East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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A forced vacation

Somebody said once that writers never take time off – you’re in the queue at the supermarket, and you’re mentally working on something… ruminating a plot point, stealing a snippet of eavesdropped conversation for recycling in your work in progress, considering what chances are for your next submission.
A vacation – that in my case might mean, sitting in the shade in my courtyard, with a bowl of ice cream and a good book – is not different – that good book I’d be reading? It’s still part of the learning process, still a source of ideas, or a sample of someone’s writing I admire, and I’d like to be able to emulate.
When you make a living writing, your brain never lets up.

And yet…

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I should be writing

Today it was a strange day.
It started early this morning, as I delivered the first draft of a 100.000-words novel I wrote as a ghostwriter.
Then I was contacted by a perspective client for a translation – “everybody tells me your translations are terrible, but depending on your price I might give you the job.”
And goodness knows I need the money – summer is always a hard time, and coming just after the lockdown, it is twice so – but there is a limit; my dignity will not pay the mortgage, but neither will accepting this sort of blackmail.

Then I submitted two flash fictions to two different magazines – which brings the total number of submission this year to 27. Not bad. I do not have many hopes for the two flash fictions, but well, if you don’t mail them they won’t reject them, but they can’t buy them either.

And finally, I did an interview on Facebook – on the page of the popular Italian lit blog Liberi di Scrivere, I took all comers, and answered their questions. It was a fun way to spend one hour – and I hope my interviewers were as pleased as I was.
As soon as the interview is out, I’ll ask permission to translate it, and post it here.

And now here I am, doing a bit of research for a short folk horror story I’d love to write and submit before the weekend.

Thank goodness I still find writing an endless source of fun.


Funny, exciting and weird

I’ve been told I should do a series of posts about the funny and exciting and weird everyday life of a full-time writer.
Maybe not even posts, because nobody bothers with reading a blog these days, but maybe find a cartoonist and start a daily strip about the funny and exciting and weird everyday life of a full-time writer.


And admittedly it would be fun. Continue reading


Tools of the freelance writer: spaghetti

I was telling my brother this morning that noodle days are back again.
With summer, work dries up – more time to write my stories, but a lot less translation gigs and articles, that are still the backbone of my meager income.
So, we cut expenses – and that means going back to that long-time staple of writing life: spaghetti.


Cheap, quickly prepared, and with a wide variety of possible seasonings, traditionally a freelance writer can live indefinitely on a serving of spaghetti per day.
And believe it or not is cheaper, healthier and more fun than burgers or chicken nuggets or deep-freezed microwave pizza.
It’s the sort of cooking that does not require a degree, won’t take up too much time – about 15 minutes tops – and yet it requires a modicum of discipline. And discipline for writers is important. Also, it gives you extra swank points when you are cooking for your friends, and it’s a great conversation item.

So, as a tool for my fellow writers, game creators and freelancers, here’s some quick and easy spaghetti wisdom to help you through those dry spells.
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An unwritten rule of writing… well, it works for me, at least, is that in the moment you see deadlines looming massively on the horizon, and you have lots of stuff to write and deliver…

a . a number of other projects suddenly catch your interest
b . you get a ton of great ideas worth developing
c . you get buried in great books to read

As I said, I don’t know if it’s only me, but the problem seems to be widespread. Continue reading

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The reformed artist

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live” ― Henry David Thoreau

walkingrainNow that’s hard.
Because you know, it sometimes feels wrong, sitting in a room writing when we could be out there doing something else.
Like, I love walking in the rain – so sue me.
And yet, sitting in my room while the storm rages outside, and me all warm and cozy, with my cup of tea and biscuits, writing on my old keyboard…
In the end it’s a matter of choices.

Reading feels the same – why am I sitting here and reading this (excellent, by the way) book, when I could be writing my own stuff, or take a walk under the rain (or anything else, really)? Continue reading