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.

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