Signs of Spring

It may only be early February, but that’s when the signs of spring appear in the Tokyo area of Japan. This morning, we went for a walk to see Mt. Fuji, but it was too hazy.

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So we focused on what was around us. We were near the Fujisawa campus of Keio University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Japan, and we were able to enjoy nature.

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The Kawazu cherry trees have started blooming, and we were also greeted by some mejiro, or Japanese white-eye.

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We were also surprised by a red-roofed shrine, Utsumochi Shrine.

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The cherry trees weren’t the only things blooming. The Japanese plum trees continue to bloom, too.

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This week is going to warm up significantly. On average, February is the coldest month here. However, the forecast for Saturday is 18 degrees and cloudy. Valentine’s Day will be a balmy 23 degrees and rainy. Very surprising!

Are you stuck in the middle of winter, or is spring beginning to show itself where you live? Or are you in summer in the Southern Hemisphere?

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Considering the Snowflake Method of Writing

Today, I saw an article about writing using the snowflake method. I haven’t really thought about how I would categorize my own writing and outlining method, but I thought I’d see how it compares with the snowflake method. So, let’s jump right into it.

Step 1 – I have not done this. I don’t have a one sentence summary.

Step 2 – I haven’t written a paragraph summary, either. At least not in this way.

Step 3 – I have done some work on character profiles, but not in this way. I don’t have a summary of their storyline. I have a summary of their life history before the story started.

Step 4 – I have done something like this. Expanding the summary paragraph into several paragraphs, each part ending in a disaster. I’ve summarised Journey to Ariadne chapter by chapter.

Step 5 – I haven’t done character synopses. These are a full page describing what each character does in the story. Maybe I should.

Step 6 – Expand step 4’s sentences into individual paragraphs. So, basically making a longer summary of each section. I have not done this, but I have made a longer paragraph for each chapter. This should be a four page synopsis.

Step 7 – Making character charts with a large amount of information, stats, storyline, how they change by the end of the novel, etc. I have not done this completely, but I have done some basic background information, as I said.

Step 8 – Take the four page synopsis and make a list of scenes in a spreadsheet with the point of view character noted. I have absolutely not done this.

Step 9 – Make a narrative description of each scene, basically expanding each sentence into multiple paragraphs. Dialogue can be added if you like. Nope, I didn’t do this, either. Apparently, it’s a quick version of a first draft that can be written quickly, and makes it easy to write a summary for submitting to a publisher.

Step 10 – Write the first draft. The article says that people who use this method can write books at a far faster pace than if you don’t outline in this way. For one thing, you know exactly what happens in each chapter, and you’re never guessing about what will happen. I haven’t done this, either. Well, I have done first drafts for Journey to Ariadne, but this isn’t meant to be a novel. It’s meant to be a short introductory story about how the world comes to be colonised.

I may attempt to use this method, just to get a better idea about what I’m writing. And maybe it’ll help me write faster.

Does anyone use this method? Or do you prefer another method? Let me know in the comments.

Unreal

Sometimes I think about where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, and then what will come in the future. I know they’re my memories and my view of my future, but they seem so unreal.

My childhood was a long time ago. That’s what it feels like. I am a different person now than I was back then. So much has changed, yet a lot is the same. Many of my interests are the same, but through my experiences, successes, failures, and disappointments, I’ve changed. I’ve become who I am today because of past events. My childhood, high school, university, my old call centre job, and even my first few years in Japan feel like another life.

Some things changed slowly, others were dramatic and sudden changes. My first days in university, my final days in Victoria, my last few days in Canada, my first day in Japan, the bankruptcy of my first company in Japan. Those were big changes that feel so long ago. My daughter’s birth feels like my current life. That’s where I am now, a Canadian father living in Japan with his wife and daughter. That’s what makes the next step seem so unreal. I’ve been at this stage of my life for a while now, and I’m about to go through yet another life-changing event.

The future is less certain. Canada is a real thing, but feels so foreign to me now. I expect to feel like I don’t belong, at least for a while. People I know have changed. The city I once lived in has changed drastically since I left eleven years ago. It will be strange being back there to live. Then what will my life in Japan become? Another unreal stage of my life?

I remember the feeling when I first came to Japan. It was surreal. It felt unreal, even while I was in the moment. Everything was so foreign and exotic. Now, I can’t imagine it being foreign at all. I’m so used to it. The first days in Canada may feel like that. It’s been more than five years since I’ve been there. We’ll first go to Vancouver Island, which I haven’t been to since 2001. Fifteen years! I understand the feeling I have right now, knowing I’m leaving a place I love. I went through it when I left Victoria. I got over it, of course. I will get over this after a few months.

And then there are new challenges. My daughter is starting school this year. That seems so crazy. How did she become four years old? What happened to the baby I held in my arms? She’s a walking, talking human being who has her own opinions, sense of humour, and likes. The changes are so unreal. I can’t imagine her when she’s six, eight, ten, a teenager, and an adult. That just does not compute.

I have gone through so many changes, and many more will come. I feel like I’ve lived several different short lives, each one feeling foreign and impossible to go back to. But life goes on, and the experiences can only make me wiser and stronger. I was a shy child who couldn’t speak to a stranger at one time. I ran away from the spotlight. Now, I don’t hide from it. I’m not shy any longer. That still feels unreal.