Writers groups

After a few sunny days it’s again typical Irish weather, but I like it as it is, so although I appreciated the summer like week, I feel more comfortable with the Gothic sky on my head, mainly because it inspires me the most of the time.

The reason why I’m writing this post still comes from my disastrous weekend spent in Listowel.

Don’t you worry, this should be the last rant post (I’ll probably post a couple of writing exercises I’d done during those hours, just because I like the outcome!) but I had to write it because I’m still trying to perfect the action to take and doing something to improve, or like someone said prove her wrong.

That’s why I’m thinking about an advice I was given.

Yesterday I spent a very nice day with Maya and my friend Christina. I can’t thank her enough for the constant support to me, to my writing and my creasy thoughts. She agreed on the positive feedbacks I received from you guys, so this encouraged me once again to keep going.

She’s been following me since I tried my first English writing, Arilla, something that was supposed to be about a girl travelling through the under the sea kingdom and ended up looking like a display of all the absurd things she could eat during her travel making her look like a barrel on legs!

Well, it was my first experiment in English and I only had tried to write a book in Italian about pirates before that, so…

But anyway, I was going to say something else.

One of the suggestions I received from the people that were at the workshop with me was to have a look at writers groups as they might help with constructive feedbacks.

This lady who gave me the suggestion said that back in Cork she found a group of fantasy writers. They were just four, but they were committed, honest to each other and it was a very good support.

I tried to have a look at the writers group on the area I live in but there isn’t much. Plus, I think that it would be difficult to find a specific YA fantasy writers group.

So I thought that maybe doing it on line would be a great solution.

But how should I do that?

So here is my invite and question:

If I wanted to form an on line writers group how should I do it?  Where should I start? Does anybody know about a good one? Does anybody want to volunteer to start one anew?

I’d highly appreciated your time and help!

Thanks in advance!

 

The feedback

 

As I promised, I’m going to tell you in this post what my feedback was on the pages I posted yesterday.

Nobody expressed an opinion about that, although the likes encouraged me!

So I’d love you to give your sincere opinion about what you’ve read. And if you didn’t please, can you do me the favour of doing it? At least the first part? I’m very feedback needy at the moment!

Thanks so much for your time!

Returning to Siobhán’s feedback, she said, first of all, before even I sat on the chair in front of her “You should write in Italian!”

When I sat down she kept saying that no editor, and she said she knows as she’s pretty standard editor herself, would pick me because there would be too much work to do.

She said that some of the sentences seemed taken from Google translator. (I think in English, I swear, but maybe some sentences come out Italian structured unconsciously)

That if I blog in English was ok because blogging is informal speech so different from a book.

Then, like this wasn’t enough, she said that the beginning is intriguing but too long.

Plus that I do description like a guide book and throw them all together into the text.

Sabrina is too stereotyped and not believable and seems taken from the TV. Well actually Sabrina was born as fusion of the other two best friends of mine…and they behave this way for real!

At this stage my eyes were already watering, but I managed to keep talking and taking notes because I didn’t want to behave like a stupid ten years old!

When we were at the coffee break I still had the knot in my throat but I thought that if she told me this kind of things maybe she would be able to help me to sort them out. At the question to what I should do to improve, she said to read. She said she suspected I did it already, which is true, but also that she doesn’t know what else.

I was very sad; a part of me was struggling to keep going and part of me didn’t want to give up.

I don’t want you to take this in the wrong way, but still I didn’t like this feedback. You might say that nobody likes negative feedbacks or rejections, but I felt that this one wasn’t totally fair and put in doubt all the work I’ve been doing for the past six years (all in English by the way!)

She basically destroyed me without giving me a constructive tip or an encouragement or something like that.

I mean, I knew already she would have issue with my language, I’m not stupid!

Also Jane, another teacher, told me that I would have to work very hard on that, but she added that my characters and my suspense building and my dialogue were good.

I don’t want to say that if someone doesn’t find anything positive, she or he should say something nice just to open their mouths, but still the way she did, it seemed a bit offensive and a bit racist as well at some extent.

I mean, saying something like the language is the most important thing for me, and it’s something you pick since the beginning and it is something that cannot be acquired with the time, seemed a bit extreme.

According to this, Joseph Conrad wouldn’t be supposed to be among the classics of the English literature, but despite I hate his way of writing, he is.

Also, said without any highlights, it seemed to say “A part from the language you should stop altogether!”

Don’t ask me again why I don’t write in Italian. I don’t want to, because I want to be published.

I said already that I would love to be published in the old fashioned way.

I respect, deeply respect people who self-publish, but until I’ll have the guy in front of me I’ll never understand if I’m worth it or not.

In Italy is very easy to publish, more or less, you either pay or you know someone. I don’t know anybody, and even if I did I wouldn’t use them for the same reason I wrote you above, and I don’t want to pay because in this way I’ll never know if I’m worth it.

I suspect it’s connected again, yes once again, with my inexistent self-confidence and constant research of approval.

Now my question for you is: what do you think about my piece?  Do you agree with Siobhán? Should I stop writing in English? Should I stop writing all together? Isn’t there any positive aspect?

I’m aware that Etruscan Pledge was my first urban fantasy and I was writing on a theme unknown for me before and most of all I was way too involved in the attempt to vent my feelings, but still I’d love to know your opinion!

 

Etruscan pledge, part 2

***

“Fedora, are you even aware why I’m here?” Sabrina asked pushing the cup of coffee in front of me.

I wrapped automatically my hand around the hot mug and answered “Not sure” in a breathe. My voice was feeble and my eyes were steady on the table. I saw Sabrina preparing some biscuits on ta plate. It was like everything was happening in a dream, a dream so real that you can mix up with the reality.

“Not sure. Not sure she said” letting her hands fall on her tights. She slid the chair from under the table and adjusted it to sit down in front of me and continued “That’s a real good start!”

I didn’t answer and I didn’t even look at her.

Then she stood up again, came close to me and hit my face as hard as she could with the palm of her hand.

“I love you Fedora, very much” she said, her voice trembling “But you have to react. I’m here!”

I didn’t answer; my head was empty, completely blank.

I forced myself up using the table as support and without saying a word I took the door and descended the steps.

I heard Sabrina call me but her voice was distant, unreal…was I still dreaming?

Because it couldn’t be anything else than a dream.

I put my hand on the door and I exited in the street.

It didn’t happen.

The air still smelled of freshly fallen rain.

Not to him, not to them, not to me.

It was dark but I didn’t fully realize it.

No…just no.

***

Wondering for the tiny stone street I felt alone, I felt cold although in a summer night.  A part of my brain was starting to awaken and found that the wet stones made the environment spooky even.

All the lights were off. It could have been a ghost town, but then I walked by the bakery and thorough the shutter I saw a feeble yellow orange light.

I stopped behind there staring at the metal and without realizing it I went so close that I could feel the cold on my forehead. Filling the nostrils with the smell only outside a bakery you can smell, my stomach started to growl.

I’d become aware that I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch the day before…but then an invisible fist squeezed my stomach forcing me to think about the first time I ate something with Damiano, it was outside a bakery like this one, and I felt only a great urge to vomit.

I couldn’t detach myself from the cold metal, the only thing that kept me a bit more conscious. I started crying, this time silently. My sight was so blurred that the light coming from the gaps was like a dream.

It couldn’t be true. Not now. Not so suddenly.

It couldn’t be true. There must be a mistake. And I didn’t even say him goodbye.

And I didn’t even talk to him recently.

It’s just not fair…so unjust.

“Who’s there?” a voice asked from inside.

I didn’t answer. Something was blocked again inside my head, making me feeling confused.

I heard some noise from inside, and suddenly I felt two hands taking me for the shoulders and bringing me away.

“What the hell are you doing?”

It was Sabrina again, she found me there.

“You have to pull yourself together at once, Fedora. I know how you feel but there is a thing you should do”

I felt annoyed. She was my best friend and I knew, or at least a part of me somewhere knew that she wanted to help but the rest of my soul was hurt to death and I decided to keep walking without talking.

Without even knowing what I was doing I reached the theatre ruins again and I sat on the top step.

Sabrina stared at me, I felt her eyes on my shoulders but I didn’t turn.

“Very well” she said.

I heard her footsteps growing fainter. She was going away. I felt sorry and I didn’t care at the same time. I tried to relax. I inhaled a big breathe of chilly morning air and I put my face on my knees and I tried to think.

After what I thought very long I smelled coffee. I slightly turned my head and I opened my eyes. There was a cup beside me and attached to the cup a hand.

“Ok, let’s try again” Sabrina said.

She brought me breakfast. I ate everything mechanically and then I fell sideways on her shoulder.

She hugged me and said “I know that it is hard but we have to do something first thing today”

“Such as?”

“Such as going to the funeral. It will be in Lucca”

“How do you know that?”

I knew that it must have been hard for her trying to get information. They knew each other because they knew me. They talked maybe once but never met. I was aware that she was doing for me, but most of all because among us all, for some reason a big and strong bound was grown.

“It was a good piece of work, but eventually someone answered” she said. She smiled tentatively and then changed the subject.

“Look over there, it’s down!”

It was a beautiful sight. The gold and pink sky with sporadic clouds was falling on the hills of Tuscany afar and the light was bathing little by little the area, touching with her warmth first the street in front of us where the first cars were running around the walls and then the ruins and then the thermal area.

I could swear that the round portion wasn’t covered by grass anymore.

“What?” I sighed.

I rushed on my feet and I ran on the ruin, down the small slope until breathless I reached the orchestra portion, and then the foyer area and then the thermal bath area.

I heard after me Sabrina’s steps. She stopped abruptly after me just before hitting my back.

“What the hell is wrong with you? Why did you run here?” she asked

“I thought I saw something weird” I said.

I was standing exactly on what was supposed to be the hole I saw from above the steps but my feet were touching the ground and tender grass was moving blown by the gentle morning breeze.

“No, you’re behaving just too weirdly!” Sabrina said.

She took my hand and then pulled me away, back on the slope and then back to the small apartment.

I remained standing at the entrance after she closed the door and I saw her sitting on the sofa.

“Lucca is not far from here” she explained “We can have a few hours of sleep and then we’ll go, OK?”

I nodded in agreement but I didn’t move from there, I went to the stereo and then I plugged in the headphones and I turned on the CD I was listening the night before. I wanted to listen to their music once again.

The drum sound was so loud; it filled my heart with sadness and melancholy.

***

“Have you slept at all?” Sabrina said, after pulling off my head the headphones.

“I don’t think so” I said like the thing wasn’t concerning me at all.

“Ok, you go and have a shower, I’ve already had mine. As soon as you’re ready we can go.”

I nodded again and automatically I reached the bathroom and I showered like a very obedient child.

The water was wetting my shoulder, but I couldn’t feel the temperature. The only sensation I had was the unusual heaviness of the drops. I put my forehead on the folded forearms to touch the wall and I wept again. I felt like an old relic of a ghost ship lingering near the bay where the old strong brigantine once shipwrecked.

Not really conscious of what I was doing or how I did it at all I managed to get into the car and Sabrina drove me. She got the motorway in Pisa and then she drove till we reached Lucca.

I’ve always liked Lucca, it’s full of memories, I remember I thought and then the reason why we were there was clear once again and my heart sank again a notch.

The funeral was supposed to be basically a walking on the walls and then the body would be shown inside the dungeon inside the west part of the wall itself. Then he would be cremated and the urn would be put inside the wall itself.

I don’t know what would be about the others. I met them once and I felt very sorry for them too as I liked every member of the band very much. What I thought, and I still think is that, it was a pity that they would be divided after death, they were so close.

I’m aware that each and every one of them was part of his family but still I learned to love them as they were one so it was weird for me. However, only Damiano was the one I’ve always considered my real brother.

I was just curious to know why such a young person decided about his funeral in every detail. Why? He never told me that.

Concentrating on this I realized that he never told me much and often I felt bad as I wasn’t trustworthy enough. I never knew why he kept me away from the darkest and saddest parts of his soul. I’ll never know this I suppose.

What I can say, right now, after months are passed, is that, in these kind of situations, the easiest thing to think about are the worst episode of your relationship with the deceased. The reason still eludes me. I contented telling me that it’s maybe self-defence, something that your mind does to avoid the collapse. Still believe me or not, I have no clue. I’m not here to give solutions; I’m just here to tell you the events.

I looked around me. As it’s normal to aspect Lucca during the summer is full of people. Mainly tourists, from all over the world.

It’s only when you pass through the small archway to climb up the wall that you enter the normal life of the city. If you look around, all you can see are just ruins of medieval defensive walls and trees. In my case, being summer, the foliage was so green that it was a pleasure to be covered by their shadow. Nonetheless in my head it was like I could see them in autumn, with those warm colours, when the leaves are golden and orange shades and are falling down lifeless. I could almost feel the cracking of the dead leaves under my feet.

Looking down the wall instead all around there’s just a vast stretch of grass with a small stream and what is the remain of a moth.

I thought that my pain was well protected.

***

Before all this would happen, before even I was able to think that something like that would be possible, I already decided to work on myself, on my fears, on my weaknesses. One of this had always been the fear of death which had always lingered in my thoughts like a sick bunch of cells rioting in the brain of such a young person.

Part of the fear would be the discover of the existence of the death itself, which inevitably comes in the form of a corpse.

As unfortunately this might happen several times in your lifetime, you should be prepared.

But I’d always been too young or better too coward to face it.

This time I knew it was different and I told myself I would regret for the rest of my life if I didn’t go in there.

I suppose that my greatest fear was not be able to watch a body of someone I loved very much lying lifeless in a coffin.

I was petrified. I remained on the threshold for a while watching the coffin. I could just see the point of his nose from there.

I was trapped in a fight inside my head: part of my brain would complete the figure drawing the rest of the traits I knew too well, the other side of it would tell me I would see someone else once closer.

Sabrina pushed my back to make me move but my legs were glued on that spot with fear.

She tried once more and then decided to go on alone. I don’t know exactly how long I remained there for, I was barely aware of the people passing, by brushing my clothes and lightly elbowing me on the way.

Eventually the battle inside my head was won and the strength of the dread regret made my legs move and I went over.

It was him lying in there. He like I’ve always known him. Like he was laughing at us all.

My eyes filled of tears. I felt the huge necessity of being sick. I couldn’t move again.

The only thing I could think was “Now he’s going to rise again. He’s going to wake up and tell us all it was a joke”

The fear that it would happen was mounting and becoming stronger and stronger every minute I was in there.

Then I fixed my eyes on his chest and it wasn’t moving. Not anymore.

***

It’s incredible how silly you can become in these kinds of situations.

I remember that my first thought was to call Damiano to tell him I was feeling sad. I was feeling desperate.

But then my eyes fixed the figure lying in front of me.

His long brown hair, his pointed chin and his cheeky smile. He was smiling at us all.

I felt a bit of rage for a split second and then the urge to laugh.

I felt guilty for that and I cried again.

The image of his favourite drumsticks clutched by his motionless hands was blurred. So it was his dear face.

I wanted so much to talk to him right now and to feel him hugging me.

Some of the people present there recognized me and tried, I’m sure, to console me as they knew how much we were close.

“It’s the fate” they said.

“It’s the life” they said.

“It’s the God’s will” they said.

Oh well this God of them must have a nasty and creepy sense of humour I thought.

But maybe the most annoying kind of comment was “The positive side of it was that it was quick and it didn’t suffer” or “The good side of the event was that he spent the last months at home with his parents”

What? I just wonder what the hell is wrong with the head of some people. The good side of it? The positive side of it?

Oh please…please…don’t give such a pitiful show of yourselves. Please! There is nothing positive in death. There is nothing good when someone whom you love dies. Never.

Regardless the age it’s painful and there is nothing good or positive in that.

And then that awful moment came. The walk around the walls.

I’ve always loved that ancient bastion.

How many walks we did chatting about everything…and now it won’t be possible anymore. But I couldn’t accept it.

I spent the rest of the funeral walking automatically supported by Sabrina.

I wasn’t sure even what I was doing or how my body moved at all.

I felt confused and lost.

***

It was time to go back home.

Sabrina offered to bring me back instead to make me get the train by myself.

I saw the beautiful Tuscany countryside sweeping by like in a dream and finally my walls. The other walls.

“Now I severely forbid you to do anything stupid or based on the rush of the feelings” Sabrina said pointing her index to my nose. I felt four years old “The only things you’re allowed to do are eating tons of ice-cream and at need a whole pizza!”

I nodded trying a weak smile and I got out of the care.

After closing the door I turned back and I put my head inside the window again

“Thanks for everything”

“Don’t mention it!” she said and then turning the engine on she added “You know I’m going to check on you, don’t you?”

“I love you” I just told her and then I pulled back my hands from the car door.

She blew me a kiss and then went away.

***

The day after the funeral, and the one after that, and the one again after, you think that you can start to realize what happened. You might think that you’ll figure out what happened.

But to be honest with you, if it ever happens either I’m too stupid to even catch the moment or it hasn’t happened yet…and a lot of time passed by.

I tried to find an explanation but I’ve always ended up with the same solution. It might be the chock of something happened suddenly or the option of being stupid is still available and you can use it and blame me.

Do you know what? For once in my life I don’t care.

***

I’ve always loved ancient cultures and I can freely admit that my interest in history, art, architecture and any form of art ends with the last years of 1800.

However, the more a piece of art is ancient the better.

So you can imagine how inspiring I would find a medieval town with such old roots aging back at the Etruscans. Such a communion of cultures is Volterra.

That’s probably the reason why I went back there in first place.

But in those days, after the accident happened, the only thing I would think about was Damiano. If only would be possible to talk with him once more. That’s what I kept thinking every single minute of the day.

No, you don’t worry I didn’t attempt a séance.

I, in fact, did much worse.

How do they say? Don’t try this at home.

Desperation can make you do silly things. Looking back on what I’ve done I can’t say I’m proud, but going back it’s highly probable I would do it again.

I remember that I spent a lot of time to wonder into park Fiumi.

Now the little prison cells behind the walls looked almost inviting. Why? I have no idea, but I remember that I felt very strong the need of being isolated when I was with people and then in need of company when I was alone.

Prison seemed the best option and the best place to be.

***

In the desperate attempt to feel better I tried to concentrate on what made me feel more relaxed and more at ease. And what else than a visit to the Etruscan museum could make the trick.

I visited it when I was much younger but I couldn’t remember what I saw. You remember what it means going on a trip with school. You don’t really concentrate on what they’re showing you, simply because it isn’t cool enough.

The love for the past was so strong even then, but not desiring to concentrate enough made me forgot that strong sensation of attraction.

Now instead, all those artefacts, the love for the death, the cure that Etruscan put for their beloved deceased, shook me deeply.

Now I could understand it better, and my brain started to move.

I’ve always had an amount of fantasy that let me see what others might find impossible to see or to see what doesn’t exist but that does a good story.

Likewise this time I remember that watching the funerary urns I thought: what if I could go back in those years and talk to one of their gods and then bring Damiano back. Like the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but with a happy ending.

Ok, it was silly of me and to be honest with you even today, reading what I’m writing, I believe what I was thinking both ridiculous and impossible.

But I so desperately needed to see him again. So desperately.

Numerous are the times, even now, when I think to call him or to write an email. And I start to do that, but then I realize that it doesn’t make any sense at all.

***

Although even then I thought I was stupid in thinking something like that, I contented fidgeting with the idea.

At least at the very beginning.

If only I could find a way. Could be possible? Does a thing like that even exist?

Although I kept calling myself silly there questions become more and more insistent and pushed me to go forward.

It was like when you’re young and you play repeating spells you saw in cartoons: you know nothing can happen but a tiny part of you hopes you’re wrong.

I started to go to the library and spend days inside, to find more information about the Etruscans and their rites and civilization.

There must be something, there simply must be. That’s what I hoped for while flipping through the pages. I even stopped thinking I was silly in what I hoped and, on the other hand neither Sabrina nor someone else thought I was doing something wrong, I mean they knew I was devastated. They just thought that I was trying to ease the paying getting a few information for my next story.

And at the very beginning it was fine, I let them think so.

After a while I tried to tell Sabrina what I was really up to and she just chuckled at me and said “Yes, ok of course. When you find the solution please tell me, so I can pass the message from my mum to gran!”

But when I stopped talking and ignored her calls with an excuse or the other she decided to talk to me in another way

“Fedora really, I love you and I don’t want you to obsess yourself with something scarcely possible or real” she said trying to be reasonable.

“Sabrina I appreciate what you’re trying to do but I feel this is the right way of behaving. I think I’m sure I can do something”

“Ok, let’s do something. I’m going to see you next week, I’ve asked a few days. But please, please don’t do anything silly before that. OK?”

“I suppose! After all I’m looking for something not even possible or real!” I repeated like a five years old.

“No, I’m serious, Fedora, if this is making you feel better you keep going. But please just stick to the theory and don’t do anything stupid”

***

You might thing she was exaggerating in telling me this, but you have to know that Sabrina always believed in something supernatural. Something that actually I’ve always mocked her for, by the way.

She was just worried I might find for real something she could be afraid of. Something that could prove her right.

I’ve always mocked her all right, but I was hoping for such luck.

The library books didn’t tell much, more or less they agreed on the very same things: Etruscan were obsessed with death rituals, they took much care of their deceased and they saw the tombs like a place where a soul or a dead would literary could live for ever.

But for a strange feeling I had I kept reading and I began to convince myself that something more could be possible. I wanted to find more.

I turned to another endless source of information, the internet. I hoped that someone would be so stupid or kind, still have to decide which one, to put something more specific on the web.

I found a row of new computers on the far end of the huge library room. I began to scroll up and down the virtual pages instead of flipping the paper ones.

What for, I said to myself, this isn’t going to bring him back.

However for some reason I wasn’t really sure about that.

And I thought that starting to get more information about their deities could be a good start.

After a couple of weeks I was in the library I started to be bothered by the annoying feeling of being watched. I wasn’t sure that it depended on me feeling guilty of doing something I wasn’t supposed to do or because there was someone really watching me, but every time I turned my head to scan the room behind me I couldn’t see anybody staring at me.

There were usually a couple of university students, writing so hysterically to be for sure under exam. There was an old man reading a book. There was an old lady with a guy on his twenties, maybe giving him private lessons and there was the library lady putting back the books on the shelves.

After a few minutes break I would go back to my researching job.

It was amazing and scaring at the same time how many death or underworld gods and demons or supernatural being Etruscan possessed.

I started to spend hours, and days into the library. Sabrina was more and more worried. And my dad too began to ask what the hell I was up too.

However he was the last of my problems. I just needed to tell him it was project for my writing stuff and he decided not to enter into the details and I was happy with that.

Etruscan pledge, part 1

This is something you can’t foresee. You’ll never be able to foresee it. Sometimes you can expect it but it’s never easy to accept it.

However you put it, it’s not easy to live with, to understand. It’s impossible to do that.  But one thing is sure: when it happens, your life changes.

Forever.

There are a lot of people in this world and each and every one of them explains it in a different way. They would say it’s the God’s will, whoever their God or Deity is. Some of them would say it’s the fate or destiny or life.

I don’t have a personal explanation and to be honest I’m not even sure I want to find one right now. What I want it’s just trying to forget and to suffer, because it’s what I feel I need at this stage.

Someone would say that it’s too early to talk about that, but I believe that it’s not. It’s the right place, it’s the right time and it’s the right way.

Writing has always reached such deep layers of my heart and consciousness and plunged its beneficial balm so deep inside me; I could lose myself in thinking.

It’s such a struggle to keep going and to find a way to calm down and to think. Even sitting down on the sofa, trying to recollect my thoughts is something not easy and the most of the times I’m not even sure I want to do that because it’s too painful.

What am I talking about?

Death.

***

I remember when that I was young I spent a whole summer in Volterra, a nice small medieval town in Tuscany, high wall included.

I’ve always loved the idea of walls around a city. You feel protected and at the same time you feel like your secrets are kept safe. Also, you feel entitled to aspect that your life can proceed undisturbed.

There are many towns in Tuscany surrounded by walls but Volterra is tiny and cosy and you feel like there is no way the time could pass by while inside them. It looks like a portrait of an old crone, watching the passing days and years for us, simple humans, living a life way too short to compete with the time itself.

Nothing was more wrong. Well, I was wrong but I didn’t know yet.

I thought that in that particular moment, when my writer’s block struck the fiercer of its blows, Volterra would be the right place where to start again.

I arrived there last June and it was then that my nightmare started.

I think but, mainly, I hope I’m ready to write it down now what happened. Whether prepared or not anyway I have to or at least I owe it to myself and to Sabrina.

***

Being back in a place you liked a lot and where you felt comfortable it’s always great. Already climbing down the aircraft stair case I deeply breathed the hot and dry summer air. It was a balm after the cold rain in Dublin.

My dad was waiting for me at the airport. He still had to work one year in the bank branch there, before he could retire. I thought I was lucky to be able to use his small apartment once again for my studies.

Being back in that small and quiet town was nice and comforting. First stop was lunch in the Ombra della sera restaurant where I had my usual two servings of pasta with mushrooms, but the owner remembered it too well. It was like being back at home.

While dad was at work I’d had the time to wonder around and have a look at the small streets, at the face of the tourists running around to have a glimpse of the whole town in just a short afternoon.

I wouldn’t like that. I think this place invite you in its intimacy and it’s only when you get it you can say you understand it. Also it’s then, when you understand its secret, like I did. And sometimes these nice and sunny stone walls can hide dark and cold sides where the supernatural can lure you using what most it’s important for you, weakening what makes you human.

The areas I’ve always loved about Volterra are Park Fiumi and the the ancient ruins of the Roman theatre.

The park would make me feel immerged into the nature, in contact with the deep energy of the universe and mother Earth. Also laying on the perfumed grass it was possible to watch the great stony prison which towered on me just behind a small wall.  It’s when you look at those tiny windows that you feel free and most of all alive.

To concentrate, however, and to have a deep moment of communion with my origin, the best place to go it’d be the theatre. Silent, maybe because too big or too open to hold inside the sound of hundreds of feet wondering around. Ancient, obviously, but still there.

Still there, exactly when I needed. And there was the place where everything started. Well not really started, but for sure almost ended…for me.

***

When you live abroad, being back to your country for a while means also try to get in touch and meet with the old friends, with the people you’ve always met and always known since you were young.

That might be valid if I was back to my hometown, but I didn’t want to get too distracted. In fact, being back in the middle of almost nowhere, inside the shallow of a hilled area, the ones you want to have with you are just those friends you would call family.

Friends you couldn’t live without, but you would have to, in case the necessity arouses.

It’s just so hard.

***

I hadn’t meet Damiano more than two years before but it was love at first sight. I knew he was special and I knew he would be important for me.

He didn’t delude my expectations and he became a good friend. My best friend. My brother.

He thought me everything he knew about having dreams, following them and letting yourself being tempted and rocked by your own feelings while performing that magic which is art.

He taught me I still had in my deluded life a sparkle. The sparkle found back my dream and I started writing once more.

Whenever I go back to Italy I’m going to call him and try to meet up. The same was this time, and who better than him could help with a shiny sparkle my rusty writing?

Since I decided already I was going to spend a few months there we decided to meet after August, after the summer tour with his band, the Love Beat.

They are great….were.

***

Sometimes you feel it, but you don’t know it yet. Or you know it but your brain won’t register anyway, because it’s too painful, too ridiculous, too bad or simply because it doesn’t really belong to the human kind to foresee something like that.

After the whole day spent in the park, I went back home. Dad’s apartment was a rented small flat on the first floor of an old building. It was nice, because located inside of one of those small alleys, dark even at midday on a hot summer day.

But because I needed to see those ruins at least once a day, I decided to detour a bit and get the long way back home stopping on the top tier of sits of the theatre. I was at the very top and I could feel power inside me watching the whole site. The blood stained stones were stunning at sunset time.

It was right then that I had the feeling that something was wrong. A wave of harsh pain filled my body and anxiety poured inside my lungs, refraining me to breath properly. I sat down on the stone and touched the grass growing inside the cracks. I looked around completely disoriented to see if anybody was feeling the same.

Despite the stone was still hot after standing a whole day under the sun I was shivering. My sight was blurred, I realised I was crying and I didn’t know why, but I felt inconsolable.

I brushed my eyes and hosted back the glasses on my nose. Life around me was passing by. Tourists were keep doing pictures, nobody minded someone sitting around them, in particular if her hand where full of books and notes.

Looking around me, I let the ruins distract me a bit, until I set my eyes on the thermal area. Was it me or my sight still failing? I could swear I saw a bit of grass moving.

A rush of terror replaced the shivering and the sadness. It shook me from toes to my split ends and I ran away. Suddenly a strong wind caught me inside the alleys towards home and rain started to fall. I forgot that stupid weather forecasting.

Once closed the tiny wooden entrance door on the thunderstorm, the feeble flickering lamp lightning the grey stone stairs didn’t help my anxiety. Even the walls were made of rough stone and I found them very romantic or creepy, it depended on my mood.

It must have been the wind then I thought while climbing the small stone steps up to the apartment.

Once on the landing I opened the even smaller apartment door on the familiar environment. It didn’t help much though, because dad was back home for the weekend and I was left behind, on my request, to beat the writer’s block.

The apartment became suddenly very dark and the window left open let some of the rain in so I had to dry the floor and pick up the broken vase full of flowers that the wind knocked from the window sill.

I closed the window; I turned on the stereo with the last cd by the Heart Beat, put the frozen pizza into the oven and went into the shower. I love it hot even during the summer.

Suddenly the panicking feeling hit me again. I curled myself on the floor, the water hitting my scalp and I started to cry and then to sob uncontrollably.

I don’t know how long I was there for, but I felt it was long.

As soon as I manage to pull myself together, I turned the water off and I heard my mobile was ringing. I put the towel around my chest as fast and as clumsy as I could and I ran towards the living room.

The house was so small that it didn’t take more than three seconds

“Hello?” I said

There was no answer on the other side.

Looking at the display my fear for bad news faded. Missed call from mum.

Maybe she wanted to know if I’m getting all right. Always like that, mums, can’t shake off the feeling you’re their baby.

I thought I was going to call her after dinner. She could wait I calmed down anyway, otherwise the questioning that would follow would never end. I just knew it.

I almost lowered the telephone back on the table when it ringed again, so suddenly that I jumped and my stomach squeezed at once.

Private number appeared on the display.

“Hello?” I asked again with a mixture of surprise and fear.

“Fedora, it’s me, Sabrina”

“Oh, hi! Hi Sabrina…sorry I didn’t aspect your voice” I said slowly. There was something in her tone.

“I’m calling from home with the international call card! That’s why is private” she said. She was talking with a voice that it seemed not belonging to her. It was unreal and my anxiety rose once more.

“Sabrina, is everything ok?” I asked not sure if I really wanted to ask.

“No” she answered slowly “It’s not”

There was a moment of silence. I sat on the sofa behind me, the springs creaked. The storm outside was in crescendo and the old windows were moving nosily under the pressure of the wind.

I could feel the communication wasn’t over because I heard Sabrina breathing on the other side of the phone.

“What’s wrong?” I asked trying to sound comfortable.

“Are you in Italy?” she asked, ignoring my question.

“I am” I said.

“So it’s better you turn on the TV on the news channel” she said and then silence fell again.

I didn’t ask anything. The perfume of almost ready pizza was filling the small environment. I tuned on the TV and I searched the channel.

sure about how many victims there are, but surely it was a tragic accident. Many young people of talent died and….

“Sabrina?”

“I’m here”

“Isn’t that the place where Damiano was going to play tonight?” I asked almost casually, like the question wasn’t concerning my life whatsoever.

“Yes…” she said slowly and then added “They’ve been reading the news for a while. It didn’t happen more than two hours ago”

“But…”

“Fedora, I’m sorry. I can be there with you in a few hours. Are you at your parents’?”

“No” I said. My brain refused to work. Why was she worrying for me? Ok, it happened. I’m sure Damiano was ok and his lot as well with him. But what happened exactly?

“Ok” I said even light-hearted “Excuse me I’m going to call Damiano immediately and check if he’s ok”

“No Fedora, haven’t you just heard?” Sabrina asked me, her tone was becoming worried.

“What was I supposed to hear?” and I was aware again that the TV was still on. Outside was pitch black. The wind calmed down but the rain increased in violence.

There was a lighting that showed a small string of smoke coming from the oven.

“Fedora, they’ve just told their names. Heart Beat member all died in the accident”

we repeat the list of the victims of this tragic event in case someone’s just tuned. LollyDS, PinHead, Heart Beat bands, bass player of JazzaFee

But I heard no more, just my whole body filled with the crashing of the thunder outside.

I heard Sabrina calling me from afar but I didn’t register.

I sat on the edge of the sofa and I stared at the TV, I couldn’t even see properly the images let only hear the speaker. The thunderstorm was furious outside.

My brain was repeating Sabrina’s words like trying to understand them. I couldn’t breathe properly and I felt like a huge stone was hosting itself and then nestling on my breast. The more the stone nestled, the less easily I could breath. I felt my legs going numb, I fell on the floor and I started sobbing curled almost under the sofa.

***

The storm was raging outside, the windows seemed almost breaking apart, the howling of the wind was scaring and the faint sound of the TV speaker was still in the background.

Although barely conscious of the noises around me, I couldn’t stay I knew what was going on. I don’t know how long I spent on the floor curled on myself but when I heard heavy bangs on the entrance door I become aware of the burning smell surrounding me and the black smoke that was filling the apartment.

“Fedora, open! Now!”

It was Sabrina’s voice.

“Sabrina?” I called, but nothing came out of my throat. My voice lingered somewhere around my breast and didn’t move from there.

I tried to get up. I was still under the sofa. My legs weren’t moving properly. It took me some times to move my limbs and getting on my feet.

The banging was still raging outside the door. I could see it moving under the strength of my other dearest friend.

Still trying to figure out what happened exactly and to recall all the events happened before I fell or I slept on the floor, I dragged my body to the door and opened. I felt like someone took a good shot at me as punch back.

“Are you mental or what?” Sabrina shouted and the hugged me tight. I felt pain everywhere.

“But, what are…” I didn’t know even where to start. What are you doing here? How did you know where my father’s house was? How did you come here? But mainly the main question was

“Why are you here?”

“Silly question…for you of course!” she said releasing me and drying her tears.

I didn’t move, I still didn’t understand. I felt sad and confused like it happens when you wake suddenly up after a very bad nightmare. I stared at the spot in front of me until the sight was blurred.

“What the hell happened here? Did you decide to kill yourself maybe?”

She rushed to the window and opened it, and then to the oven. I wheeled on the spot slowly, it was like my brain and body couldn’t work at normal speed or synchronize at all. On the tray she pulled out there was a small piece of charcoal that I think was supposed to be my pizza.

“It’s a miracle you didn’t suffocate with all this smoke. I think it’s due to this bad windows of yours” she said urging to leave her waterproof jacket on the chair and going to the cooking area.

“I’ll prepare a coffee for you. You sit on the sofa”

I decided to obey and I took my time to sit down. There was no way my brain could follow that small brown haired storm that entered in the house. At least at the moment.

Listowel Days

As I promised before going away I’m going to give you the detailed report of my travel to Listowel writer’s week.

As you’ll find out for yourself, it hadn’t been the event I dreamed about and I remembered from the previous experience two years ago, still I’ve copied everything I noted in my notebook to be as more faithful as I can to the events.

 

Wednesday

My partner asked for an extra day off, so we were able to be there before. It was so sweet of him.
It was much easier because we could finish the luggage in the morning, eat a small lunch and then set off without having to rush too much, like we would if we had to leave after work.
All the travel went smooth, Maya slept in the car and after Limerick we stopped at a pub to have a break.
Then we were on the road again. Half an hour before the arrival, Maya became restless so I sat with her on the back sit to play, sing and so on. She began to point to the bag and I realized she wanted to drink.
I gave her bottle but she drank half of it in a few seconds. Too fast!

In fact, ten minutes before the arrival she vomited everything she had left in her stomach since lunch time and a lot of water as well, so we had to stop on the side of the road for a quick change and clean.
When we arrived we met at the main square, the landlady of the apartment we rented for those few days.

Breda is nice and very welcoming lady, and I have to admit this, everybody in Kerry is.
The small house is simply amazing, on the back there is a huge garden and at the edges there is just wood. I let myself go and started to roll into the freshly cut grass under the amused eyes of my child!

We ate out in the evening and we explored the area for the day after. I was anxious already and I wanted to make sure to find the place where the workshop was held.

 

Thursday

The bed was very comfortable. Despite that my body slept but my head didn’t. I got up at 5 because Maya decided for an early morning and as soon as I opened the curtains of the door giving on the garden I discovered a hare hopping in the distance.

I have no clue how I managed to prepare breakfast and make myself presentable and still half asleep I headed to the workshop.

I know that now I might sound ridiculous, but when I stepped into the school I felt inside a movie….again! Schools in Italy aren’t structured in that way and there is no projector in each class, there is any means for communication through all the school. It’s happened to me before, the very first time I came in Ireland. I remember that I kept walking on the street looking around me in awe! The class was nice and finally different from the other workshops I had attended before.

Once again I was the only non-English speaker but I expected that bit.

Siobhán Parkinson is genius, a mad artist! Period!

And I didn’t remember how hard it was reading in front of the public. I mean, my heart was drumming so hard that I feared to feel sick at some stage.

After class, my partner and Maya came to collect me and we went to eat at the restaurant we used the day before.

Once at home Maya went for a nap and we unconsciously joined her. I slept so well, I woke up a bit confused but I could stand on my feet till the end of the day. I was knackered!

I cooked the dinner and prepared Maya’s lunch for the day after. It was a bit weird, I admit that, because I was attending a workshop but I was also supposed to be on kind of holiday as well, right?!

Actually I had to realize that I had a 17 months old with me and she has her needs. I’m always torn between what I want to do and what I have to do. I hate that!

Last two considerations for the 30th of May: happy anniversary honey! We’ve been together for 14 years now. It seems I made a good choice! I love you!

And once again it was too funny to find every now and then the hares in the garden. I was cooking and at some stage one of them was hopping in front of the window!

 

Friday

 

Today once again Maya wanted to make sure I would arrive on time, she woke us up at 4.20, but this time it was my partner getting up and mind her.

Although I didn’t sleep I felt better.

Then I went to workshop and once there I received the feedback on my piece I sent to Siobhán in advance.

I’m going to tell you later, in another post what she told me, because, yes, I need to rant a bit.

I’m sorry but I wasn’t happy with what she said and to be honest I was tempted  to give up what I’m doing and that’s it….but I want to write so, don’t you worry, if you’re part of the few people who like my writing! I won’t!

 I’m going to post the pages I sent her, later on and if you would mind to tell me what you think I’ll highly appreciate it.

Bad news weren’t finished for that day because when I went home I found out that Maya had 38 degrees temperatures, probably due to teething.

 

Saturday

It was the last day of the class and I didn’t go there with such enthusiasm. Still I had fun in doing an exercise involving a new character I made up as directed. I have to admit we wrote a lot and I’m thinking to post some of the exercises.

When I finished, my partner suggested we leave on the same evening in case Maya was sick during the night and keep us awake. In this way we could rest the day after at home at least and not face a travel.

The journey home was fine, no traffic, just a bitterness mixed to will of improving and of planning my next move! Despite it promised to be different as workshop, I ended up in adding nothing to the knowledge I had accumulated in the past ones. This brings me to think that I’ll stop to do them, unless I’ll manage to find a Fantasy Fiction Workshop which is exactly what I need.

Also the whole experience wasn’t that fun I remembered, maybe everything was different now that I’m mum and my partner came over too!

I love Co. Kerry anyway above everything.

I’ll post to you later my piece, so you have time to read it and tell me what you think.

 

Listowel Writers Week

Yesterday, while vegetating on the sofa I received an email from the organization secretary of the Listowel Writers Week in Co. Kerry containing the last information about the writing workshop I’ve booked for!

Clik here to have a look at their website!

It is going to be at the end of the month and it’s going to be fun and full of good tips and information and about writing! Being in that small town during this particular week it’s like being in a Theme Amusement Park for writers! Everybody writes and read everywhere…it’s wild!

I’m so excited that I can barely wait! I hope against hope that nothing will happen before that and I will be able to attend. With such a small baby any kind of problem can wait for you around the corner!

I attended the first time two years ago and in that occasion I followed the Short Story workshop! Since I decided to write in a different language I thought that it could be better start with a shorter kind of fiction! I actually was wrong, but I didn’t know that!

The teacher very kindly explained me that all my short stories looked unfinished or excerpts of books because I put into them too much action. Also she added that I should use my talent for novels.

I don’t know if she was right or not, in particular about the talent bit I’d say, but she actually gave me something to think about. As you can see from my short stories they’re always like this, unfinished chunk of something. Then you have “Marian and Grace”, which is simply boring, let’s face the truth! And that is because I wanted to focus on one detail like they suggested during the class.

So once back from Listowel, I kept following my children fiction class here in Dublin at the Irish Writer Centre and decided to write novels.

The teacher of this class told me that because of the fact that I hadn’t grow up and attended the schools here I might not be able to write children books because my language sounds too complicated for them (a gap I hope to fill once I’ll start to read with Maya!) and that maybe I should darken a bit the content of the stories and write for older readers.

So this is the choice for the writers’ week of this year, ladies and gentlemen: teen fiction workshop with Siobhán Parkinson!

 The good part of a workshop is also that you can have your one–to-one with the teacher who’s reviewing a sample of your writing!

I decided to send her the first few pages of the book I began to write during NaNoWriMo 2012 and I’m looking forward for her opinion, although I’m scared too!

Also this time, considering that I had time, I decided to read a couple of books written by the teacher before the class rather than after, and do you know what? She’s so good.

My advice is to try and read some of them.

I read “Breaking the wishbone”, “Kate” and I’m reading “The love bean”.

She goes very deep into the human soul, although she speaks about common situations and events. Two elements that you could find difficult to match.

But I’m telling you something, I haven’t cried for ages reading a book. Yet, reading “Breaking the wishbone” I couldn’t stop for the last 10 pages. It was too moving!

And again thinking about that, considering that I’m blogging again in order to meet more writers and to have feedbacks I want to ask you a small favour.

I’m going to put in this post the very first page of the bunch I sent to my teacher to be.

Can you tell me what you think about that? And also if you would close the book or you’d rather keep going? I’m looking forward to read your comments!

Thanks!

Here is “Etruscan Pledge”….of course all the layout is gone once copied here but that’s that…

Etruscan pledge

This is something you can’t foresee. You’ll never be able to foresee it. Sometimes you can expect it but it’s never easy to accept it.

However you put it, it’s not easy to live with, to understand. It’s impossible to do that.  But one thing is sure: when it happens, your life changes.

Forever.

There are a lot of people in this world and each and every one of them explains it in a different way. They would say it’s the God’s will, whoever their God or Deity is. Some of them would say it’s the fate or destiny or life.

I don’t have a personal explanation and to be honest I’m not even sure I want to find one right now. What I want it’s just trying to forget and to suffer, because it’s what I feel I need at this stage.

Someone would say that it’s too early to talk about that, but I believe that it’s not. It’s the right place, it’s the right time and it’s the right way.

Writing has always reached such deep layers of my heart and consciousness and plunged its beneficial balm so deep inside me; I could lose myself in thinking.

It’s such a struggle to keep going and to find a way to calm down and to think. Even sitting down on the sofa, trying to recollect my thoughts is something not easy and the most of the times I’m not even sure I want to do that because it’s too painful.

What am I talking about?

Death.

***

I remember when that I was young I spent a whole summer in Volterra, a nice small medieval town in Tuscany, high wall included.

I’ve always loved the idea of walls around a city. You feel protected and at the same time you feel like your secrets are kept safe. Also, you feel entitled to aspect that your life can proceed undisturbed.

There are many towns in Tuscany surrounded by walls but Volterra is tiny and cosy and you feel like there is no way the time could pass by while inside them. It looks like a portrait of an old crone, watching the passing days and years for us, simple humans, living a life way too short to compete with the time itself.

Nothing was more wrong. Well, I was wrong but I didn’t know yet.

I thought that in that particular moment, when my writer’s block struck the fiercer of its blows, Volterra would be the right place where to start again.

I arrived there last June and it was then that my nightmare started.

I think but, mainly, I hope I’m ready to write it down now what happened. Whether prepared or not anyway I have to or at least I owe it to myself and to Sabrina.