I’ve often heard the the life of a writer is a solitary experience. That, as a writer, I am signing up for a lonely journey of self reflection, destined to be locked in a room surrounded by books of successful authors that have either died or I will never have to opportunity to meet. This solitary existence is one of the many reasons to become a writer, if you desire to be alone, locked in a room with a pencil, pen, paper and surrounded by books you enjoy, the ones that were a gift from a friend or family member that you begrudgingly accepted or a book that has been in the family for generations that you can no longer open. After graduation and finding my own place to settle down, I’m hoping my mother’s copy of Giovanni’s room can handle one last journey. The book is on its last leg I can no longer open it without the risk of loosing a page.But what if a life in solitary confinement isn’t the only option available for the writer? What if, dare I say it, the writer can live a life filled with friends and family while still being able to withdraw when a manuscript is due? I am constantly in awe of all the writers that manage to produce amazing novels while still having a family, a career outside of the title of being an author and even traveling the world, especially when all these quotes are available on Pinterest saying that writers should expect to be alone, locked away and never see the light of day ever again.
I’m writing this post in dedication to one friend particularly (he knows who he is) who did me a huge favor! I’ve discussed several times that I am currently writing a novel (still practicing using the word) regarding the Japanese Internment Camps, specifically focusing on discrimination based on race and gender. I had this wonderful idea that to display my Japanese character’s, named Kazuo Kurokawa, determination to stay true to his heritage, to name the short stories that take place in the internment camps in Japanese, using Kanji with English translations underneath. Unfortunately, I do not speak Japanese though there was an effort in undergrad. to learn the language.
My friend, being the wonder person that he is, just happens to be in Japan at the moment so why not utilize his convenient placement and Japanese lessons to my advantage? I sent him a list of blurbs, some titles but most meant for dialogue and today we discussed what each term means exactly and some decisions were made on how they would be used in my story. We talked about the difference in culture and the ways to highlight this in the particular scene I’m working on as well as how the titles should appear on top of the page. Should I use Kanji, Romaji then English? Romaji and English? We decided on Kanji with English subtitles.
Father, where are you?
Get rid of the weird spacing, how fantastic does that look? I for one am super excited about incorporating the Japanese language into my short stories that will make up my novel because one of the main themes is identity and it’s importance despite stereotypes and growing disdain. I think this is an interesting way to display my character’s determination to remember not only where he comes from but where his entire family comes from. And I am very thankful to my friend for translating these terms for me.
So do I agree that the life of a writer is a solitary existence? Yes and no. Yes because at times the writer must lock themselves away in their preferred writing space for hours at a time in order to lose themselves in their thoughts. To create the written works that their readers will (hopefully) enjoy. But to also have those bad days where the writer just sits and stares at a blank computer screen, wondering why the words won’t appear. Question why they decided to become a writer and wait for those moments of inspiration to come, when sometimes they never do.
And then there are the friends and family that support the writer. That draw them out of solitary confinement and remind them to breathe. Experience the life that they will eventually write about. Or, these friends will tell stories that the writer will share with the rest of the world,take them on adventures, remind the writer that they are a writer,
translate titles to illustrate a theme in a novel.
The life of a writer is a solitary existence, yes, but not one destined for solitary confinement unless that’s what you want. I for one appreciate the friends that push me to continue writing and the ones that pull me away so that I may experience life outside of the four walls adorned with books, character sketches, journals and pencils with worn erasures.