The Japan Files: Traveling as a Writer

Before we get into Japan as an influence on my writing, I want to talk a little bit about traveling as a writer.

First, the flight to Hawai’i was 6 hours. The flight from Hawai’i to Osaka, Japan was 10 hours. That’s 16 hours of writing time! I stayed up for the flights so I could konk out when we got to the first hostel (since it would be late at night when I landed). You want to know how much I wrote?

No, no you don’t. Because it was so little, I’m too ashamed to say. I got one of those seats with an outlet, plugged in my Gameboy, and played Pokemon for almost the entire trip.

And I didn’t write anything for SAAFire while I was in Japan–outside of the travel notes I may use as a reference later.

You know what I did do? I took pictures. I took pictures of everything I thought might be useful. You can ask my excellent travel buddy, Shae. I’d stop us on our adventures to take pictures of buildings. We were outside the grounds for the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and I was like, “No, wait, hold on. I need a picture of that old hospital across the street.”

And, to her credit, she took it like a champ (thanks, Shae!).

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Besides, some of them were castles and that was pretty cool.

So I didn’t write very much. But I did eat a lot, and go to a lot of places, and ride the train,

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Best. Ramen. Ever.

and go to the grocery store, and the pharmacy. I learned they don’t really use deoderant and how to use pictures to identify medicine since I couldn’t read anything. I got to see glimpses of Japanese history, shinto history, and current culture. We got a little lost, sometimes at night, sometimes more than a little, but we always got back on track. We met some awesome people, travelers and locals alike. I can’t wait to return.

 

But, I had to leave eventually. On the way back, with a head full of ideas, I did write. I outlined scenes, I worked on my magic system (which was greatly influenced by Japanese shrines and talismans). I had answered a lot of questions I had been asking and some I didn’t even know to ask.

If I could do it again (and I do plan to go back someday), I still wouldn’t write. I’d be more purposeful in my research and maybe do some outlining when I’m just chillin’ in the hostel. But I don’t think I’d take myself out of the immersive experience of being somewhere I had never been before to put myself in a place I knew better than anyone else–the inside of my imagination.

Next on The Japan Files: The temples we visited and how they helped me scrap my beginning scene!

 

 

Author: JA Goodsell

I write YA fantasy, blog about it, and then take my dog out for therapy. My current manuscript is INNATE, a story of two sisters caught up in a war between the gods. Find me on Twitter at @JAGoodsell or Instagram at books_and_dogs

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