Category Archives: Writing

Thinking Ahead

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Before everyone becomes too accustomed to my Japan-oriented posts, I wanted to take a moment to update with something a little different. Still somewhat related, though, and if you’re considering coming to Japan as an ALT, it’s something you might want to keep in mind.

Since coming to Japan, I’ve received two different pieces of advice that have steered me toward my current life plan.

The first piece of advice was given to me in the form of a question. While in Japan, what is it that I hope to accomplish? What do I eventually want to do with my life?

For the longest time, my ten-year plan led up to an ALT position in Japan. It seemed such a big, faraway dream until suddenly… it happened.

I scrambled for an answer to the question, but I only had vague notions of what I wanted to do next: translation work (a little  ambitious when I still couldn’t read or speak Japanese fluently), writing, something related to writing (publishing?)…

I was told to think about the question and use my time in Japan to plan ahead to make my goals happen — to not wait until the end of my time here to suddenly wonder what happens next.

The next piece of “advice” came from a therapist. In Japan, therapy isn’t covered by the national health insurance program. I paid out of pocket. The man I hoped would help me with a really difficult situation instead took it upon himself to make everything worse. He said a lot of biased, hurtful things to me during my one visit, but the comment that stuck the most was that working as an ALT is like a black hole — it won’t go anywhere.

As awful as he chose to be, there was a little truth to what he said.

ALT work doesn’t lead directly to a new job, but the experience you gain from working abroad can do wonders for your resume. Just so long as you know how to apply it.

I’ve been struggling for months, wrestling with the question of what to do with my life after this. Finally, I’ve decided I want to eventually go into publishing — potentially in the editing side of things. I’ve lined up a potential internship for next year that will give me some experience editing a project. Meanwhile, I’ve applied to a few things online that will give me relevant experience in the field. I have at least two potential jobs in writing lined up. I landed a small job writing travel guides for an app and another job working with a book review website. I’m in a really good position with my job as an ALT supporting me. I can afford to work for free on some things just to gain the experience and resume gloss I’ll need to get my foot in the door when I return to the US.

A plus side to these extracurricular activities is that I’ll be honing my writing skills. Maybe I can tack on finishing and publishing my novel to that ten-year plan.

More on that later, though. Tomorrow returns you to your regularly scheduled Japan updates, but expect the occasional dash of book/writing/publishing talk from time to time.

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Cosplay

There’s always been the stigma for me in the US when I’ve explained some of my less mainstream hobbies. Novel writing?   That’ll get a quirked eyebrow, but it’s not so weird. Drawing? As long as I’m drawing something traditional or they’re looking at

318205_10100910939122765_2088813721_none of the portraits hanging in my parents’ home, that one gets a pass as well. Cosplay, though. That one I need to justify. Usually I can sooth my way into a pass, though. I usually break out the Kami-Con justification.

Kami-Con i s an event I’ve helped build from the ground up since the beginning of college. Thousands of people go to it annually and it’s becoming (become?) fairly successful. My hobby is a part of that hobby. I mention numbers and dollars, then I can come out of the conversation without seeming like a total weirdo. Usually.

Japan, though, is an entirely different ballgame. When I first arrived, I wanted to   include cosplay in my self-introduction to the JHS kids. I’ve been in two of the    main-event stage plays for Kami-Con, so I wanted to tell the kids about how I love acting and making costumes. I was cautioned by the other ALT to leave it out, though. That it was too much. I can talk to other extremely nerdy foreigners and get similar reactions. D&D? Sweet! Cosplay? Whoa, take a step back! Slowly I’m trying to come up with a way that explains it to Japanese friends so that it won’t make them immediately turn their noses up. It’s fun trying to explain the differences in American anime cons and their Japanese counterpart, though.

Really, though. People need to be a touch more open-minded. Cosplay is an art to a lot of people — myself included! It’s a way to put those sewing talents to a creative and fun use. I used it as a way to connect more with my grandmother. We made my first cosplay together — her coaching on sewing techniques, me trying to make those techniques mesh with my grand vision of how the finished project should come together.

I use cosplay and cons as creative outlets and ways to connect with other creative people. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? ❤