It’s been great to kick off my newsletter this month, over on substack. I’ve enjoyed writing to you every week, keeping in touch, and sharing reflections and postcards from Sicily.
Well, it’s been fun once I managed to get myself started. Before I began writing, it was terrifying, and I procrastinated like nobody’s business (can you believe I painted the attic and did every odd job I’ve been avoiding for the last six months!)
But that’s perfectly normal; I know the symptoms. Whenever I do something new, exciting, or vaguely challenging, my mind goes into protection mode.
Procrastination is a sign I’m doing the right thing. If I’m scared shitless, I will waste time, which means I’m doing the right thing.
The universe reminds me whenever I forget the reason behind my avoidance behaviour and start to feel bad and criticise myself for being lazy.
For example, the other night, after three days of very little productivity, I read the following paragraph in an article by best-selling author Gabriela Pereira:
“Understand that resistance is not the enemy. It is your compass and can guide you precisely where you need to go with your Writing. Resistance always points to the juiciest material and most interesting ideas.
Don’t blindly follow someone else’s best practice. You need to test different approaches and only adopt the ones that give you the results you want. Remember, another writer’s best practice might be your personal nightmare. The only best practice is the one that works for you.”
Then, I immediately read a quote from Georges Simenon, famous for writing the inspector Maigret murder mysteries. On Writing, he said: “Writing is considered a profession, and I don’t think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don’t think an artist can ever be happy.”
So it looks like I’ll be damned to a life of misery, procrastination, fear and endless self-criticism as long as I stick to the vocation that is writing, which I have no intention of ending.
I’m happy to report that I have a few free and paid subscribers, but I’d like to tempt a few more people to sign up for my paid subscription.
To remind you of some details of the different types of subscriptions for my newsletter: A Load off my mind.
A free subscription will give you a weekly post written exclusively for you. Including Postcards from Sicily about life in Italy and a personal letter about whatever is on my mind.
The paid newsletter will get you the regular weekly post, a serialised version of my travel memoir Sicilian Descent, and other bonus content.
Subscribe or become a founding supporting member or patron for:
• Bonus emails: including personal essays, poetry, book and music reviews, articles, photography and art.
• Access to a new creative community for interesting commenting and discussion threads.
• A serialised version of my Sicilian travel memoir recounting my journey and family connection to the island.
• Special offers and other goodies. You’ll be the first to know about any new publications and everything else I am working on.
• Plus, a whole lot of kudos and my eternal gratitude.
I’ve already started to email the first few segments of my travel memoir, but you aren’t too late to get exclusive access as a paid subscriber.
Sicilian Descent has undergone several manifestations, as most books do. At first, I wanted it to be about the different Sicilian Villages that migrants left behind, simply because I love visiting these ancient places. Each Sicilian paese has its character, and I wanted an excuse to go and see as many as possible. But that idea was too self-indulgent and general.
As I began to blog and share my experiences from Sicily, first on a dubiously titled blog called Unwilling Expat and then on Sicily Inside and Out, I honed my experiences into a personal essay style I think people like. Looking back at the most popular posts on all my blogs, they are dedicated to personal experiences.
Sicily has been my obsession for decades, and I think I have read almost everything written by Sicilian authors and foreigners. From history books to guide books and other memoirs. So I think this research and loving obsession have helped to add detail for the reader.
After a decade of Writing, research, redrafting and endless editing, I finally finished Sicilian Descent two years ago. Before and during the pandemic, I have been working with an editor to polish it up for potential publishers.
I realised it probably would never find a publisher as it is a particular niche publication. Rather than having my memoir rejected by publishers who don’t know or care, I might give it to my readers who do. Hence the idea to start a paid newsletter with a gift for lovers of Sicily looking for a truthful portrayal of life on this island.
What Sicilian Descent is about is my own personal, strange and, at times, an awkward journey during my first few years living in Sicily. I shared a lot of myself and even some uncomfortable situations to make something honest and genuine.
Here is a little reveal of the contents page, with each chapter title, to tempt you to become a paid subscriber.
Introduction: Inevitably drawn to Sicily
1. The road from Catania to Sinagra
2. Settling into the family
3. Small-town Sicily
4. Hunting near the belly button
5. Spectres of Palazzo Salleo
6. Coming under Sicily’s spell
7. In the footsteps of Saint Leo
8. Violence, decay and inertia
9. La Pillera
10. Making friends with death
Epilogue> After a lifetime in the underworld
I hate to be long-winded, so I will stop here for now.
I’ll keep trying to write something worthwhile, well thought out and new here every week, perhaps more often if I get in some karmic writing zone.
This is a sparkly new newsletter, so I’ll try some new things over the next couple of weeks to test some ideas. I might play around with the format to add more value and structure. So be patient with my experiments, and please let me know your thoughts.
Thanks for subscribing, and be sure to send this to a friend or someone you think might enjoy it.
Speak again soon.
With love and light
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