Roppongi, Tokyo, on New Year's Eve

Roppongi, Tokyo, on New Year's Eve
Among other things, I am writing a detective series that takes place in Tokyo. The first novel, "Be Careful What You Ask For," centers on a much-admired Tokyo police inspector being forced to confront his ties to a crime family while investigating a murder in Roppongi.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Writing blogs

I have taken a break from polishing my novel. The time I spend from writing was instead invested in discovering writing blogs. Curiosity about self publishing lead me to read blogs where writers eschewed traditional publishing. Curiosity about what authors have to say, other than the words they've managed to get published, lead me to other blogs.
I find keeping a blog a much harder to do than when I wrote a weekly column. Perhaps I don't treat the blog as something that must be done, that I have a deadline that must be met. I want to get away from that roller coaster. Yet I find deadlines abound. I set a deadline to finish my rewrite by month's end. Will I make my deadline? No. I set a deadline to write a blog every week. Did I? No. My excuse is: the time it takes to find an idea and write about it is time away from polishing my novel. I have high hopes for it. I believe it is the one manuscript that will catch people's attention. It has been the object of my sweat and blood for months on end.
So why do I even mess with blogging?
I suppose it's the same reason I ventured into the world of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I know that at some point these platforms will help me in the mysterious ways of social networking. But for now, it's time to get back to getting that novel published.
Then I'll worry about blogging.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Computers and Writing

A friend of mine, whose writing credits amount to college writing assignments and some freelance work, has settled into an apartment in L.A. and plans to embark on writing a play and a screenplay, then a history he's been talking about since I've known him, and that's 30-plus years. An inveterate raconteur, putting pen to paper just isn't his thing. However, he learned to type when he was young and as a clerk-typist in the Navy he managed to get into the 80-words-per minute range. One would think this would would make using a computer to write his fiction easy. Nay-Nay, the comedian once said. My friend eschews computers. I've never know him once to fire up one of the machines without cursing and stomping and damning the thing to hell.
So on a recent visit, he showed my the typewriter he'd bought, at store not far from his home. It's an impressive machine. Not one of the ancient Underwood manuals that I learned on, a typewriter so heavy it would qualify as a lethal weapon. No, his was small and sleek and portable, but the type was that typewriter type that exists only in memory, it seems. He had typed up something to show me, nothing more than words on a page really, but for him it was a prize, something to be admired. For him, writing on a typewriter was a return to a normal life. He could walk to his grocery store, his liquor store, hang out in his local bar, and when it came time to write, he didn't have to flip a switch, check a connection, ensure a printer was indeed capable of printing. He simply had to insert a sheet of paper into the carriage, think a bit about what he wanted to say, and then type.
Simplicity itself.
Upon showing me his treasure, I remarked that many writers of note still write in longhand, and some still write on the typewriters they obtained early in their careers. He seemed pleased to know this, this affirmation of what was right in his world.
And I was pleased for him. A man ought to surround himself with what is good, and familiar, things that work and if they don't work, the man knows how to repair it, and bring it back to a state of usefulness.
I asked about replacing the ribbon, or perhaps the need of replacing a key if one breaks. My friend told me about the shop where he bought his typewriter and the man there. I was told there were many writers in Los Angeles who use nothing but their typewriter. They keep him in business, I was told.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On Writing a Letter

The other day, after an especially good phone call with someone whose friendship defies time, the notion of writing a letter to this person proved irresistible. But I waited several days, mulling over the intent, what to write, the right tone, all the things absent in this world of emails and texts. Writing a letter requires time, thought, patience, and a good pen. I wimped out and grabbed a Bic and my trusty legal pad, but that's not the point. Good stationery is fine, but the letter is the thing. And after writing a good warmup letter to my parents -- my mother loves getting letters -- it was time. And it was written before I realized I was signing my name.
So into the mailbox it went.
I just learned of its reception, satisfying to the other party, which is the aim of a letter, isn't it? As with all things these days, a mention on a social website elicited comments such as "I remember letter in a mailbox, they still do that, huh?" and "saving the envelope and keeping the letter, we should all try it" and "Oh good June, they can put it right next to the dinosaur display (at the Smithsonian)... I can't wait to see."
I used to write lots of letters to lots of people all the time. Then came the 21st Century. I've decided that phenomenon isn't a good enough reason to stop writing letters.
But finding a stamp could prove problematic, given time.