Job Hunting Part 3 - Writing

Current eating: Jasmine tea and Japanese walnut tea pastry

It has been about a month since the last entry, and with the exception of some volunteer work I did in Aomori City, not much else has changed in this sleepy prefecture.

In reference to Job Hunting 2, I am still working on music, except now it's the shorter and much more easily managed topic of video game music remixes. I'm working on an obscure Kirby theme right now that I will probably post sometime later.

Today's new adventure is in writing. In my recently started never-ending search for a way to make money, I pull myself in the literary direction. And I always start with a grandiose end result dream.

Imagine, if you will, a podium with me behind it. On the side of the podium is an etched university seal with Latin scribbled across its face. Even though I can barely see through the spotlights beaming at me from across the stage, I can feel the expectant gaze of every single person in the packed lecture hall, waiting in bated breath for me to begin. This is the guest talk that has been advertised for months, and I'm both relieved and nervous that people are actually interested in hearing what I have to say. The lights cause a thin trickle of sweat to start pooling at my brow, which then neatly carves a path halfway down my face before I wipe it off with a flick of my wrist. A deep breath and sip of water later, I am steadied, ready to utter my first words.

And why are they here? Because I published a

...? What did I publish? A collection of short stories? A collection of poetry? A novel? A nude photo book? Regardless, it sold really well. I am also holding a martini in one hand, and my speech notes in the other, though I plan to throw them away in a dramatic flourish to emphasize how spontaneous and brilliant I am.

And therein lies my greatest problem. I may have these ridiculous fantasies of self-importance, but I require a medium with which to achieve it.

Out of all the insanity that my mind has shat out, in the realm of self-employment, writing is probably my best option.

Only option.

I am inspired. Right now. I'm reading Amy Tan's memoir, The Opposite of Fate, and her stories are moving, particularly because we share that silk thread of being Asian-American. She draws upon her own history, and her mother's history, and her grandmother's history to weave her stories into tales of hope and then tragedy and then some sort of hopeful ending but still tragic. And she probably gets paid a butt load for it. She has her own Cliff Notes, which really means she's made it somewhere in the writing world. I have often thought, and spoken aloud, that my own family could be the foundation for a great soap opera. Why not a work of embellished fiction?

I have thoughts. I have ideas. I have dreams of becoming the Ayn Rand of this century, just with less architecture and angry people. And, similar to the impetus of Rebecca Black's Friday, I have another reason to keep writing because I just read an awful book which I might review later. Let me just put it out there that if you are interested in the early Kamakura period of Japan, do NOT purchase White as Bone, Red as Blood: The Fox Sorceress. I think I should have heard the warning bells when the author's biography prints as such:

"Cerridwen Fallingstar, a shamanic Witch and Priestess, has taught classes in magic and ritual for over thirty years. Since childhood, she has had the ability to time-travel, entering alternate realms and distant times at will. She is a professional writer and psychic."

I shit you not witch and priestess were capitalized. But I am deaf to my own warning bells and plowed my way through some 300 pages of the most agonized reading I've done in a while. There are only so many lesbian love scenes I can take before I hit a limit. Especially when they are being described in terms of "jade pillar", "blooming orchid", or "dipping one's willow into the river". I can hear the koto in the background and it is being played poorly.

I may have higher standards because I studied classical Japanese poetry and literature and hold it in the highest esteem. Her anachronistic application of homeopathy and disregard for major historical texts and proper romanization was especially difficult to swallow.

But! Again, if she can get published, and even have the courage to call herself a professional writer, then I should be able to write and get paid for it as well.

To note, I have a poetry collection in the works, entitled 108 Poems Inspired by the Japanese (tentative). It is, poetry, inspired by earlier Japanese poems, but written by me, and not as good, all circling around the theme of love.

The pros: Poetry comes naturally to me. I think up poems even when I'm not thinking about it. I am minimalist with my use of words and meanings. I have won or placed in a couple of contests and got published in small magazines or mailings.

The cons: I'm afraid to my mind they seem so wonderful and metaphory, but to someone reading them they'll think I'm a teenager on her period who just got dumped after losing her virginity.

But you know, the great thing about poetry (and to my limited knowledge, especially Japanese poetry) is that the reader does all the work, and the writer only nudges the mind in a certain way.

Let's try a small example. Let's say I give you the description of a man:

"And I remember the first time I saw him. He was silhouetted against the spotlights, the light casting strong shadows that emphasized his physique; his musculature showed where the clothes clung to his body from the sweat. His chiseled features looked especially sharp that day, and while he may have seemed nervous as he gave his speech, his eyes bespoke a whole other world behind them. Was this the mind that created (insert masterpiece)?"

Or a woman:

"When it comes to hips, hers are unmatched. They're wonderful to look at when she's sitting down with her legs crossed, but when she walks, my god, not a single man can keep his eyes off her. Her hair is perfectly made up; when I asked, she says she only spends 10 minutes in the morning on it. Luck is quite unfair with DNA sometimes. However, she certainly knows how to pick the right clothes to emphasize those curves. She better watch out though, with looks like hers, there'll be a lot of angry wives chasing after her soon."

In these two examples, I have described a specific man and and specific woman, each conforming to ideas of traditional beauty, but not necessarily what each individual thinks is beautiful.

To test, what is the first image that comes into your head as you read:

"Handsome man"


"Beautiful woman"

Different than what I wrote right? With one adjective and one noun, your mind spins a whole being into reality, complete with looks and and a personality, the paradigm of what you believe to be  "handsome" and "man", and/or "beautiful" and "woman". For those of you that created a handsome beautiful man woman, I applaud your creativity for it stretches far beyond my own.

Now, if we enter the realm of what I believe is poetry, it gets even simpler. I just made this poem up a couple seconds ago to serve as an example.

Your face
among the drifting cherry blossoms.
Do they enhance your beauty?
Or do you complete theirs?

I actually kinda like this one. I think I'll put it in after a few more edits.

In this case, I have given you a simple image of floating cherry blossoms (it is Spring in Japan after all), and a face. The face is totally up to you, but because of the last couple of lines, it will be your lover, or the lover you wish you had. I personally like interplay between contrasts, which is the only thing I can think of most of the time, so that's what you get, the balance of beauty and the question of which one is the main and which one is the complement.

The most wonderful thing about poetry is that it's supposed to be deep. So hell, if you see an image that I never intended, props to you. Just give me the credit ;)

All in all, this is a rather late start to consider writing as a career, but Amy Tan first published The Joy Luck Club at 38 years old, which means I still have some time left. I'll just need to find a way to feed myself until then.

For those of you who have been published, in any medium, do you have tips for a hopeful writer?