Sometimes I get comments / feedback from my readers that draw me, even snatch me, from wherever my mind might be wandering at the moment.
I mean, there I was, sitting around thinking myself into un-creative stagnancy when I received the following email:
I know I could post directly on your blog, but comments always seem so flimsy, don’t you think? I enjoyed your podcast interview, you seemed really classy. I guess it’s hard for podcast directors not to seem like rank amateurs no matter what they do, but maybe that’s shouganai. I have to point out though, that you were totally lying when you said that other Japan bloggers do the same thing you do, write from the heart. That simply isn’t true. The vast majority of Japan blogs I’ve read, even when I know that they’re written by thoughtful, intelligent people who have spent a good deal of time here (including close friends of mine), are just not as open as you are, and don’t face the real issues head-on. There are some issues that I think even *you* could be more blunt about, although your writing has gotten more and more direct and unflinching with time. Most writers here are stuck in tourist mode, not really looking for anything deeper for themselves or their readers than “what Japanese people do on ___ Day” or “What _____ Means to Japanese People.” For anyone who’s been living here for more than a year and still has their brain turned on, that’s all a waste of time. Of course, I understand that it would be rude to say that most other bloggers are posting from the perspective of Bullshit, so, hey, props to you for not coming across as an elitist douchebag.
I really enjoyed the segment toward the end about women’s roles in Japan. You didn’t say much then, or maybe you couldn’t get a word in edgewise, but I find it refreshing when men talk about gender issues without direct prompting from women. “Gender”, after all, is not a synonym for “women”; men should talk about gender and sexual politics at least as much as women do. I still find it sad to see men back down from talking about it directly for fear of being un-PC (eg the “housewives are lesser than career women” line). One thing that always annoys me though, why do so many people, men and women, from many different countries, think it’s entirely normal for women to be able to “choose” between being a housewife (whatever that even means) and working at a job? As if by being female, we’re exempt from being expected to do anything for the world outside of our own children and close family? I always feel like the “choice” is a false one: most women actually don’t have a choice to work or not work outside the home. Most women DO have to work at a job; the gender issues are more related to expectations in any field not directly related to earned income (who will take care of aging parents? who will cook the meals? who will check up on the kids? who will do all the thankless tasks like laundry and dishes and anything related to poop?) Gender in and of itself isn’t something I see many men writing about in general, nor you in particular, but it’d be cool to see more about what kind of background you had, what your parents were like, what you imagined “man” and “woman” meant and whether or not those things played out to plan, and whether or not those ideas you had changed when you came to Japan.
I’m really excited to see what you get into next, whatever your next series will be! I’m a long-termer in Japan too, and I’m really a big fan of your writing. If you’re ever in need of peer editing (though I’m sure you have better resources than an unknown like me) I’d be happy for the chance to exercise my English brain. Take care, and best of luck in your latest endeavors.
I don’t know…
Part of me wants to be the kind of writer that isn’t concerned with what readers think.
I know some of you guys are probably like, what???
But, I’m dead-ass serious. This part of me feels that dependency on readers, on the audience’s feedback, on approval, on kudos, is a sign of weakness. This mindset not only applies to my writing but to many facets of my life. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I like to think of myself like Forrest Gump running cross country mainly because the memory of those leg braces he had to wear as a child is a constant reminder of the blessing that the ability to run really is. And, his thoughts of Jenny, the woman he adores, is the only fuel his body needs to keep going. Borne by love.
And all those people who joined Forrest (through no effort or manipulation on his part), or stood on the sidelines cheering him on, though they had no way of knowing or understand why he was doing this apparently crazy thing, were still motivated and even inspired by his actions, attributing their own thoughts, feelings and experiences to it.
I guess that’s just the romantic loner in me.
The other part of me…that weakling in me (I tend to think of it) is a glutton for praise and acknowledgement, would rather drown in a sea of attention and support than live to withering old age without it. He wants to be popular. He wants to be important, groundbreaking, cherished, adored, respected, laid and PAID well…all that good shit. He wants to be read by people like Dana, and Chris, and Rubi, and a number of my other readers who I’ve ascertained from their comments to be thoughtful, conscientious, intelligent folk, and a million others, and be granted by these people accolades like, “Loco, you were totally lying when you said that other Japan bloggers do the same thing you do, write from the heart. That simply isn’t true.” That others “are just not as open as you are, and don’t face the real issues head-on.”
Yep, the weakling in me gets weak in the knees when he reads stuff like that.
I think keeping this blog has been like a public wrestling match with myself. The battle wages for the world (theoretically) to see, and that I believe, in part, is what sets Loco in Yokohama apart. It really has given me as much as I’ve given it. I’ve used it as a reminder of the leg braces I’ve worn over the course of my life. so to speak. And, it has used me, as well. Drawing on my talent, my creativity, to help me achieve the things it knows I want to achieve in life, even despite that loner in me, sometimes. Like some kind of benevolent Frankenstein.
Anyway, Dana, thank you very much for the feedback in that first paragraph…Allow me to show my appreciation by giving your second paragraph the attention it deserves.
You’re right, I don’t like to get into gender issues (or even talk about women much) because I know I have misogynistic damn near barbaric tendencies, and I was afraid I’d stick my foot in a big pile of un-PC and disarm whatever charm my blog might possess…particularly for my female readership, and probably some of the male, as well. Like I mentioned on the podcast, I avoid talking about women. The reason I gave (that there are so many other bloggers out there talking about Japanese girls and I didn’t want to attract that kind of attention) wasn’t complete…I was hedging. In fact, it was so incomplete as to almost constitute a lie in itself!
Yep, you done opened up a can of worms, Dana, bless your heart. Or, rather, inspired me to take a look at a part of Loco that I rarely look at in print. So, out of respect for you and my readers, I’m gonna set those worms free to squirm around…a little. (-;
I smell another series…
…to be continued
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