Thursday, October 31, 2013

NaNoWriMo Prep

copy small caliopy
Me in my favorite spot

In the weeks leading up to my spontaneous and belated decision to do NaNoWriMo, I’ve had quite a lot of preparation to do.

1. First on my list was to get the house in order so I had a comfortable space to write. This also involved stashing up on a few goods for inspiration... 
Liquid inspiration

2. The next step was a bit of literary housekeeping. I was determined to finally finish transcribing my diary, journals, and hundreds of notes and scrapes of writing I've done over the years, into an electronic version so I could pull from that well when needed.

3. I also had to make a writing schedule so that I had some measurable way of ensuring I stay on track and checking my progress. Like most people, I work full time and have social commitments (yes, even out here in a village of 3,000 people), so on some days I have no writing scheduled. 

Here is my totally honest and possibly naive writing schedule for November:

Monday4no work!4000
Tuesday5no work!4000
Wednesday6late night500
Wednesday13late night500
Thursday14business trip0
Friday15business trip0
Saturday16business trip1000
Sunday17no work4000
Wednesday20late night500
Monday25 work1000
Wednesday27late night500
Saturday30celebration party!3000

This is the learning year. This is the year I find out what kind of writer I am. 

Do I write better in the morning, evening, or the middle of the night? 
Can I write for hours uninterrupted, or do I write in short bursts of energy throughout the day? 
Do I need to chart and plot out every detail in a  scene before hand, or am I able to create it as I write?
What do I need to focus? Background music, alcohol, other people?
Do I prefer to keep a routine schedule for writing, or do I work better by changing the time day to day?
Am I more focused and clear-headed when I am at home, or in public? 

I can't believe I've been writing for all these years and I still can't answer these questions about myself. 

4. Last on my list was to finally finish detailing my trip to Pakistan. This serves several purposes. First, it is great practice for novel writing. Unlike my fictional novel, I don't have to imagine a story, a scene, or characters, because I lived that story, I saw those scenes, and I know those characters. All that is left to do is describe the experience. When I write about Pakistan, I can relax my creative muscles for a bit and focus on technique.

Apart from being a great warm-up for a novel, the travel diaries will also serve as my reflections for years to come. I may not have another chance to go back to Pakistan, and I since I don’t want to forget many of the fine details of my once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I can look back on my writing and be instantly reminded of the wild and wonderful time.

Lastly, and perhaps least importantly, my travel journals provide some substance for this blog. I plan to post several excerpt from my journal throughout the month of November, so that during that time I can focus solely on my novel. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

I live here: My House in rural Japan

copy morning fog

If three months in the foggy mountains of rural Japan wont inspire me to write, I’m not sure what will.

Sounds like a good excuse to join the National Novel Writing Month and pledging to write 50,000 words in 30 days?

In an ambitious goal, especially for an undisciplined soul such as myself, but after all, if I’m going to call myself a writer, at some point, I have to write.

And what better place to embark on such a challenge than my rustic cottage tucked deep in the velvet green forests of western Honshu.

And speaking of my rustic digs, its about time we take a tour of the place that is going to be my writing fortress for the next month. 

house collage small house collage 2

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Food Carts at Omotesando and Good Company

The best thing in life is the people chili cheese fries

It's no secret, the best places on earth, are the places with good company.
No matter where you are or what you are doing, the best thing about life is the people.

A weekend night in Tokyo gives a traveler too many choices. Lounge, bar, or nightclub? Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Roppongi? I’ve had to make this decision many times, and at one point or another, I’ve just about everything everywhere, and guess what?
It’s not all that fun.

Don’t get me wrong, a night of rowdy drinking certainly can be fun in the big city, but my best late night memories of Tokyo are always about the people, never the places. 
The people are what color this city magical.

So I decided to spend my weekend night in Tokyo with two of the best people I know.

We found an open air food cart festival in Omotesando and spent our night under the stars, drinking Sangria and vanilla lattes, eating chili cheese fries, Indian curry, and caramel sponge cake. We shared memories of old times, caught up on current events, and dreamed about the future.

It was one of my most memorable nights in Tokyo.

tokyo food carts emi and sarah

When the festival closed we walked from Omotesando to Shibuya, discovering a Thai restaurant and the Freeman Café on our way. But that will have to wait until my next trip to Tokyo.

In a symbolic gesture we said a goodbye in the middle of the Shibuya Crossing. 

The Gambia: Photo Diaries from the City

Although I flew into Banjul, I spent very little time there. Most of my time 'in the city' was actually spent in Banjul's sprawl...