A sideways appraisal

Et Cetera

An attempt to look closely at one’s attempts paradoxically nudges one into a distance from the work itself — a sideways appraisal.
(Annabel Nicolson, 1975)

I’d love to say that I’ve spent all this time since my last update doing extraordinary things, busying myself with exciting developments in my career as a translator, writer, tech pundit, whatever. The truth is much more mundane.

First, there were holidays. I went to Italy in August with my wife to spend the month at my parents’. My wife had to study for an examination she wants to take to advance in her job; I needed rest and a good detachment from the routine. So days passed harmlessly, most of them uneventfully, and of course too quickly.

Then, September. I have been under siege. A high tide of work, translating things I have no real interest in, thus making the impact even worse.

During all this time I’ve been thinking and trying to retain as many creative mental notes as I could. My main frustration — guess what — is my writing. It’s not exactly what you’d call writer’s block. It’s more a writer’s leave of absence. My novel is literally taking shape in my mind: I see entire scenes of many yet-to-be-written chapters unfold in my head when I close my eyes. Like watching a fantastic movie you’re desperately trying to remember to describe it later in detail. I see my characters, they’re alive, they move, they act, I see the places they’re in, the clothes they’re wearing, how they smell, what they had to drink yesterday. Then, when the day is done and I have, like, fifteen minutes to take my paper notebook out and see how dreadfully behind I’m falling — well, it’s depressing.

And a constant feeling is nagging me — that when I finally have the time to sit and write all the scenes I’ve been watching behind my closed eyes, or even during brief daydreaming sessions, it’ll be too late. Too late for what, I don’t know. But, you know how feelings are. They often nibble at irrationality.

Online I’ve mostly been elsewhere. My Italian Mac-oriented tech blog is having a bit of a success (having an average of 250 visits per day, well, it’s success to me) and I try to take care of it too. I’ve also kept an eye on the so-called “social networks” that seem to be so popular today, but I really don’t see the point in most of them. I think LinkedIn is a good idea and can be useful work-wise. Flickr is nice and I like to post photos there and give and receive feedback, plus there are some film cameras-related discussion groups with experienced and helpful people, so despite the idiotic idea of adding videos, Flickr is OK. Facebook I don’t get. At Facebook they think they’re smart with the idea that you have to sign up even to just see someone’s profile, and I’ve been even invited by friends who are already there: I set up a Facebook profile where I can post my pictures, videos and events and I want to add you as a friend so you can see it. First, you need to join Facebook! Once you join, you can also create your own profile. — isn’t that precious? Well, it doesn’t work with me. Actually, it’s the best tactic to keep me away from something.

I am on Twitter, and I’m trying to see the cool factor many people see in it. It’s not a bad idea, per se, but sometimes I wonder if this is really being in a “social network”. Some people I follow, mostly tech pundits and developers who keep authoritative blogs about Macs, design, and technology in general, really need a good dose of humility. As I ‘tweeted’ once, Only because your blog is widely recognised and you have 2000+ followers on Twitter, you’re not a VIP. Don’t act like one. I was taking a gander at this Macworld article, when I stumbled on these words, by Claudia Caporal, an ‘urban etiquette and lifestyle consultant in Miami’: Behavior that might be considered rude in person isn’t necessarily rude online. I’ll have to disagree with that. If on Twitter I send some appreciative feedback because someone has written something interesting, useful, or just brilliant, and my message — either public or private — is a bit more specific than just a “Hey, that was great. Keep up the good work”, I expect to receive an answer. Not because I’m an attention-seeker or because I want to be noticed (hell, I’m not a teenager anymore) or followed by Special Pundit or Smart Guy. I expect to receive an answer, even just a quick acknowledgement, simply out of good manners and respect. I took the time to write you something, and you don’t even want to waste five seconds to shoot a couple of words back? It’s because you poor thing are constantly harrassed by the 3,000+ followers you have on Twitter and can’t possibly write back to anybody? Give me a break. You don’t want to be bothered? Lock your updates and have people ask you permission to follow you, then.

Oh well, I’m making it look such a big deal. It isn’t, really. But it’s just a small example of how these supposedly “social” networks at times end up showing only how dysfunctional people are.

The Author

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!


  1. Hello,
    Thanks for adding me as a contact on Flickr; I’m glad I found your blog! It’s almost midnight here in Sweden and I have to get up unusually early, so I’ll have to check back later.

    I am concerned about your novel! It sounds to me like you need to write. Is there no way you can make space for it, take some time off..?

    I don’t know if you have already visited my site http://www.afiori.com? I am just starting my own business, partly as an artist / designer / photographer and writer but I am also going to do some work as a translator, proofreader etc. I have a Master’s Degree with a major in English Literature and a minor in Swedish, World Literature, Art History and Visual Literacy but I want to steer away from the academic world. I worked as a teacher for a few years but I HAVE TO do what I truly love. Now I find that as soon as I take one step in that direction, things happen almost magically to help me along.

    Anyhow, I digress, check out afiori.com if you like :)

  2. Riccardo, I applaude the concepts reassumed in the last sentences of this post.

    A clever, and worthy, way to use Twitter is one that’s more aware of it’s influence on the personal sphere of the user and how a simple “declaration” can be of use to others.

    Personally i do not use it wisely, overall I preferred what was going on Jaiku … but the critical mass of my contacts was on twitter so I came back and sometimes I feel drowning in a too much noisy IRC chatroom .…

    And the time for that is gone long ago .…

    Thanks for posting this out, anyway and see ya soon elsewhere !

Comments are closed.