You are trying to roll-back a failed update, while your PC refuses to connect to the web.
You start thinking that this year 2021 is going to give 2020 a run for its money.
You are cursing ancient Lovecraftian gods.

Then, thankfully, your computer programmer brother finds a way to get your LAN working again, you go online and the roll-back fails, but now you can try the update again, and it sort of works.
You have the whole afternoon to re-install the bits that are missing.

Your PC works – and it’s the perfect time to find out that all of your backed up data was lost, because the portable HD you used acted up. You have a fine collection of empty folders.

The weekend will never come too soon.

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Season’s Greetings

In the classic Christmas Movie Gremlin (hey, it is a classic!), the character of Kate observes how the Christmas season is the hardest day for lonely and depressed people.

While everybody else are opening up their presents, they’re opening up their wrists.

And indeed, a lot of people out there are being hit hard.
I usually realize things are taking a bad turn because my insomnia is replaced by absolute lethargy – I’d sleep all day, and it’s probably a coping mechanism, a way to shut out the problems.

Because they get thicker and weirder on Christmas, don’t they?
Yesterday I got an overdue payment bill that I thought I had discussed and settled with the guys.
I’ve got the money to cover it, but what the hell, a menacing letter two days before Christmas?
How come bills and hassles always hit us two days before Christmas?
And this morning both water and power were cut – because a pipe exploded somewhere because of the cold, and to work on it, they (accidentally?) cut the power for the whole village.
Merry Christmas.
Or something.

So, it’s going to be hard – this year probably harder than in the past.
We know it, we can take it.
Hold on tight out there, and if you feel the tide is rising too fast and you’re going to go under, reach out to someone and seek help. There is nothing wrong with seeking help.

And to cheer you up, here’s a song from another movie that deserves to be a Christmas classic.
Check it out.
And Happy Holidays.

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Curses and spells

According to my friend Flavio, writers should learn to place curses on their books, to hit people that would not pay the writer, or copy and distribute illegally their work. Some dark, ancient ritual to summon the Copyright Demon, if you will.

Just like me, Flavio makes his living by writing, and not being paid is a major professional risk for writers, especially hereabouts, especially in these strange times of the COVID.

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