East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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The usual problem, once again

Yesterday I mentioned how my system is currently clogged because I am working on a top priority project that takes up all my time, and haunts me with guilt when I am not working on it. The fact that I have a funny wrist does not make things easier.
And as it usually happens, when I am overworked, stressed and busy busy busy, I keep getting great story ideas.

Only today I got two, bot fun and attractive, and both are the sort of story that sell themselves – if you know where to mail them.

The first story comes from an illustration I saw this morning, from a game that’s currenlty being Kickstarted – you find the details here.

I was discussing the image with some friends, and we came to the conclusion that, had a certain publisher set their eyes on a buxom Cthulhu-faced piratess, the history of Italian fantasy fiction would have taken a different turn, probably for the better.
And this of course screams the question – why not write a story about a buxom, Cthulhu-faced piratess?
Indeed, why not?

The other idea comes – probably – from reading a recent interview with Kim Stanley Robinson, and some of my current more-jaundiced-than-usual views on the worlds of marketing and coaching.
It would be a science fiction story, about the collapse of the capitalist system, as witnessed by an overworked secretary and a zen monk. It would be a positivist apocalypse story – one in which the end of one system actually ushers in a better one. And it would be a lot of fun to write.

But as I mentioned yesterday, I am currently clogged, and crippled.

So I just jotted down a few notes, waiting for better days.


Being silly is not enough

I was being silly, and I was discussing with some friends the wird crackpot theories of one of those guys they call “Pyramidiots” – you know, the sort that “I don’t know how or why to build a pyramid, so the aliens built the pyramids.”
Which, incidentally, it’s a perfect premise for fiction, but utter crap when presented as factual. And the author we were discussing in particular claims that the pyramids were built by Neanderthals.
They were built by Neanderthals before they developed speech.

And so we were talking and being silly, a friend said

they’d need to be great mimes to coordinate the works

and I replied

Yeah, they were led by Marcel Lescaux

And now I know I have to write a story about Marcel Lescaux, the Greatest Mime of the Neolithic.

Because that’s how ideas are born, and it goes to prove that anything, but really anything can be fodder for fiction.
Being silly might not be enough, but it certainly Helps.


Belle, Buck & Candle

There’s a thing that happens when you write, and it’s that story ideas keep coming at you, like hailstones, like bullets, like drops of rain during a monsoon. This is something non-writers often fail to see – they come to you and they tell you “You know? I’ve got a great idea for a story! Let me tell you, so you can write it and make lotsa money…”
And you think, “No, please, not again…”
Then they wink and mention their share of the profits.

Ideas are everywhere, you only need to keep your eyes and ears open.
And then you need to learn to filter them, and keep the good ones, and know which goes with what to build a story.
It takes some experience – you need to read and write a lot.

Then one day you are browsing Facebook, and you get the full package – a story that wants to be written, all there, all in one place.
Like this…

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A failed comic

I’m currently taking an online sketching course. It’s quite good, and while I’m going mighty slow, I can see a certain improvement. Nothing to write home about, but small steps away from stick figures.
My lack of graphical skills was always a problem to me – in part, because as a geologist and paleontologist, you are required to be able to sketch, in part because it crippled some of my very earliest projects.

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A Christmas Mystery

What is Christmas without a good mystery? Or even better, a ghost story… because what I have here right now does feel a lot like a ghost story, a haunting, in its own way.

I mentioned a while back how my periodic mail from Amazon with suggestions and offers had suddenly become filled with books (and DVDs!) about Mussolini and the Fascist Regime.
I am happy to report that the problem has no longer presented itself, and in the last weeks Amazon’s suggestions have been happily free of Fascist stuff, and limited to my own books (Amazon is always sure to let me know that I “might be interested” in something I actually friggin’ wrote) and books by Italian authors I detest.
But something new came up, and it is intriguing indeed.

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An idea filed away for a better time

3PD7kiawWhy the hell, I wonder, do great story ideas hit me when I’m already overworked and stressed and at the end of my rope?
And yet…

Incidentally, I normally fail to make friends when I point out that if you find yourself short of ideas, you are probably a tourist in the wonderful world of writing. If it is undeniable that a writer is one who writes – as opposed to one that talks about writing1 – then it is also true that a writer is one that

  1. is never short of ideas
  2. knows what ideas are worth pursuing and what are better filed away for later use

And both skills can be learned, and exercised through time. Leave the muse in her boudoir, to paint her nails.

Case in point… Continue reading