Age is just a number, after all.

One thing I struggle with in all these endeavors is if I’m biting off more than I can chew. For the past couple of years I’ve been motivated by a seeming fear of my life ending at 30 or something—like if I don’t get cracking on everything I want to do with my life ever RIGHT NOW time will run out and the rest of my life will be spent in complete drudgery. It makes no sense, I know—but neither do a lot of fears.

Incidentally, when I venture out to meet other folks interested in what I’m interested in (djembe class, the SCBWI event, the Celtic music session, the Cotati Accordion Festival), more often then not the people there are my parents’ age or older, many of them retirees who want to make the most of their free time.  And that helps keep me grounded.

Life seems to speed up as you get older, I’ve observed, but there’s a big difference between me now and me half my life ago. I’m sure when I’m double my current age it’ll be the same thing. I’ll grow and change, hopefully for the better, and while my brain’s plasticity may be more limited, I’ll hopefully be a lot wiser than I am now.

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Japanese.

I didn’t plan for this to be part of this blog at first. In fact, part of my original intent for this blog was to get away from it, in a sense.

I purposefully haven’t specified the country in which I spent 29 months between 2012 and 2015 for a couple reasons. First (and most) of all, I’m no longer there, and I have no imminent plans to return. But it’s also kinda cliché: I taught English in Japan. (Technically, I was a missionary.)

It was an amazing experience and I miss it very much. But after I returned Stateside I knew I needed to keep moving forward. The eponymous “terrifying creative endeavors” are part of that; they’re things I didn’t have the time or means to when I was working 6-day weeks and 10-hour days in a community setting. During those years my accordion sat in a closet in my parents’ house and the second draft of UNBoaTCfAFHV went unopened for months at a time. What I was doing instead was the most worthwhile two-and-a-half years of my life, but I always knew it would end; it was a two-and-a-half-year-long program.

I started studying Japanese in high school, and in college entertained serious thoughts of going to grad school to become a translator. I knew I wanted to go live in-country for a few years, at any rate.

While I was there I continued studying on my own and passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N2, the second-highest level. But as my time to return to America grew closer and I looked around for my next career move, I discovered that the demand for Japanese-to-English translators lies primarily in areas I am useless in: finance, engineering, business. Me? I wanted to translate children’s literature—and there is precious little demand for that right now. So in order to earn a living, I had to choose something else. Hence, what I am in grad school for right now.

My Japanese study was shelved after I got back to America, but last week I had the chance to go out to the city for a Japanese-English language exchange event, which was great fun and reminded me of everything I loved about studying it in the first place. A few days later I pulled one of my dusty Japanese children’s books off the shelf and, just for a lark, translated the first couple of pages. Still as interesting as it was five years ago.

So perhaps it’s time to add “Japanese translation” to my list of creative endeavors, though it is admittedly a bit less terrifying, since it’s not quite as personal as fiction writing or music composition. Challenging, though, for sure—in the best possible way.

Cosplay commitments and ocarina shenanigans.

Busy week (and weekend). A few things of note:

  • I went to another anime/nerd convention with pals over Labor Day weekend and we had so much fun watching and interacting with cosplayers that we made a mutual commitment to actually cosplay in the next year or so. The next day saw us designing cosplays and trawling fabric and craft stores for supplies and materials. We’re trying to keep each other motivated because these projects could easily fall by the wayside into a pile of craft foam and broadcloth, and this in particular is something we’re pretty excited about. (We’re going to papier-mâché an exercise ball and put googly eyes on it. …It doesn’t make that much sense even in context, but the idea left us in tears with laughter and we hope when it is completed it will amuse others, as well.)
  • At the above con I impulse-bought an ocarina (a gorgeous 12-hole Brio from St. Louis Ocarina’s booth), which I am currently enjoying annoying the cat with. It has a lovely full sound, especially in the low notes. Fingering is a little tricky, as is making sure my fingers are covering the holes all the way.
  • On Wednesday I gathered all the acoustic musical instruments I own (accordion, harp, ukulele, ocarina), plugged in my $7 microphone I bought when I was abroad to use while Skyping my family, opened up Audacity, and played around for a good two hours. No, I am not going to be a producer anytime soon. But I had fun.

Prioritizing writing.

This week I tried a new thing.

I’m used to writing being a “fun” thing; something I do after all my homework is done. This works when you’re a high school or college student, perhaps, but I’m a grown-up now, and writing is something I seriously want to pursue. If I want to make a living from it, it has to become work.

Part of my problem has been that when I come home from (my current actual) work, I turn on the computer and do things like check my email and RSS feeds—things that I feel like I need to get out of the way before starting my “fun.” That’s where the rabbit hole starts, and by the time it ends, I’m too tired to attempt writing. (Or, on worse days, I plop in front of the TV and watch two hours of Netflix over dinner before even touching my computer.)

So on Thursday I came home, turned on my computer, opened up the sequel-in-progress to Untitled Novel Based on a Talking Cat from America’s Funniest Home Videos in Scrivener, picked a playlist, and lit the WRITING candle. This is what happened.

  • 5:34pm 4,478 words.
  • 6:08pm Candle is at maximum meltage before spilling into the holder and is extinguished.
  • 6:24pm Potty break. Cat joins me because why not. Cats are weird.
  • 6:31pm Cat jumps on lap.
  • 6:31pm Cat leaves lap.
  • 6:31pm Cat back on lap licking my arm.
  • 6:32pm Cat now on desk with butt four inches from my face. Thanks, cat.
  • 6:33pm Cat butt is obscuring numpad of keyboard. Tail extends over length of keyboard. Thanks, cat.
  • 6:42pm Fatigue begins to set in. Perhaps dinner is in order.
  • 6:45pm Second wind.
  • 7:13pm I’ve been stuck on what to name a character for a good fifteen minutes. Maybe it’s time for dinner now.
  • 7:14pm Dinner time. 5,317 words.

839 words. Not bad for 90 minutes.

  • 9:41pm Still ended up watching TV for two hours. But at least I did real work today.

PS: The candle might be better during winter months. It is HOT right now.