Tag Archives: conversation

Best Conversation with My Daughter Ever

Every night, my daughter has a bedtime routine. First, I change her into her pajamas, then she brushes her teeth. She has a drink of water and uses the toilet. I then read a book with her. She’s actually learning to read now, which is great to see. And once that’s done, she lies down next to me and talks a bit.

Tonight, she had an amazing conversation with me. While she speaks almost entirely in Japanese, and I speak to her in English, we understand each other.

She talked about all of the people who are important to her. She started off by saying that she’s a big girl, her friend Tsuki is a big girl, and her mommy is a big girl. She then said that I was cool and her mommy was cute. Then she said she was cute, her cousin was cute, her friends were cute, her relatives were cute or cool (she still calls my mom, her grandmother, a boy or cool). Then she hugged me and said “Arigatou (Thank you).” She hugged me very tightly and talked a bit more about everyone. And then she said “Daddy daisuki (I love you, Daddy).” And finally, “Hontou ni arigatou (I really mean it, thank you).”

My heart has melted. I have the best daughter.

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Authors Answer 57 – Stop Asking Me That Question!

Authors are asked a lot of questions. They may have interviews, they may talk at conventions or book signings, or they may talk with friends and family. Well, sometimes, we get questions we keep hearing over and over again, or are too complex to answer briefly.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 57 – What is one question you hate answering about your writing that acquaintances ask you?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

There are just SO MANY questions that people ask that make writers writhe with rage. I could probably make one hell of a list if given the time. That said, I can honestly say that the one question that enrages me the most is the one people inevitably ask when they find out I have a written, published book: “Is it, like, in book stores?”

I always bite my tongue and try to answer as politely and honestly as possible, but this question makes me so mad every time I hear it because it implies that the act of writing, editing, revising, cover-designing, formatting, and self-editing is somehow less because you can’t find the book at your local Coles or Barnes and Noble. Never mind the fact that you can purchase it on literally any version of Amazon, hard copy or e-book…if it’s not on a shelf in a physical store people don’t think of it as being a “real” book, in the same way that lots of people don’t consider a self-published book to be a “real” book (i.e. “If it was really any good, a real publisher would have taken it.”) And that can be an extremely frustrating conversation to have because writer’s have a hard enough time convincing people that writing is “real” work to begin with.

Jean Davis

Why does it take you so long to finish a novel if you can write it in 30 days? Really? You want to read the crap I write during NaNoWriMo? That’s the roughest of drafts. No one wants to read that. No one.

S. R. Carrillo

“How did you get published?” Because, to anyone who isn’t a writer, the fact that I self-published it usually met with an unenthusiastic “Oh, okay. That’s pretty neat.” -_-

Elizabeth Rhodes

“What’s your book about?”  Not that it isn’t a valid question, and I’m glad people take enough of an interest to ask.  But I’m terrible at summarizing things on the spot.  I want to include every character interaction and motivation as I’m relating the plot, and next thing you know my “elevator pitch” is taking five minutes.  There’s also part of me that is still afraid of being judged, whether it’s “what, you can’t even tell me what it’s about?” or “why would you write about that?  Weirdo.

Eric Wood

So far I haven’t had to field any questions about my writing. I just write and people just read. They leave/make comments when they feel inspired to. Having not yet been published, my audience is rather small (but important).

H. Anthe Davis

I don’t really have a problem with any questions, though ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ is a bit annoying.  But I enjoy talking about my worldbuilding and writing process probably more than people appreciate hearing about it, so I immediately override any obnoxious question with my obsessively detailed answer.  Take that, person who dared be interested in my work!  Seriously though, I can’t think of any questions I’d consider ‘bad’ unless someone was purposefully trying to be offensive.

Allen Tiffany

Honestly, I don’t bring my writing up with very many people. In fact, it’s a closely guarded secret from my co-workers. It is not that I’m embarrassed about it. Rather, it would be an unneeded distraction in my workplace. As to family and friends…I’m pretty private about it. When I publish I let them know. Other than that, not sure there is much to talk about. If I need feedback and discussion about theory and technique, it is via the online workshop, CritiqueCircle.

Caren Rich

Until recently, I was a closet writer. I didn’t tell acquaintances that I was a writer. My close friends and family knew, but that’s it. So I have no funny answers to share!

Paul B. Spence

I hate to answer THIS question the way everyone does, but honestly, one of the worst has to be “Where do you come up with your ideas?” Most people don’t like it when I answer, “In the shower.” Or, if you want the Scott Pilgrim answer, “From my brain!”

Gregory S. Close

It’s always frustrating to answer the very innocent question of “how’s the book going?” if it’s not going so well.  When things are moving along, the questioning and curiosity is less awkward because I feel like things are working and I know what I’m doing.  When things aren’t going so well, the question feels like an indictment and I want to hide in a cave.

The other one that’s hard is the “when will the book be done?” question.  For most of the writing process, I have no idea when it will be done, because the story and characters are evolving around me as I write, and the plot is adapting to those new realities as well.  It’s sort of like Monty Python’s Sir Lancelot running toward the castle, over and over again, almost there, then back to the beginning, then almost there, then back, then – suddenly there’s a flashing sword and it’s all over, and I’m standing there confused saying “hey!”

Either way, the problem is really with me and not the person asking the question.  It’s my insecurities that make the answer difficult. The questions themselves are pretty innocent.

D. T. Nova

“What’s it about?”

I am terrible at summarizing, especially when I have to do it quickly.

Jay Dee Archer

I don’t really get many questions about my writing from friends and family, but the one question I find difficult to answer is “What’s your book about?” I think that’s pretty common, actually. It’s too difficult to describe a book briefly without it sounding kind of silly. I’m always worried they’ll ask more questions, like “Why are you writing about that?” or “Do you think it’ll be a bestseller?” Those are also difficult to answer.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what question do you hate to be asked? If you’re not an author, but a reader, what questions do you like to ask authors?

Let’s Have Fun Discussions: Ask the Readers

I feel as if we have a nice little community here now, and we often see many of the same people in the comments. I’d like to begin a regular Ask the Readers feature where I pose a question, answer it, then hand it over to all of you to answer in the comments.  Maybe we can have some lively discussions. Some will be fun, some serious, some silly, some controversial.

The topics could be anything from writing, blogging, world events, food, science, books, parenting, politics, religion (yes, I’m going there), history, and more. Really, the sky’s the limit.  But I’m not going to be the one asking the questions. You are.

So, in the comments below, please ask your questions. But please don’t answer the questions below, only ask them. Once I start getting questions in, I’m going to post them once a week. So, let’s have fun!

Talking to Authors

Many readers would love to talk to their favourite authors. With the internet, it’s quite possible to have that chance. But it depends on the author, as well. Some are very open to talking to their readers and easy to contact. However, others are quite busy and not at all easy to get in touch with. Some have other people handle their correspondence.

I’ve spoken with a couple authors who are well-known or relatively well-known within their genres. One is Alastair Reynolds. He wrote the Revelation Space series. The other is Michael J. Sullivan. He wrote the Riyria series (and is still writing in that series). Michael has contributed on this blog, as well. There are many others I would like to talk to, and maybe I will in the future.

Which authors have you spoken to (in person or by email is fine), and who would you like to talk to? Let me know in the comments!

A Japanese Language Barrier Just Shattered

Something just happened a few minutes ago that has me quite surprised. But I’ll get to that in a moment.  First, a little background.

I started studying Japanese when I was in university in Victoria way back in 1997. I took just one class, and I thrived. I learned hiragana and katakana in just two weeks and could read and write fairly well within a month. I seemed to have a knack for it. I also had a very good teacher who supported us extremely well. By the end of the term, I could give someone a tour of a house. I was tremendously pleased with how quickly I learned. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the second class because of schedule conflicts.

Fast forward to 2005. I arrived in Japan and was like anyone who’s traveled to a foreign country for the first time, completely enamoured by the sights and sounds of Japan. I was happy to notice that I could still read hiragana and katakana and recognised some of the kanji, too.  I bought textbooks, and I intended to study and start speaking with people.  What happened was different. I spoke English all day at work. I spoke English with my friends. It seemed I only spoke Japanese with shop staff when I was shopping, and that was very limited.

In 2007, I challenged the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) level 3, which is survival Japanese.  I studied hard for 3 months before the test, but it wasn’t enough.  I failed, but just barely.  A year later, I studied furiously for 3 months and passed the test with a huge improvement in listening.  Why exactly was my listening so good while everything else was just mediocre? TV. I watched a lot of TV, and that helped my Japanese comprehension a lot.  At that point, I could understand the topics people were talking about, but not the details.

After that, my Japanese studying stagnated.  I still used English all the time at work. There weren’t many opportunities for me to really use Japanese.  When I met my wife in 2010, I still spoke English. When I met her family in 2011, I tried my best to speak with them in Japanese, and still do to this day. However, I felt like my Japanese never improved, and that was because I just wasn’t trying to use it as much as I should have. I couldn’t really at work, because it’s an English language environment.  And with my daughter around at home, I only use English because I’m the only source of fluent English for her to hear.

Everywhere I go, I still hear Japanese. My wife speaks Japanese with my daughter and quite often with me. And I’m always telling myself that I need to study. I need to try.

But something happened tonight that amazed me. I was watching a video where someone was interviewing people on the street about what is great and not so great about Japan, and I suddenly found myself understanding. Not just the 10 or 20% that I’d been understanding of people around me.  But it was more like 75% understanding! I was listening to them speaking and I knew what they were saying! It just suddenly came naturally. Such a strange, yet wonderful feeling.

I’m hoping this feeling happens more often. It’s given me a bigger push to work on my Japanese. I hope by the end of this year, I can have decent conversations with people, especially my wife’s family.

今から一生懸命勉強しますよ!

Smartass

Ever been called a smartass?  I have.  Why? Probably because I tend to take questions and comments literally and respond likewise.

For example, if someone asks me, “What’s up?” I answer, “The sky.”

Ever do that?

More examples:

“What are you doing?”

“Breathing.”

“How do you write so many blog posts?”

“By typing.”

“How can you type so fast?”

“By moving my fingers quickly on the keyboard.”

On occasion, I’ll respond to a simple question that has an obvious answer with an unexpected answer.  My favourite is this:

“Did you get a haircut?”

“No, I dyed the ends of my hair invisible.” “No, I retracted my hair back into my head.” “No, my head got bigger.”

I could go on and on.  Why do I do it?  The standard response is a bit boring, so I like to spice things up a bit.  Those who know me should come to expect these kinds of answers from me.  I’m also sarcastic.

How about you?  Do you have your favourite smartassed responses to simple questions?

Edit: Oh yeah, this is post number 750.

My Job and Writing

I teach English in Japan.  I’ve been doing it for more than 9 years, and should be here another 2 years.  As a result, I’ve been forced to think about English grammar and vocabulary nearly every day for quite some time.  It probably helps me with my writing in some ways.

One aspect of my job is that I have to know the proper way to say something using grammar.  Now, this isn’t always required, since I’m teaching conversation, not writing.  I teach a lot about casual conversation, as well as formal and business English.  There are idioms, figures of speech, and many other aspects of language that are not very natural for Japanese people to use.  You see, they learn grammar in school, but not conversation.  They can read reasonably well, but when it comes to speaking, they often can’t do much.  Of course, I do teach advanced students, but they’ve been studying English for a long time or have had to use it in business or lived overseas.  I’m exposed to a large variety of students, so I have to use many different kinds of language.  As a result, dialogue may be one of my stronger suits in writing.

When I began teaching, I didn’t know everything.  In fact, I found it kind of difficult to explain different rules for grammar and the difference between similar words.  This has caused me to learn a lot about my own language.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to grammar these days.  I guess I’m a Grammar Nazi.  I’ve also always been good at spelling.  In grade 8 in junior high school, we were given a spelling test to determine what level of spelling we had.  I had a perfect score.  I was spelling at a university level while I was 13 years old.  So when I write a draft, my spelling and grammar tend to be very good.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s great to read.

An interesting thing I’ve found is that the Japanese language has loan words from English, but the meaning is different.  For example, Japanese naive means sensitive in English.  Also, there are many mistakes that Japanese people learning English make.  For example, the usage of particles (a, an, the), the usage of almost, and verb tense problems.  Sarcasm is also not commonly used in Japan, so it often goes over the head of many Japanese.

When I read, grammar or spelling errors pop out to me.  The rare mistake is fine. But if they’re happening on every page I read, I find it difficult to read and take the book seriously.  Problems with to and too, confusing your and you’re, and mistakes with their, there, and they’re irritate me.  I also easily spot problems with quotation marks and commas when using dialogue and dialogue tags.  And the incorrect use of apostrophes aggravates me.  Maybe I could be a proofreader.  Or maybe I should stick with writing and blogging.

Do you have any difficulties with grammar or spelling?  It’s embarrassing to say this, but I often forgot if it’s embarrassing or embarassing. I don’t have that problem now.