Tagged: writing

An Indefinite break

mario

Hello Dear Readers,

I am writing you from a kind of grey and still a bit cold London. It is the first day of Spring today yet the Sun is a bit shy in showing its full rays.

After much pondering I have taken a decision that I would like to share with you. I have decided not to write on this blog anymore.

Let me tell you that this did not came as an easy decision. Writing on this blog gave me many pleasurable moments. It was great to think at stories, writing them down and then see the conversations arising. It has been great fun!

Yet, as much as I have loved this blog, this space was born as an experiment. As every experiment I feel that this one too is ready to stop.

Two major points led me to this decision.

First of all, during my time as a blogger I have seen many types of other blogs. I had the pleasure to read personal development blogs, creative writing blogs, spiritual blogs, yoga blogs, space blogs and blogs on miniaturized worlds (no kidding!). The more I read from other blogs, the less I could pick a structure to follow for mine. You may argue that the name of this blog is the Italian for Thoughts Out of Shape, therefore I should probably not care about shape too much. Although, as much as I enjoyed this freedom of expression, I need some time to redirect my writing efforts. I need a new space and a new vision. I need to find a different shape that would allow me to grow.

Second of all, and most importantly, I feel that I need to devote some time to speak to myself. I need to do writing, plenty of it, and direct it to myself to find my voice. I want to understand in a deeper way which type of writer do I want to be. I feel like I need to experiment a lot and it is difficult to do so in a space which is there mostly for others. To fully explore my new purpose in writing I feel that I need to do some writing that is directed first to myself for a while, before coming out again to a public, for small as it may be.

I hope you understand this decision.

As you can see this decision does not mean leaving writing on the shelf. It means redirecting it, exploring from another perspective to then decide how and when to come back. It is a strong act of freedom, if you like.

It has been a great pleasure to dialogue with all of you. As I said above, I had a lot of pleasure in writing for all of you. I wish you all the Best!

And who knows.. We might see each other again some day in the future!

So long,

Niccolo’


		
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Taking the leap, a new writing experiment

baby_owl

Ok, it’s official. I am finally doing it.

It might be a bit early to share the news with you, yet I wanted to make my commitment more explicit and binding. I have finally decided to write a book!

I had an idea for a fiction story that stayed with me for quite a while. It stayed in my brain so long that it convinced me that it might be something worth writing about.

As with many things in life, I do not have too many expectations about it. I do not pretend it to lead somewhere, like money, fame or a champagne jacuzzi (although I’ll surely let you know if I end up in one!). But let me tell you one thing: the process has been great fun so far, and that’s all that matters!

As often happens with these types of projects I am completely pervaded by an enthusiasm that I can barely contain and I feel I need to write about it. Unfortunately I cannot write about the story itself (no spoilers!). What I wanted to share with you today are the sensations that starting a new writing challenge like writing a book can give.

It is so different

I did not expect how different writing a fiction can feel compared to other types of writing. In the past I have written poemsshort storiesfree thoughts and mindfulness posts. Writing all of this was really great fun. Writing a fiction feels so different. It is a two speed process. Sometimes words come quickly one after the other. Other times they come slowly and each of them requires pondering. Also the writing has to be carefully crafted into a beautiful and coherent whole which slowly brings the reader more and more into the centre of the action without spoiling surprises too early. It is like a door into somebody else’s fantastic world. A bit of time is needed for other to learn your language. Fantastic!

It is so hard

Writing for fiction is so hard. The difficulties are many. A text will need to be redrafted an incredible amount of times. All the characters need a level of depth I was not used to while writing short stories. The amount of description is also fundamental if one wants the reader to sink into the story (not literally of course!). More than else the challenge for me now is to provide the right psychological motivation to the characters. “Why would the characters acting the way they act? Why aren’t they reacting differently in the surreal situation they are living?”. These are the questions daunting me right now. Answering those questions is like undoing other people’s mental knots when I am not sure I can undo all mines. An exciting mental somersault.

It is so freeing

Writing a fiction gives such a strong sense of freedom. There is a whole world to develop, with its own funny, weird and colourful characters. Human emotions can be presented, twisted and taken to the extreme to see what would happen in an alternative universe with its own rules. It feels like being an alchemist in front of an unknown potion (will it work?). Also, the character development is much more fun then expected. Characters start with a mock voice given by the author. They then make a revolution, take their space and ending twisting the original plot of the story to their own will. Similarly to life things start in a way, then take a massive tangent to then appear again at the starting point with a completely different flavour. So alive!

This whole experiment (that’s what it is) is likely to take time. I do not mind if it will take the next five years of my extra time. I am more determined than ever to take it to completion. If only to see where it will lead me.

Some stories are worth writing about. I believe this story is one of them (at least for me).

I would be delighted to hear form you if you are also into a creative process like the one I describe above. If so let me know, I would love to hear about your creative work!

Best of luck to all of you out there who are committed to creative work! It is wort the pain!

 

[Autumn stories 2] K2, when a dream falls away

K2

On that day of the 31st of July 1954, Dr Charles Houston completely forgot who he was. For as much as he tried, he could not remember a single thing about his identity. His name, his profession, the reason why he was in the small town forty kilometers from where he lived. All of this appeared to have simply gone from his mind.

Charles was a strong men, of that he was sure. There was something in him telling him that he had what it takes to survive, although he could not be sure of where that conviction was coming from. It was perhaps for this conviction that Charles was feeling almost dizzy as he was walking around in that suburban town.

“What a strange feeling not to remember one’s own identity”, this was the thought that accompanied Charles as he was distinctively perceiving the different phases of his amnesia. At the end of the day he was still a doctor, although he had no memory of it!

At first Charles could feel a sense of astonishment, just like when one forgets what he was meant to say. To that followed a feeling of being out of place (we are not meant to forget who we are!). The last feeling was a desire to discovery, to find out the name attached to that familiar face.

It was precisely this feeling that moved Dr Houston’s next steps in his quest for his identity. He wanted to find out who he was and why he was there.

A first, natural move was to look into his own pockets. Perhaps he might have been so lucky to find an ID card, a diary, a note, or at least a clue of his name. Nothing, nothing at all. All of his pockets were as empty as his mind.

It was with a strange sense of hope that he decided to go to the local hospital to find out more about who he was, or at least a little bit of human sympathy for his condition.

The receptionist of the hospital had been particularly kind to Dr Houston. She was perhaps used to people attending the hospital in altered states. Besides, Dr Houston appeared to be a composed and elegant man in his forties. There was nothing in his appearance that could make her judge him badly for what she could tell.

The diagnoses made by the doctor who check Charles Houston spoke clearly: global amnesia due to a stressful event. An hospital would have been of little use in a case like that. What was needed was somebody who could help the patient remembering who he was. Somebody like a parent or a police man.

The engine of the police car was still warm when the young deputy found a clue to help the poor Charles to find out more about his name. A label on Charles’ tie, told the young officer that the man in front of him was an esteemed medical practitioner from Exeter, New Hampshire. What was needed was now just a short car ride to get get Dr Houston to his familiar environment.

As Charles was approaching his hometown his mind, just like the sky after a storm, appeared to becoming clear again and his memories started to surface back again. First slowly, then all in a rush, just like overflowing river.

It did not take it long for Charles to remember it all. The storm, the frost, the hunger. The desire to go back, to get down from that icy, beautiful hell. The fight for life. The hate for his German leader in his first attempt to the peak. The bereavement of his friend Art Gilkey who fell down the mountain despite the friends’ attempt to bring him down after Charles diagnosed thrombophlebitic leg. The hope to make it the next time, when the new expedition would have finally been ready to reach Pakistan.

More than else Charles remembered the fierce sense of disappointment when he heard the names of those two Italian men who took away the trophy for which Charles risked his life just the year before.

Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli. These were the names who took away Dr Houston’s life dream: to be the first one to climb the K2.

Little was left to Dr Charles Houston in that summer day. “Been there, done that”, this was the thought that was reverberating in his mind as he was finally able to recall who he was. The man who almost made it to the K2.

This story has been inspired by the BBC documentary Mountain Men: The Ghosts of K2. I encourage you to watch it if you like stories of expeditions. I believe Dr Charles Houston and his fellows have been incredibly brave in trying their second attempt to conquer the K2. They just have been the unlucky subjects to a series of unfortunate events.

Also, I have met Mario Lacedelli, the grandson of one of the two men who conquered K2, in person. A strong mountain man indeed!

 

No next

empty2

I have recently contemplated a thought: what if there was no next?

This question might seem detached, distant, or fatalist if you want, but it is not. Or at least, not in the way I mean it.

My question is a genuine investigation of how we perceive things.

In almost everything we do we search for a next. While travelling we fantasise the next city, when learning a new skill we want to see improvement, when starting a new project we to picture its completion, or perhaps we already think at the next one.

There is nothing bad in all of that. This is just the normality of a dynamic life. But, just for a second, I would like to ask what would it feel like to have no next?

What would it feel like if we knew there was no other thing to wait for, to aspire to, or to desire in any possible way? Would we feel empty? Would we feel content? Would the whole world end as we discover that we are something different from what we have thought?

I don’t think so.

To imagine that there was no next might also lead to a lot of appreciation for what has been and what is right in front of us. In a sense it can be liberating.

Having nothing to achieve might mean to have nothing to be distracted by. There would be just ourselves, our breath and the things we really value.

In the last period I have practiced letting go of expectations. It is not easy to let expectations go, for a very simple reason. We are trained to have expectations and when we feel discomfort in not having something to cling to. Yet also this is momentary.

When one expectations go there is a chance of just staying with what is in front of us. When doing the dishes there’s just the washing of dishes. When working on a job there’s just the task in front of us. When writing there’s just the stream of words in our heads. When looking in somebody’s eyes there is just the looking in the eyes.

Where would it lead to having no next? A very simple life made of thousands of beautiful moments.

This is what remains when we let the next go.

Writer = Liar (?)

writer

Writing is an exceptional art, but is it an artifice, a way of searching for truth or both?

I have a confession to make, I like to make stories sound better. It is something that my girlfriend reminds me all the time.

When something happens that is alright, but nor remarkable, I like to add some details or some pathos to it to give the story some more appeal. My intent is to make other laugh or phantasise. My girlfriend hates it and to some extent she’s probably right. But does this make me a liar?

I like to write stories. Writing stories is something great in that it allows us to create a world which is not there, which is deeper, or lighter, or darker, or shining at will.

Writing is also a way to do dig deeper into one’s own self. With writing we can create characters or events that allow us to see things differently and perhaps to see parts of ourselves that we don’t fully comprehend in an environment we can control.

In this sense writing might become a mirror which, by definition, should reflect things as they are. It should, because no mirror is perfect. Even the cleanest mirror has some micro imperfection that doesn’t allow it to reflect perfectly. At the same time that same imperfection is what makes the mirror unique.

My grandparents had and old mirror from the nineteenth century which was fantastic. Time had consumed it and only a part of it was left. The same part was also corroded and oxidized. This old mirror was not functional at all, but it was beautiful to look at. It had a character which made it unique. It was reflecting things its own way.

So, to go back to the point, are all writer liars? Yes, to some extent. Yet, even now I might be lying, so it is better if you jump to your own conclusions.

[Autumns Stories 1]: Mr Rioba’s Pub Crawl

ostaria-da-rioba

As everybody who visited Venice knows, this city is a marvellous place, where many magical things happened over the course of centuries. One of those mysterious happenings is testified by the statue of a merchant called Sior Rioba [Mr Rioba in Venetian dialect], located next to Ponte dei Mori [Bridge of the Saracens] in the borough of Cannargio in North of the old town.

The statue, a piece of white stone, one and sixty five centimetres tall, represents a local merchant who, it is told, was turned into stone by an old lady after the merchant refused to grant her a loan. The statue has always been much loved by local inhabitants. So much so that the locals decided to make him an iron nose when the original one got lost. A similar sign of love and appreciation occurred recently, when the local population gave a party to celebrate the finding of the head of the statue after it missed for three long nights.

At the time of the finding many people spoke about vandalism or robbery. Few people really know what happened on the night of the disappearance. What I am going to tell here is the whole story of Sior Rioba became a statue and of what really happened on the night when his head disappeared.

“Since young age Sior Rioba had always shown a developed business acumen. Being the oldest of three orphan brothers, Rioba had soon to put his talent into practice to ensure a livelihood. While being initially among the poorest of the families of his borough, Rioba immediately experienced a fair amount of success in his business. Following an occasion given by a batch that got lost from an Arab boat and that Rioba found, he managed to establish his first spicy business.

With the help of his two brothers his business grew and grew. It grew so much that Rioba became one of the wealthiest men of the area. He became so wealthy that he managed to start a local bank, giving credit to all the other businesses nearby.

While his initial drive for his business had been necessity, Rioba quickly recognised that what was truly leading him was the fun felt by growing his activity and by making more and more money. Despite this deep passion of him, Sior Rioba was not an evil fellow, he was in fact quite liked by his neighbours. Let’s just say that, sometimes, he had a flexible view of what was to be considered financially appropriate and what not. This was particularly true for the conditions under which he would give loans to his customers which, in his view, were only the ones who could afford his rates.

It is not well known that Venice had always been a city of magic and mystery. Despite being a touristic hub nowadays, the city has been home of many magicians, scholars of occult and especially alchemists. It is precisely an alchemist, Siora Isabella [Miss Isabella] who defined the fate of Sior Rioba.

An alchemist’s life was indeed an hard one at that time. In those days, in fact, Alchemists didn’t yet found the Sorcerer’s Stone, the magical stone able to transform metals into gold. For this reason they always struggled to find the money to pay for their expensive experiments. Siora Isabella did not reduce her struggle, after that Rioba refused her a loan.

“Te podesi sentir el peso de i to schei e che el naso te se aruginisca!” [May you feel the weight of your own money and may your nose rust!]. Those were the words that Siora Isabella used to respond to Rioba’s rejection.

Rioba did not understand the meaning of those words from the very beginning. He completely ingored that Isabella was an alchemist, had he knew he would perhaps reduced the interest rate! It was only when night came that he felt a strange noise coming from his bank. He ran out in the street and he found Isabella under a heavy column falling above her. Rioba, a stingy man when it came to money but kind when it came to help, did not think about it twice. He run towards Isabella, he rolled away the column and lifted up the heavy stone above his shoulders to give Isabella a chance to escape the inevitable fall of the house.

Isabella could not believe it, the same man who refused her the money in the morning just saved her life in the evening! Despite the surprise Isabella knew it was too late to recall the spell she casted on Rioba as he was turning into stone. Poor Rioba, who was now turning white and cold, heard from her these last words: “Che i te daga da ber almanco!” [May somebody give you a drink, at least!].

Centuries had past from that day. In those many years the statue of Rioba always brought a sense of happiness and community among the locals, perhaps as a sign of his selfless act of courage. But it took quite a while for the second spell of Siora Isabella to be finally fulfilled (again, alchemists at that time did have much of a clue on how to perform their art).

On the night of Tuesday 30th of April 2013, the night of Saint Pio V, a notorious inflexible and morally rigid Catholic saint, Sior Rioba finally started to be thirsty.

“Cio’ che se’!” [Gosh, how thirsty!] those were Rioba’s first words once he found himself awake. Rioba remembered that the weight of the whole house was relying on him, hence he had no choice but to wait for somebody to pass by to take him for a drink to the local pub. It was only at about 3 am that Marea [Tide in Venetian], a local whacky fellow, passed in front of the statue.

You could imagine the surprise on Marea’s face when he saw the statue talking to him. “Cio’, ma ti parli?” [Gosh, how come you speak?] said Marea. “Cio’! E go anca se!” [Of course! And I am very thirsty!] said Sior Rioba. [TN the word cio’ is often used in the Venetian language to indicate both stupor and assertion].

Marea always loved the sense of peace brought by Sior Rioba and he could not leave him there thirsty. Yet it was clear even to a whacky fellow that he could not take away all of his body, otherwise the whole house would have fallen. It it for this reason that Marea brought only the head of head of Sior Rioba with himself.

The only drawback of those who are a little bit crazy is that they get distracted too easily and, sometimes, they tend to forget what they carry. In this case taking the head of poor Rioba to the local pub.

As the statue was much loved by villagers the whole town was in turmoil once the morning after it saw that the head of Sior Rioba disappeared. Even the mayor, who soon after the events resigned due to a financial scandal, intervened to find the head of the beloved statue.

Despite the efforts, nobody could find the head of old statue. It took three days to poor Rioba to get out of the Hostaria and to roll towards his standing stone body before being found in Calle della Racheta [Racheta street] few days later.

Upon the finding, the villagers restored the stone head and gave a huge party in Rioba’s honour who, after this terrible event, decided not to drink no more.”

This story is reported here exactly as I’ve heard it. You might decide whether you believe it or not. I do, because I know that Venice is a magic place were anything can be real. And remember, if you will get turned into stone, decide well who to go for a drink with!

<a href=”http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g187870-d1537846-i60080084-Ostaria_Da_Rioba-Venice_Veneto.html#60080084″><img alt=”” src=”http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/03/94/bf/d4/ostaria-da-rioba.jpg”/></a><br/> The photo of Ostaria Da Rioba is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Autumn, time for stories

Autumn

Autumn is the season where most people make up quotes. ~ Winston Churchill

Ah, how good it is the feeling of Autumn taking over.

Trees turning yellow, the weather outside making you realise how much you like your sofa. What about pumpkins, chestnuts and the psycho squirrels freaking out because they realise how many nuts do they have to hide if they want to stand a chance of surviving the winter?

Autumn is really a time to relax, reflect, take time for ourselves.

This season is also a perfect moment to enjoy some nice short stories in the heat of your home.

Yet you may argue, who nowadays has time to create short stories in this busy, busy life?

Well.. Here’s the deal. I will write those stories for you absolutely for free!

Whether you’re in the mood for a spooky horror story to read together with the person you have an eye on to have a chance of getting closer, or whether you want to read about about exotic adventures you can’t really afford because you’ve just paid the subscription fee of your local gym (thank you Summer’s nights out!), then don’t worry!

Just write a short description of the type of story you want to read in the comments session below and I will write it for ya!

All the stories I will write will be of approximately 1000 to 2000 words according to inspiration. I will write one story per week (quality > quantity) and post them in this blog as part of the “Autumn Stories”series. However, as you’ve contributed to the creation of those stories, you might use them at your best discretion. You can print ’em, read ’em, post ’em in your blog. All is allowed! (mentions would be welcomed though!)

So, if you want to hear about spaceships vs aliens, gangsters, people finding beauty hidden all around them, or a gazelle falling in love with a lion, who am I to judge?

So, I hope you’ll enjoy YOUR stories and this beautiful season as well!

Can’t wait to start writing for all of you!

Have a great Autumn.

p.s.

Did you know that in Ancient Greece story-tellers, called Aedi, were taken into high consideration into their society? I bet life was though without netflix.