I often say that writing is like golf. On the page and on the fairway, there is almost always room for improvement; it’s next to impossible to play a perfect round of golf, just as writing a perfect novel is pretty darn difficult.
My husband is very good at golf. His handicap is four, and he frequently wins the tournaments at his golf club. This, after thirteen years of hardly playing at all, due to his baseball coaching. Clearly, he is gifted. So I was a tad surprised when he announced a couple of months ago that he would begin golf lessons. Why fix what ain’t broke, right? After his first lesson, he found out that his stroke was all wrong, and he’s been working diligently to perfect it.
I’ve published a novel, essays, and a bunch of stories. I’ve even won some awards. But I’d be the first to admit that I have a lot to learn when it comes to writing. I recently signed up for a course in writing young adult novels with media bistro. The idea is that you write a draft of a novel in 12 weeks using an outline. Although I prefer to write without a firm outline, I think it’ll be interesting to try something new. And although writing a novel in 12 weeks seems impossible, I’m looking forward to the challenge. Most of all, I’m looking forward to learning and inproving my craft.
Check out Maggie Kast’s post on the “r” word here. Maggie’s amazing story “Joyful Noise,” inspired by her developmentally disabled son, appears in Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs.
My children love manga, and I keep them supplied with the latest Koro Koro comics, Nakayoshi, Ciao, Ribbon, and other popular titles. I love to see kids with books – even comic books. But I’m under the impression that Japanese parents consider them the literary equivalent of junk food. A few years ago, a deaf teacher talked to us parents about his upbringing. He said that his parents didn’t allow him to read manga. I guess they wanted him to master words, and thought that pictures were too much of a crutch. I was surprised by this. I’ve always thought that pictures helped my daughter to understand text, and because of the pictures, my daughter loves books and has a strong sense of story. I do wish that she would read more text, but I know that she reads some of it. Just as I discovered that she reads subtitles (at least in part) when she asked me to activate the subtitles on a kids’ DVD that she was watching. This may also explain why she likes to watch Mexican and Korean dramas (because they are subtitled).
I also credit the popular boys’ manga Koro Koro comics with teaching my son to read. Although up until a few months ago, I read to him in English just about every day, I never put any effort into teaching him to read in Japanese. Yet, he learned, and he loves to read – in Japanese.
I just had a look at the Library Journal’s latest list of suggested books for reluctant readers, which includes quite a few novels in graphic form. I think I might order some of those titles to get my son reading in English. And I think my daughter might learn something, too.
I just got my contributor’s copy of a beautiful new anthology – Forty Stories of Japan - published in New Zealand. I contributed “A Ramble on Bizan,” an essay that was originally published in slightly different form in Eye-Ai magazine. Other selections include “Bears in Hokkaido” by Mary King, Anna Kunnecke’s memories of traveling with a dissolute theater troupe, Liane Wakabayashi’s observations on “The Longest Living People in the World” (i.e. Okinawans), and Tom Bauerle on Japanese ghosts. Bonus: each essay is illustrated with either ink or photographs.
Once a week, my husband goes to the video store on the way home from work and rents DVD’s for our entertainment. As he is a macho kinda guy, we tend to watch a lot of action movies (though earlier this week we finally watched Okuribito – very good!!) Anyway, last night we watched Bangkok Dangerous in which Nicholas Cage appears as a killer-for-hire. Most interesting to me about this movie was the love interest, a beautiful deaf pharmacist that the Gage character meets when looking to get a wound treated.
In contrast to the sleazy dancers elsewhere in the film, this woman was portrayed as silent, mysterious and pure. (Perhaps this is the male ideal? The number one hostess in Japan is a deaf woman who consoles men with calligraphy.) At any rate, I appreciated that this woman was a professional, and that her deafness was not portrayed as negative. There were a few things that bordered on the unbelievable, however. Although the woman could lip read and write in English, the two rarely communicated via writing. And the Cage character doesn’t even find out the woman’s name until after their first date, when he visits her house.
My own daughter is sometimes a mystery to me, but she is not demure or silent, and she uses any means at her disposal to communicate with those around her. She signs, writes, and draws pictures. Sometimes she yells. And whenever she meets a new person, the first thing she wants to know is their name.
“Bangkok Dangerous” isn’t the best movie of all time, and there have been better representations of deaf individuals in film. Nevertheless, I am always happy to encounter deaf characters positively portrayed in movies and books.