East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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How I spent my Workers’ Day

Working on a ghostwriting gig is great because it pays the bills, and because it gives me the opportunity to discover, explore and write stuff I would not normally have in my life – business, current affairs, other people’s lives.
It’s a great source of inspiration.
It is also a soul-killing experience, most of the time, because it means working for a boss, and a boss that usually hires a professional to do a certain job, but basically believes they know a lot more about the job at hand that the professional they have hired to do it. The result is, they do not respect the process.
Because they do not know there is a process.
They have this romantic idea of writing, that’s something that comes to you and possesses you like an ancient ghost, and they are quite sure they are the ones possessed … because it’s their book, right?
You are just a hired hand.
It can get tiresome.

But because I was thinking about these things, instead of spending my May Day weekend writing writing writing, I spent some time reading about writing process and writing structure. The fact that I was trying to put some order in my library, tackling the writing shelf, also helped.

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No rest for the wicked (or something)

April started with uncertain weather, the shift to Daylight Saving Time, showers, a number of problems and headaches, and the typical springtime weariness that makes sleeping the best apparent option.
But there is no time for that – or at least for over-sleeping.

I am currently working on the double to close the ghostwriting job I’ve spent the last six weeks working on. The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight, and it’s a good thing, because there are unexpected expenses on the horizon, connected with my mother’s grave being moved – a service that used to be free, and now that the Turin cemetery has become a for-profit company costs in the order of fifteen hundred euro minimum.
It’s great to live in an ultra-liberist society, what?

But things are moving, more or less in the right direction.
I have a lot to write – apart from the ghostwriting gig – and there might be interesting stuff coming.
Watch this space.

And because as usual when I am overworked I get ideas that I’d like to put to paper instantly, a friend just pointed out to me a connection between Hammer’s Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, and and the anime movie Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. One that it would be great to explore in a story or six.
But let’s jot down a few notes, and save that for the long sleepless nights of summer.

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Something I hated for over thirty years

Last night, chatting with my players online in a lull of our weekly game, I mentioned the fact that right now I am not able to sit down and read a good book. Or even a not-so-good book.
Fact is, I am working on the double to fulfill a number of writing contracts.
And this is good.
But at the end of the day, my brain is so spent, I can’t read anymore – I can’t focus on what’s on the page.

I am writing on the double – almost literally – a story I’ve sold to a very high profile anthology, and a story I hope to sell to another very high profile anthology. And in the meantime, I am working on a ghostwriting gig.

And here’s the rub – to write my client’s book, I need to transcribe a few hours of interviews. The sort of work that Erle Stanley Garnder handed out to an army of typists. But alas, I am no Erle Stanley Gardner, and I must do my own typing.

I always hated it.
Back when I was in university, the Petrography course was one of the great watersheds in the Geology curriculum – you followed the course, and then you failed the exam. Repeatedly.
And so you took the course again the following year. And you failed the exam again. And again.
The course was four months of lessons. Three days a week, eight hours of lecturing per day. Even while you were doing the practical on the microscope, the teacher was lecturing you.
So people started bringing recorders to class – and then, to type down the recorded lessons.
And I hated it.
Because it’s not true, what they say, that by listening to the tapes while you transcribe the text, you memorize it better.
It’s a long, boring, soul-crushing chore.
And that’s what I am doing now.

But hey, it’s a well paid job, so no complaining.
Only, I’d like to be clear-headed enough, after dinner, to enjoy a good book.
Or even a not-too-good book.

In the end, I passed that exam.
Petrography was my last exam, and I prepared it while working by night in a phone switch station – ironically, taping calls to ensure quality control.
How I did it?
I ditched the suggested book the teacher told us to use, and found a good book instead.
Bang, done. And no tapes involved.

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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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