Dec 23, 2013


There are dozens of reasons to open a blog.

A very good one is that posting is an excellent writing exercise and a unique laboratory for learning the craft.

Some writers use their blog to build an audience, some just wish to better their written communication skills through daily practice. The majority of people start a post without a clear idea of what they want to say and only afterwards choose a title. By the way, choosing the title can be more time consuming and nail biting than completing the whole post.

It's good advice to jot down a post first thing in the morning, just to warm up a bit, leaving longer and more complex tasks for later, when hopefully they will appear less scary and more approachable.

Even a short comment on a fellow writer p
ost helps to ease the way towards the blank page awaiting to be filled with the famous 1000 words we set as a daily goal.

To those (like me) who want to write a book, but lack the courage to get started, the short, contained length of a blog post can help remind us that even "War and Peace" and "The Brother Karamazov" are nothing more than a sum of chapters. 
Chapters come from paragraphs, paragraphs come from phrases, phrases come from words. Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevskyj did start from a single word to create their novels. They probably took notes on the subjects they meant to write about. They wrote short stories, a few chapters, then a first draft.

Write every day,  be free: play with vocaboulary, mix the language, turn the task into a game of reinventing yourself. Write as an eminent professor presenting literary essays, set up a bohemian artist degrading the modern society. 
If you let the words flow, you'll find it's easier than it seems.

Writing daily and freely will transform your writing into a richer and more versatile tool for you to express yourself and your stories. 
Your fantasy will take you where your mind wanders, and sure enough you'll have a better day after enjoying a dress up party with yourself. 
It's a way of loving yourself, spending time with your subconscious, knowing yourself better. 

Why not trying it right now? Write freely, be yourself, or as whoever you wish to be (with) right now!

Dec 19, 2013


Every writer has at some point experienced the sensation of standing in front of an empty page, unable to fill it with one, any, simple, single, word. The dreadful WRITER'S BLOCK.

Thinking of it, you  could probably remember being 7 or 8 years old the first time you felt that inexplicable, seizing emptiness, the vacuum brain. 
When it happens to me, I like to say: "I'VE GOT THE HOMERS":

The pure, untouched snow-white page is attractive to our imagination but the options on how to fill it are so many that fear and panic can seize and stall our creativity.

Books and movies often show a lover trying to express his feelings on a letter, starting with "My dear Madeleine" and then throwing the paper in the basket, again and again.

Or a writer starting on a new project, holding his head in his hands. 
How about a young copywriter, thinking of a new commercial, all night long?
 No words seem good enough for the big task ahead. Anger rises and self-confidence decreases with each passing minute, coffee after coffee.

The SOLUTION?  Start from something simple, a docile and not scary content.

START WRITING something, ANYTHING, as it comes, without worrying about the editing and the spelling.
There will be time for cutting, reviewing and shuffling your first draft later.
There can be no editing and proof reading without a first draft, right?

For a moment, put aside the structure and the programming and just let the words flow from the pen to the paper, let your fingers fly on the keyboard or, why not, tell your story out loud, in a voice recorder. 

The ideas and dreams you had in the last few months and diligently scribbled on some forgotten post-it or phone note is a great start for your conscience flow.

If you are anything like me, you already have a file on your computer desktop containing some thirty beginnings, first pages that you jotted down sure to be about to create the next American Novel and then never read or continued again. 

Time to dust some virtual spiderwebs... I'll follow my own advice right now.

Have a good novel!

Dec 15, 2013


inspired by "Innamoramento e amore" - 
a book by Francesco Alberoni (1998)

FALLING IN LOVE is a wonderful unique experience that can be described as a succession of eternal instants.
Every moment feels like for ever, lovers say YES to each other again and again.
When in love, future and past disappear, time exists only in the PRESENT tense.

The concept of falling in love is associated, mostly in Western cultures, with obstacles.
The lovers find pleasure in the struggling dilemma of being consumed by an impossible love. 
This idea is reflected in Western fiction, from kids fairy tales (Cinderella) to classics (Romeo&Juliet) to contemporary YA mainstream (Twilight).

LOVE WITHOUT OBSTACLES IS considered BORING, dull, uninteresting, uneventful.
Daily life is represented by disappointment. There are so many things to do, most of which are imposed by others and urgent. External pressures come first and what we really want to do is just a dream: "It would be so nice if..."
Days become years, time is tinted with opacity and mediocrity. “”Normal” life is not happiness, it's merely hanging in there.
Falling in love breaks the routine like a blinding light, a mortal danger. Falling in love sets free real desires, brings them back to life. 
Accepting the change means opening up to a different existence, without any warranty of success.
Time and space are suspended, the lovers live in a state of GRACE, abandoned to the wonderful gift of each other.
Falling in love prevails over rationality, it can not be helped. The lovers surrender every certainty and resource they possess.

After the initial, liberating period, most people start to find these feelings too unsettling. They come to miss the serene dull life. They find no peace until the extreme feelings are tamed. 
In ordinary life we invoke ecstasy, in extraordinary moments we seek tranquillity. And so an exciting parenthesis of falling in love becomes again boring, dull, love.

Except in fiction, where stories end at the "and they lived happily ever after".
As Alfred Hitchcock said: "Drama is life with the dull parts cut out of it".

Dec 11, 2013

WRITE OR DIE and other tricks

It's so easy to get distracted while attempting to write something.
Whether it is a Christmas carol, a short story for a contest, or the sequel for "War and Peace",
every writer knows how hard it is to shut the world out and focus on the task at hand.

Take me, for example. I got the idea for this post at 6.30 am.
I rushed out of bed, run to the computer, switched it on.
By the time coffe was ready I had checked gmail, hotmail, facebook, the weather, the blog stats and (sadly) my bank account.
After a few phone calls I realized it was time to meet my friend for coffee and suddenly it was lunchtime.

To be sure not to let anything distract me for the rest of the day, I checked my e-mail again, I found some good advice and writing prompts from The Write Practice  and Writer's Digest, I spent one hour on Goodreads

Browsing other writers blogs I found links to Write or Die, a fabulous software that threatens to delete all your precious sweated words if you get distracted from your writing.
It's up to you to set the number of words you wish to write and the time limit. 
Then you pick the gentle, startle or KAMIKAZE mode and off you go, writing away.

Now, I'm not a lover of paying for online software, well I'm not really a lover of PAYING in general.
I read there are free versions of Write or Die, if you know some please post the link in the comments so we can KAMIKAZE all together tomorrow and then tell us how we did.

Anyway, by the time I found Write or Die a friend came by with his wife and we had tea and some serious psycho conversations. And guess what? It was dinner time and then the phone rang... and... yes. Finally I sat down and wrote this post. It is now 11.03pm. I definitely need discipline in my life if I want to succeed. And yes. I'm not referring to the blog post only.

At this time of the day it's nice to relax, writing becomes a way to let out what we have collected during the busy hours, so we can go to bed relieved and with an empty mind. 
Resist the temptation to check facebook (again) and don't worry about spelling right now. There will be plenty of time to check Word Reference tomorrow. 

And if the lovely granny who lives across from you is half deaf and won't stop screaming to the cat (every reference is purely casual) shut her out and get into RAINYMOOD.COM (it works! Just remember: the sound of rain might decrease your bladder capacity!)

Dec 5, 2013

LITTLE BLESSINGS - inspired by "The sweetness of life" by Francoise Heritier

According to "The sweetness of life" by Francoise Heritier, an average European male is likely to reach the age of 85.
That's 31025 days to grow up and then grow old. Still, sometimes we feel as life is passing by too fast.

What do we do with our time? Let's see:

- 8 hours of sleep (my friends who recently turned moms would love to)

- 3 hours eating (including grocery shopping and loading the dishwasher. Unless you are Italian, then 4 hours will be just enough to get started on the appetizers)

-  2 hours dedicated to personal care (showering and grooming)

- 3 hours to get places, clean the house, fix the daily troubles (including kids)

- 6 hours working (at least! Unless you are writer, in which case, 2 hours is pushing it)

- 1 hour to socialize and attend meetings, share gossip, shovel coffees

This would leave 1 hour and 30 minutes a day to enjoy the little blessings of life (a bit more if you are not working).

What do I want to do in this 1 hour and 30 minutes? Not much. I would like to feel, more than do. To be aware, more than busy. 

I would like to remember to thank God (in a broad, unspecific, nonreligious way) for being alive and smart, not too pretty and, hopefully, healthy.

This prayer is quite surprising, to myself mostly. Let's see why.

Beside being alive, that is a universal wish, I'm thankful for my reasoning abilities, more than my looks and my social skills. I suppose that is because I've always enjoyed mental adventures and animated philosophical  disquisitions, therefore when I witness other people failing to express themselves in various subjects or languages I feel quite proud and blessed.

I'm also thankful of not being a beauty, so that I can enjoy the freedom that comes from not attracting excessive, undesired attention. I regard the gift of anonymity when I wish to be invisible (that is pretty often, having been born a solitary creature).

Last but not least, I've always been physically weak, with a tendency to dramatization, hypochondria and a delirious array of psychosomatic conditions. My life has been a long list of inexplicable sorrows that do not match my average, if not perfect, upbringing and life events.

So while Francoise Heritier throws herself in a (too long) list of little blessings to remind us of the sweetness of life, I let my mind wander to the significance of the original title, "Le sel de la vie" which literally translates "The salt of life". 

I like this title better, because what makes life worthy is the taste, more than the sugar coat. 

Dec 2, 2013


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