A writer’s inspiration – Italian postcards

We have all a mountain to climb. Sometimes we get to choose which mountain to challenge. Some other times we aren’t offered such a choice. But of one thing we can be sure. We have all to work our way up, no matter how high or how far the mountain top seems. This is true when we start writing a new novel. This is true when we start a new story with someone we’ve just met. It’s true of happy periods and sad ones. We can only proceed one word after the other. One tentative step at a time. Really, often even the brightest people among us move like blinds groping in a dark room. This is why it’s so important to keep in mind that the destination is only a small part of the journey, and that at every step along the way we can capture interesting snapshots.

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Is your writer’s block telling you something?

Usually you tend to consider the writer’s block like an obstacle that prevents you from putting down on page your ideas. Or even an obstacle that prevents you from having any fruitful ideas in the first place. In the first case, you can usually overcome your writer’s block in several different ways. Go for a walk. Have some coffe or a cappuccino. Do some sport, like running or cycling. Reduce distractions. Read a book. Listen to music. Try to stick to a routine. Force yourself to write anyway, no matter how shitty your writing is going to be. Cook a meal. Chop wood. All these solutions can help. And many others as well. But sometimes the dreadful writer’s block you’re experiencing is just the way your body, your subconscious, has to tell you to stop a moment.

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Linguistics – how we relate to language

It has always fascinated me how we relate to language. We use it every day, constantly and quite skillfully. Yet we know little about how it works. Think of it. We yell at the dog to get him off the sofa. We pause a moment to make sure we have actually scared the damn thing away, then we resume our chatting on the phone with our friend. Later on, when our spouse gets home we say hello to him, or her, and ask about their day. Finally, we promptly adopt motherese to speak to our three year old daughter, who has just come out of her room screaming like a banshee. Or maybe not if we are males. But still adapt our speech to our child’s ability to understand and process information. With writing pretty much the same applies. We’re able to tell a well written work from a badly…

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Rereading books – the art of change

A couple of nights ago I was sitting on the porch at my friend’s place. The sun was gone, just like the wine we had been drinking. So, with that particular predisposition of the soul that most often comes when the right amount of food and booze and stimulating company all happen together, we started chatting about books and writing. My friend isn’t a writer. And he isn’t planning on becoming one any time soon. Indeed, he is perfectly content with being a voracious reader. And of having the opportunity to chat, as often as possible, about books and the inner mechanics of a story. Now, while we decided whether or not to help ourselves with a last glass of wine–it was a damn fine Rosso di Montalcino we were enjoying–we ended up chatting about books we had reread and found dramatically different from the first time around. For me,…

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The writing life – why I love writing

If you write because you think it’s the quickest way to becoming a millionaire, think better. In particular, you’re making two basic mistakes. The make-a-living myth The first is a simple matter of numbers. To pay the bills and send their kids to school, most writers, even the moderately successful ones, have to balance their precious time between their art and an often mundane day job. Of course, this doesn’t mean there are no authors able to accumulate a fortune with their books. We have all heard of people like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and all the others. However, considering the number of all the authors, those who sell enough to live from their craft really are a minority. This is so even if we don’t take into account the gazillion aspiring writers out there in the wild who write sporadically, read erratically, and rarely invest time…

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Reasons for writing – the story behind the story

I write fiction for many different reasons. About some of them, I’m pretty sure. About some others, less so. But that’s fine. Because writers aren’t books. Writers are made of flesh and blood, and can be fickle creatures. Indeed, they’re more like a perennial work in progress, a messy first draft, than a flawless published book. And rightly so, I would say. Otherwise writers would be doomed to write the same book over and over again.

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Why details are important – not only in literature

This is an idiotic post, going around like a drunkard. Probably I didn’t pay enough attention to details when I wrote it. And now it’s too late. Some days ago a friend of mine told me about a new card he had subscribed to. It was one of those cards that reward your shopping around giving you back a usually very small percentage of the amount you spent. My friend was adamant this card was the best thing since sliced bread. And to make his point perfectly clear he told me that you even got a one percent discount on gas–of course provided you used the right coupons and gassed up your car only in the authorized gas stations. Noticing the glint of fanatism in my friend’s eyes, I kept my mouth metaphorically shut, and limited myself to make only vage, uncommittal remarks. But our conversation got me thinking.

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