East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Mummies, asteroids and fatigue

Having set straight (hopefully) the first 150 pages of the second draft of my Ghostwriting Job from Hell in two days, I have spent yesterday afternoon and this morning writing a learned article about the Tomb of Nefertari, the beautiful (and resourceful) wife of King Ramses II. One of the perks of working as a freelance is the fact that often variety allows us to forget about the chores and enjoy the truly entertaining.
That’s the nice part – doing something interesting and fun, and get paid for it.

The Nefertari piece is one of three that I pitched to an Italian magazine – the first (already written and accepted) was about the canals of Mars, and the next one will be about surrealist fashion in the ’30s and movie costumes.
Spot the common thread connecting the three pieces, and you’ll get a prize.
No, not really.
But anyway… if you’ve got an idea, just write it in the comments.

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Making time

It’s been a pretty frustrating period – while on one hand I keep getting offers and there seems to be no shortage of work to be done, on the other hand a number of things that were supposed to be pretty straightforward suddenly got really complicated.

I am still trying to nail shut a job that’s been draining up my energies for two months now, and with no end in sight, it looks like in the end it will be really hard to get paid. Granted, it is all part of the learning process, but sometimes one would rather not go through the school of hard knocks.

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Back when I was a kid there was this poster, which read “All I needed to know in my life I learned from Star Trek”, and listed a series of life lessons from the old series, the one with Captain Kirk, that at the time was the only one. At the time it was considered a nerdy thing, and nothing to be proud – the poster was an in-joke for the members of the community.

A few days back I jokingly said to a friend that is a game designer that I’ve been using Shadowrun: Attitude as a lifestyle guide to navigate these strange years, and it works just fine. We had a laugh.
But then I took my copy out and started browsing it and realized that something must have been sitting at the back of my mind when I made that joke – because Attitude does in fact work as a good starting point to survive in this moment.

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A few books for indie authors

This post is the product of a few exchanges I had over the last two weeks with a few friends and colleagues, about writing and in particular about writing as a freelance/independent/mercenary writer.

I am convinced one can learn anything from a book, and thank goodness there’s a lot of great books out there. I am listing a fer here that represent, to me, the minimum library for the independent writer. This is not of course the Word of God – it’s just my personal list of favorites.
Your mileage might vary.

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Journey with the gods: Takizawa Bakin and the writer as masterless samurai

36c970b7c39c9cba362d798ccec4baf2A few days ago I was reading a short pamphlet by a friend, that reprised, among other things, this idea we have been playing with, of indie and freelance writers being ronin, masterless samurai.
The comparison is strikingly fitting: individuals with competence and skill, bound to a code of conduct (or at least a work ethic), despised, mocked and feared because they lack a master (or an agent, or a publisher), trying to make ends meet.
A self-sufficient adventurer, a loner fighting his own wars.

The problem with these men was that they were armed and out of work.
(Nakasendo Way)

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