Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The strongest emotion is fear and the strongest fear is fear of change

This morning I had another brief but momentous discussion, over a social network, about the menace to our civilization, and more importantly to our livelihood as writers, that are themed calls aimed at specific groups – usually based on gender, ethnicity, age bracket or other such things.

You know, SJWs rampaging in the streets, publishers putting political correctness before quality, the usual load of rubbish. And like in that old Flashman book, “I gave them a fine piece of my mind, but at that point they had already thrown me out on the sidewalk.”
So I decided to write my thoughts here, just so that I can inflict them on you.

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Sunday afternoon

The problem, my brother always tells me, is that in this place we live, all days are absolutely equal. There’s nothing to do, no one to talk to, not even a park bench in the shade where you can go and sit, have a breath of fresh air and maybe read a book.
It’s like being in the damn Devil’s Island. But with vineyards.

Which means I spent most of the day doing research for my next story, and trying to get the selfsame story started… which I did. Three times.
None of those beginnings was any good, but I have the chain of events quite clear in my mind, and now I’m going to put down an outline.
Then I’ll sleep over it, and tomorrow I will start and hopefully finish the first draft, and have the finished work by the end of the month, barring accidents.
This is a fun project, and I really hope to be able to place the story in the market I have in my sights.

Then August will be here, and we’ll see what that brings.
A huge project I was supposed to work on in August shifted to September, so I might be able to finally nail shut the boxes of a couple of stories I have here idling. And maybe start a new pet project of mine – this time, a collaboration.
We’ll see.

Sometimes it’s good to be on the Devil’s Island.


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Sleeping patterns and other stuff

You may have notice a sudden increase of video posts on this blog – and a few shorter posts. Fact is, while the lockdown’s been lifted in my country, I am still in my old house, in my old village, doing my old things. I used to say that the lockdown had not changed my daily routines… well, the lifting of the lockdown did not change them either.

The only thing that’s changed is my sleep patterns – after six weeks of solid insomnia, now I have developed the vitality and spark of a dormouse: I’d spend 16 hours a day sleeping.
Bummer.

This new scrambling on my daily rhythms is starting to get annoying.

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Greetings from Krasnoyarsk

And so it’s finally done, and delivered to my Patrons – Guillotine Wind, the first Pandora story, was one of the hardest nuts to crack in my multifarious writing career. But it also features – if I do say so myself – some of my best writing.
And it’s a first in a series!
And it will go on to be part of the Seven Lives Project, and so it will benefit a bunch of stray cats. The cats will dismiss the whole thing like something due to them by divine right, but who knows, some people might like the stories.

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Useful lessons, and where to find them

Yesterday I posted an article for my Patrons, in which I tangentially compared this writing business to being an adventurer.
And I know, it’s a romantic notion, it’s me telling stories about myself to paint a veneer of glamour over the tight budget and the overdue bills, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it: writing for a living is like setting off on a long journey to find the ancient ruins of the Lost City, or crossing an ocean on a sailing ship.

Having recently discovered the works of Alastair Humphreys, I’ve been reading Ten Lessons from the Road, a motivational handbook based on Humphreys experiences during his four years travelling around the world on a bicycle.

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Practicing the True Secret of Writing (or at least trying)

I think I already told you part of this, so bear with me if I repeat myself.
I started dabbling with Zen in high school: our teacher was convinced the Ministry-approved curriculum for History and Philosophy was limited and incomplete, and so he assigned us to write essays on subjects that were not part of the program. I already had a passion for the east, and so I chose to do a paper on Zen philosophy.
My teacher provided a few titles, and then I discovered Thomas Hoover’s Zen Culture, and I was thoroughly fascinated. Incidentally, Hoover’s book can be downloaded for free – together with many of his other fine fiction and non-fiction books – from the author’s web page.
My essay got top marks, my schoolmates concluded I was even more of a crackpot and a geek than I appeared to be, and I started what was to be an on-off interest for the rest of my life.

The crackpot part is significant – there was another thing I did, back in high school, that marked me as a weirdo. I wrote stories.
They were very poor stories, mostly fantasy and science fiction, hammered out on my mother’s Olivetti typewriter, but I liked it as much as I liked reading. Possibly more: because I’d be able to write stories I did not find around, and I would have loved to read.
It was a start.
My schoolmates looked at me and shook their heads.
Not all of them – a few were quite supportive – and one of them even said “You’ll end up being a real writer.”
I wished I had his faith in my skills.

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