I haven't written since the SCBWI Tokyo Writers' Intensive Retreat in June, I think. As I dip my toes back into the writing world (on this blog, and eventually on Twitter), I find myself thinking about why that is...
Right this moment, there is something more important to me than writing. Something that takes up the time and the brain-power that I normally would happily let writing have. That something is the fight to stay in Japan. I mentioned in my last post that my contract will end soon, and that I have to find something else to move onto. I also mentioned that I'm doing everything in my power to be prepared for any opportunity that may pass my way.
That everything includes learning Japanese. Not that I wasn't learning Japanese before... But my spoken Japanese, while understandable, is not Business-level Japanese, rendering it utterly useless in my job search. That means I have 7 months to get fluent. On top of which, Japanese uses the Chinese characters called kanji, of which there are literally THOUSANDS. The joyo kanji (Daily Use Kanji) is a list of 2136 characters. I'm currently working on learning them so that I can be on par with my the competition. So between grammar and kanji, every ounce of spare time I have goes into Japanese study.
But Claire, surely you could afford to sacrifice a few minutes a day to pursue something you love and want to make a life of.
No. Not really. Yes, I want to be a writer. But I also want to be in Japan. Being a writer doesn't have an expiry date on it - which is probably why so many potential novelists talk about 'one day.' Being in Japan does. Unless I find a job. Which, in my mind, revolves around being prepared. Which, in turn, equates to spending ever spare moment studying.
I make the choice to spend every spare moment studying. But, here's a little secret. When you study hard-core for 6 to 7 hours most days (in between work and maintaining a house and a pretty active social life), your brain has zero desire to be engaged in non-study hours. I can't create when I'm working this hard.
At the end of a day's study, I curl up with my DVD player, pop in the Japanese remake of Ikemen Desu Ne, and watch a few episodes. Even that is study, but at least it's passive, and way more enjoyable Sometimes I read Harry Potter. In Japanese. Or hang out with friends. Mostly Japanese, of course. But. nothing that involves my brain.
It might be different if the activity I was putting my all into was purely physical. But it's not, and when I close the textbook, my brain does that automatic log-off thing like your bank's website when you leave it open too long.
In fact, pushing myself to study so hard, means that Japanese has taken over many of the places where creativity would normally be. No more hilarious situations or quirky characters. I dream about kanji!
I don't mind it that much though. I know it's not forever. I'll be back to the creative world come August. After I secure this one goal, I'll get back to working on that other one that's taking a back seat for now.
Until then, I can't write.