Tag Archives: Japan

Thoughts I Can’t Stop Thinking


by Lillian Csernica on June 10, 2013

Seven Things That Cross My Mind A Lot:

ONE: What it’s really like to make your living as an actor.  It seems to me the business demands much more of actors than ordinary moviegoers like me really understand.  Actors in America are held to a standard of physical beauty and perfection that has to take up a lot of time in terms of maintenance.  How do those people find that time?  Personal trainers and home gyms must help.  Then there’s the memorization of lines, sometimes newly changed lines every single day.  That would make me crazy.  To be an A list movie actor seems so glamorous, and I’m sure it is at times, but it’s got to be something such people work at 24/7.

TWO: My weight.  My body image.  What I eat.  Why I eat it.  How much I enjoy dining out.  What diseases am I setting myself up for, i.e. hypertension, diabetes, and whatever genetic dispositions I’ve inherited.

THREE: What love really truly is, under all the hype and the philosophy and the hormones.  I know about agape, eros, philia and storge.  Those are descriptions of manifestations of love.  What is love at its absolute core reality?  Does it have one?  Or is it a psychological chimera?

FOUR: The battle between me owning my possessions and my possessions owning me.

FIVE: Whether or not I’ll get to be a grandmother.  I think I’d be good at it, given all my travels and my stories and my costumes and the weird stuff I’ve collected over the years.  This is in the back of my mind as John enters high school with its heightened social interaction between boys and girls.  I will watch John’s progress with interest and no little trepidation.

SIX: How people can be really smart in some ways yet at the same time be really stupid about certain specific matters.  I’m not just talking about love again, for example.  I know somebody who has an astonishing grasp of worldwide military history, yet one day he was incapable of finding chocolate ice cream in a town with two grocery stores, two gas station mini-marts, two drug stores, and half a dozen restaurants.  I’ve heard Southerners use the expression “brilliant but not very bright.”  I think that means some people can absorb a lot of “book-learning,” but in everyday practical matters they haven’t got a clue.  Comments?

SEVEN: All the places in the world I want to visit before I die.  Japan, England, Ireland, Greece, Russia, Spain, Italy, Polynesia, and more of the U.S. too.  It’s sad to live somewhere and know too little about its history and attractions and people and noteworthy local buildings, handicrafts, cuisine, etc.

One life is just not enough, know what I mean?

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X is for X Marks the Spot


by Lillian Csernica on April 27, 2013

You might not know it, but you’ve got a big X on your forehead. Might be black, might be red. It’s the X you see on treasure maps that marks the spot where the treasure is buried.

Flannery O’Connor said, “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” Our memories are treasure, sometimes buried, sometimes not. As writers we have to dig into those memories, along with all the other thoughts, images, opinions, likes and dislikes and whatever else we’ve buried under that metaphorical X. We’ve all heard the rule about “Write what you know.” Let’s rewrite that: “Use what you’ve experienced!”

We’re all specialists in our own ways. Me, I know more about the history of Japan than my Japanese teacher does simply because of all the research I’ve done for my current novel. My best friend has advanced degrees in Marine Biology and Physical Anthropology. Those come in very handy when she’s writing science fiction. A formal academic degree isn’t essential. Hobbies and passions and family traditions can provide the basis for in-depth knowledge that adds those special details.

Try this. Sit down and write a list of all the subjects you know something about. Put down everything, from the complex process of bioengineering to the mucky details of unclogging the garbage disposal. It’s ALL valuable, because it’s all raw material for writing. You may well discover knowledge you didn’t know you had. I call that buried treasure!

Dig in. Dig deep. Gold and jewels await!

Buried Treasure: illustration of William "...

Buried Treasure: illustration of William “Captain” Kidd overseeing a treasure burial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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L is for Logophilia


by Lillian Csernica on April 13, 2013

When I looked up logophilia on the Web, some rather strange links came up. It’s a simple enough word. Logos means words and philia means love. (Some people seem to want to interpret philia in a baser, kinky context, which I thought was the province of eros.) I’m not sure if every writer I know is a logophile, but I am sure that my best friends and closest colleagues love words as much as I do.

Take the word subaru, for example. To most English-speaking people, especially Americans, a Subaru is a model of car made in Japan. A closer look at the Subaru logo will reveal it as being the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters. Subaru is the Japanese word for that constellation! When I first found this out, light exploded inside my mind. Of course the Japanese would have their own terms for the constellations. I’d just never thought about what words other countries and other cultures would use for something like a grouping of stars in the sky.

This is not to say I don’t love words in other languages besides English. Far from it. Being a writer takes you into the places where words have their hidden meanings. Where words in one language mean something very different somewhere else. Where loan-words stand out as moments of comprehension in a flow of air and sound that goes by too fast to interpret.

I love big cities, airports, major tourist sites, and summer at the beach because I can walk along and hear two, three, four, maybe even more different languages. The Romance languages are a close family. Plenty of cognates to help you find your way. Mandarin, Estonian, Finnish, Basque…. The individual words are all mysteries to me, but I still want to hear the sound track.

Words I love: Arcadia, clandestine, aubergine, tokidoki, vaquero, txotxolo.

What are some of the words you love to read and write?

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H is for Historical Accuracy


 

by Lillian Csernica on April 8, 2013

f you’re going to write fiction or nonfiction that involves historical data, there are three ground rules that must be kept in mind.

1. Check your dates. Then check them again. Do not believe what you read unless you can confirm that information in at least three separate credible sources.

2. Spell the names/places/objects right. Please, please, for the love of all that’s literate, respect the language of the people you’re writing about and make sure you spell your historical terms as they should be spelled for the time period in which you’re writing.

           Example: My current novel is set in Japan. While I speak a certain amount of modern Japanese, I’ve had to learn the archaic words and grammatical forms appropriate to the Tokugawa Shogunate of 1867. That’s only half the battle. The other half is making their meanings clear to the reader by creating the right dramatic context.

3. Watch out for anachronisms. Dictionary.com says:

Noun

  1. A thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, esp. a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.
  2. An act of attributing a custom, event, or object to a period to which it does not belong.

Edward III is often referred to as the Black Prince. Historians believe that nickname arose from either his black shield and armor, or his reputation among the French in Aquitaine thanks to him bringing a force of mercenaries through on a chevauchée designed to pillage the populace and destroy the farming. Important fact: the first reference to Edward III by that nickname occurred more than one hundred and fifty years after his death. If you’re writing a novel in the time of Edward II, the Black Prince’s father, you’d better refer to Edward III as Edward of Woodstock, which is where he was born. To call him the Black Prince would be anachronistic.

Am I belaboring this point? Damn right I am. As a reader and a writer of historical novels, I love history. Nothing makes me more furious than catching a mistake that could have been avoided with some proper research. Always write for your most intelligent readers. You respect them and they’ll respect you!

Historical accuracy.

If the hats aren’t ugly, you’re doing it wrong.

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