East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The comfort of strangers

It’s been rough going these last two months, and it’s not over yet.
I’m pushing myself to keep writing and putting together ideas, because it’s either keep moving or die, and yet I’m once again going through one of my bouts of black moods.

In particular, I’m somewhat tired of failing repeatedly in learning from past errors, especially where evaluating other people comes into play.
If I were as good at picking the right horses as I am in trusting the wrong people, I could make a living at the racetrack.

And yet there is an up side, and it’s the fact that in these two months, as people took a bad turn for a number of reasons and old friends and connections vanished or turned out to be more than willing to move to Cold Shoulder County, I was also treated, again and again at the kindness of strangers, receiving a helpful hand from distant acquaintances.

So I can’t really say I’m losing my faith in humanity – I am not, because humanity is great as always. Maybe it’s the slice of humanity I kept close that’s not that great.

Anyway – I’m wasting a lot of time, and I should be working on a thousand different projects.
But we’ll get out of this pit yet.

Meanwhile, some good music to close this dreary Sunday.

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A trip to the supermarket

I know everybody’s expecting a free horror/adventure short story or something, because, you know, Halloween and all that but, truth to be told, I’ve been feeling damn lazy these last few days, and also, today I took a trip to the supermarket to buy provisions for the next few weeks, because there’s a new lockdown looming.

And it was not a proper horror or adventure, but for certain it did exacerbate my already tired feelings for humanity.
So I thought I’d jot down a few anthropological notes, for your general enjoyment…

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Translations, monitors, contracts and a long walk

It’s been a long rainy day. I started this morning working on a translation (a screenplay for an animation series), then had to go and dig out an old monitor from storage when my brother’s monitor died, then finally got the counter-signed contract I had been waiting for … now the wait for the advance to arrive (and it will be never too soon … we need to buy a new monitor).

So, all in all, it’s been a busy day, waiting for tonight when we’ll start playing my new campaign.
Also, our regional governor decided we need a curfew, so no circulation between 11 pm and 5 am – and so our plans for a last dinner at Casablanca’s with our friends fizzed.

BUT, despite all that’s been going on, I was still able to catch a movie, and the good news is, you can watch it too, on Youtube.
Here is the trailer…

I watched it at lunch break, and it was a beautiful – if sometimes dramatic – experience.

More things tomorrow.
Now I’m off to dinner, and then to polishing my dice…

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Take me to Barsoom

It’s been a tough time, it still is, and there is no light yet at the end of the tunnel. It happens, and we can only play with the hand that was dealt to us.
And yet…

Mars is in opposition – it’s close to Earth, and facing the sun.
It’s burning bright red in the night sky, to remind us why it was associated with war and violence.
And tonight Mars is at its brightest.

I was in the courtyard, a while ago.
The sky is cloudy, over Astigianistan, and there’s a cold wind.
Nobody walks the streets of the village where I live, the cats are huddled somewhere and there’s a dog barking, desperately, in the distance.
But still, through the breaks in the clouds that chase each other over our heads, I saw Mars.

And you might ask…
Did I hold my arms up, like heeding a distant call, and felt like I was being swept by a strong wind and transported across the vast of night, to ancient Barsoom, just as John Carter and Ulysses Paxton before me?

Yes I did.
But it was just a moment.
If the going is tough, it is also true I’ll have to face the music here where I stand.

And yet, wouldn’t it have been good?

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I hope the cat did it…

There’s this photo a mate sent me, posted on some social or other by a Good Writer (and no, I don’t know who) somewhere here in Italy.
And no, I will not post the photo.
But to give you an idea, we see a desktop, with a flat screen, a sleeping cat and a keyboard. There’s an open notebook by the side of the keyboard, filled with scrawled notes (very neat) and a pile of books. Six books. On the screen, what I think is Microsoft Word, with two pages of manuscript side-by-side.

Yes, you know that sort of photo. Maybe it’s not even a stock photo (like the ones you’ll find in this post), but it looks and feel likes one.
It’s the classic “writer at work” photo you see posted around the web by Good Writers showing you their “WIP” – that’s “work in progress” for the uninitiated.

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Still, I live!

Today was not a good day.
First, three of my recent submission were rejected – with very nice rejection mails, but there you are.
Then, the ghostwriting client I’ve been working for in the last few months candidly told me he will pay the last instalment of my due if and when his book will be published. This means waiting three to six months – in the best hypothesis. I pointed out that this way I’ll be unable to pay my mortgage this winter, and he shrugged.
That’s my problem, he said.
He’s not wrong.

I often compare this writing business to a roller-coaster ride. In this sense, today is like the moment the wagon gets stuck upside-down, and they have to come and take you to safety using a crane.
I’m currently waiting for the crane.

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Writer’s enough

My friend Alex, that is locked up her in the same wing of the blogsphere where I am, made a video this morning about the fact that “What do you write?” is quite often a loaded question, and one whose answer must be carefully weighed. In terms of marketing – or just plain old pulling girls – the wrong answer can spell disaster.

In response to Alex’ video, another friend, Flavio, confirmed the suspicion – say you write horror, and they’ll think you’re some kind of psycho that loves blood and mangled corpses, say you write science fiction…

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