My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Posts tagged ‘English’

The Insurmountable Task of Researching One’s Novel

I’ve discovered very early on that it’s incredibly challenging researching for a novel that takes place in a culture and in a place completely different from your own.

Since my book in set in Japan in the mid-Meiji era (1890), it’s posing to be a challenge. For one, as an American and “westerner” I’m not experienced in the Eastern culture, so I really have to immerse myself in books, videos and other sorts of research to put myself there and not make any major cultural gaffes.

And then there’s the language barrier…I don’t exactly speak Japanese (although I’m hoping to learn at some point). I know a few words and phrases; I know how people are addressed (-san, -chan, -sama, etc.). Still it’s difficult creating what I would think is semi-accurate dialogue.

And of course, it’s really hard setting my book in a real town that’s basically remained unchanged since that time and can only rely on pictures online and descriptions of it to put it in my book. Unfortunately, with limited income, I can’t really afford a two-week trip to Northern Japan to do the really great research I’m dying to do.

Oh and I can’t forget the whole aspect of involving the yakuza in my book. Finding detailed information on this has been frustrating at best. I’m thinking it has something to do with the fact that it’s still a bit of a taboo talking about this vast and incredibly complex “underworld.” I have found a few books and some information on the Web out there but not enough detail for the time period I’m needing. Most of the information comes from part of the Taisho period (1912-1926) and then a great deal during the Showa period (1926-1989). Mine takes place in 1890…I know it existed then–they’ve been around since the Edo period. And I also know it probably vaguely resembled the modern yakuza. All I can ever find for my time period is a page or two at most of info…

I’m not giving up though. I just have to find another way to go about it. And I will not sacrifice historical and cultural accuracy–books like that make me extremely annoyed as a reader; I do not want to put my readers in the same boat.

I suppose this is part of the fun of being an aspiring novelist!

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Why Did I Get a BA in English?

I have been asking myself this question since I graduated college: What made me pursue a BA in English?

For starters, it was the closest thing that represented what I was interested in. I tried journalism, but of course the school I went to decided to  make it mostly graphic design focused, and I’m NOT artsy enough for that…and then senior year they changed it. Go figure. I was three years too old. So I majored in English.

History was another consideration of mine, since my passion for it is about as equal as my passion for writing. But I realized that a history degree would only really be useful for teaching or else going and getting a Master’s which wasn’t something I wanted.

Now I’m discovering that pretty much is the same for English.

I can’t seem to find a job relavent to my degree–at least not in Dayton, Ohio…I know, not the greatest area, but I’m kinda stuck here. Hubby has a good job and he’s advancing quickly. Unfortunately this area is pretty much only good for technology related jobs…something I didn’t go to school for and have no interest in.

I went six full months with nothing but temp work…then I was able to fall into a job as an admin assistant (glorified term for secretary) in real estate. While I’m thankful for this job, I’m also finding myself growing increasingly depressed about it. Mainly because it’s not anywhere near related to any thing I’m interested in, and also, it’s a job I could’ve done right out of high school. It makes me feel as if I flushed 80K down the toilet. Don’t get me wrong–I really do like the agents; they’re very nice (most of the time, but that’s like any job) and I have a great boss. But it’s not my passion and it feels like I’m stagnating.

I have been working on my book more and more and I’m hoping that’s my saving grace…because right now there’s really not many options here, unless I were to pursue a Master’s and try for a library science degree (which I feel would probably also lead me no where, and then I’d be stuck with even more college debt).

Sorry for such a downer post; I suppose I’ve had plenty of time to think about it…

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