This was January, with its readings and writings.

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January was a useful month. That’s arguably a sad adjective to lay on top of an entire month, but think about how many of your months had no remarkable happenings and ponder once again if useful is really too bad. That’s what I’ve done, anyway.

I did manage to put together a writing schedule, which amounts to at least 6000 words per week. Mondays and Wednesdays are tough, for having German classes until 21:30 after an eight hours work journey isn’t the easiest of worlds; on these days I aim for 500 words. In all the other the goal is 1000. The motivating part is to think that back in December, the 400 words per day appeared to be the greatest of challenges. I wouldn’t say they are trivial yet, however, they do feel more instinctive to shoot on paper (or screen?) every day.

It does happen, however; it really does. You may not bleed, as Hemingway suggested, but you may feel like there is a thread to the story, you found it, you can uncover it from the sand and dust, and keep pulling it, following to wherever it leads. That happens, yes.

Mostly, it happens if one is on track with one’s reading. So this is my exercise to wrap up what I thought about the four titles of January.

 

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On Writing – Stephen King

This man is a genius and there’s not much to argue about it. Not to me, anyway. And if you can take a peek in the way a genius think about his craft, you ought to do it, don’t you?

There’s a whole lot of do’s and don’ts here. Some may work for you, some may be rubbish. What I can say is the following: On Writing is as the same time a practical guide to the aspiring author and a mentoring guide to adopting a mindset that will help you to get stuff done. So, if you reckon that nine euros is a fair price for about eight hours of Stephen King’s advice, you’re down to this one.

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American Gods – Neil Gaiman

This is Neil Gaiman drinking from pretty much all the mythology he could put his hands on and weaving all together in a storyline full of allegories, ancient references, and exotic characters. To me, there are two ways to read this book: you flip the pages and follow closely the story (that’s the fast one. Reading a book, you know?), or you stop at every new character that jumps in to Google which god or mythological figure it refers to (this path will take a lot a lot of time, but it pays off).

American Gods is a wonderful reading. Shadow is an odd protagonist, which allows all sort of strange things to happen around his story. And for a number of reasons, you got to agree with the prologue when it says this is a very long story with something wrong in it.

If you’re reading this, Neil, those are your words, not mine.
I love you. Peace.

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Night Shift – Stephen King

In my humble opinion, if you’re willing to write great short fiction this book is a master class. Which makes me think that I had two master classes from Stephen King during the month of January for less than 15 bucks. It’s really a bargain, isn’t it? Here you’ll find short stories written throughout the 70s, and If you pair it up with On Writing in the same month It’s pretty much like having mind-blowing theoretical and practical masterclasses. Above all, it’s liberating to see story after story how free you can experiment with your ideas. Apart from being, of course, Stephen-King-well-written, these stories feature men turning into a fermented mash, people with alien micro-eyes in their fingertips, dudes surfing on the eve of the apocalypse and trucks that gain life trying to conquer the planet – so, yes you can pull up a story from a lot of places. It feels encouraging, doesn’t it?

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The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury

The last book I finished in January. The character that named this book is a sort of Arnold Schwarznegger covered in strange tattoos that gain life during the night and tell stories of every sort. However, the book has less to do with the Illustrated Man (who actually only appears twice, maybe three times across the pages) and more with a branded, very recognizable dystopian sci-fi idea from the early 50s, that Bradbury mastered, or I should say, really helped to build and consolidate. It’s a collection of fifteen or eighteen short stories, mostly reflections over human behavior in face of typical situations brought by strange (now retro)futuristic issues. Every single story is amazing. I only missed more about the Illustrated Man himself.

 

That’s all for now.
I’ll be back next month, most likely late again.
Stay warm folks.

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New Year Wishes 2019

One more trip around this powerful though sweet neighbor sun, aboard our crazy spaceship Earth.

Taking by people around me, both from the real or the virtual scope, I’m obviously late to send my New Year wishes. No surprises, I’m frequently late, so when I’m only four days late in a three hundred sixty five days context (or is it one of those years with three hundred sixty six days?), then I feel I’m not too late. If this was a one-hour meeting, I would be about a minute behind and that’s really a triumph for my standards.

So, if you came for wishes, scroll to the end of the page. They are there, waiting for you, sprouted from the surface of my heart. But before the sprouts, through the tiny holes came the bleeding. A few sweet drops of my year.

New Year's Eve in Berlin 2019

Lap 2018 around the sun, since Christ allegedly was born, felt like settling down. It’s our second January in Berlin, mine and my lovely wife Emily, and the first in five years I’m not with my head buried under thoughts of dismantling my flat, moving to another place. Well, I am thinking about moving apartments, but the thoughts don’t urge. This time it’s just a wish. In the light of so many wishes that came true in 2018, I’ll give some slack and allow Mr. Mind to exercise its patience with new or remaining ones.

We traveled, oh how we traveled. We have been to Iceland, crossing three-fourths of a cold country raised above volcanos and hot springs, through empty Martian and Saturnian roads, so gorgeous that the eyes wouldn’t believe or jade to stare. Its mountains, and canyons and glaciers and trolls guarding the coast; and the Aurora of such intensity one can swear it also holds sound and smell. Iceland takes your breath and keeps it under one-hundred-thousand tiny volcanic pyramids in the Westfjords, all from the days when hot lava and glowing rocks rained over the land – If you close your eyes you can see it all happening. It treasures it there, your breath, so you must get back to reclaim it. And you shall.

We visited the north of Italy in three. We, the couple, and Tequila (Tequila is my shaggy canine lady, of whom I’ll eventually talk about in this Journal). I’ve seen the alps for the very first time on the way there and for the second time on the way back. I conquered peaks on the Dolomites as if they were only mine, while together Emy and I conquered as if they were only ours. And Tequila had a leak on the mountaintop as if it was only hers. In Bolzano, lakes are blue as dreams would be if you dreamed of the prettiest blue. And I meditated on the edge of a rock in Cortina d’Ampezzo, only for the joy of opening my eyes with an empty mind and filling it with the dazzling sight of the Italian sun.

And we walked through the woods, so many times I can’t keep count. In Briese and in Saxony, only meters away from Chechia. On Sandstone mountain, where the rocks have been polished for centuries by careful elves and witches, who always keep them black, shiny and with a generous portion of a lively green moss on top; for that’s the way they like it.

The very last decision of 2018 was to get back to writing. After eight tracks I’ve composed and produced, tracks which are in no rush to go out in the world, I decided making music had been a hassle and it was time for a change. That was to take part in my new year’s resolutions but without a reason to wait, I started writing again in December, making it less of a promise and more of a fact. The last pieces I wrote, except for songs, are now probably 5 or 6 years old. Maybe more. Things in Portuguese, on the company of the dear Mariana Quintanilha for a lovely zine Patricia Chmielewski, the Japatratante, organized and kicked off at Feira Plana.

The year kicks in with the excitement of old creative habits getting back, dressed in a different language to be unveiled. The meanings and metrics and rhythms, all fresh and challenging, smelling like that new thing.

My 2019 started surrounded by dear friends and family, over a bridge that once divided Berlin in two, watching the fireworks in the sky and dodging the fireworks around us – for Berliners have a peculiar way of matching gunpowder and festivities.

All that said and all that bled, if you came for wishes, this journal inaugurates to send my wishes to you. It will continue throughout the year, but for now, these are my wishes:

I wish you energy. We are starting one more trip around this powerful though friendly neighbor sun aboard our crazy spaceship Earth. If we haven’t talked too much lately, know that I do see you. I do celebrate your good times and I hope the bad times were really just a few. Maybe they weren’t, and if so, have faith they will be. The world is big, but that’s one the Internet white spells: we do see each other. And to my account, there are plenty of good feelings we foster inside ourselves, just by knowing that people we like are doing alright in their lives. People that might not be around, but that we like and only wish good.

I wish you wisdom to accept and enjoy whatever comes to change. This year I’ve seen friends mutating, getting married and engaged, taking big decisions, raising beautiful children, changing careers, seeking dream, moving flats, cities, and counties (yes, all of you, I get it). They were traveling, fighting complicated battles, winning complicated battles, working out and working in, falling in love, living life in its unavoidable impermanence.

We are once again starting our trip. This might seem like the same place, but believe me, we are light years away from the last lap. It is new indeed.

My heart pounds to wish you a great ride.

Feliz ano novo.