Daily Archives: May 5, 2011

Jamie Goes Commando

No, not that type of commando.

Well, not at the moment, anyway….

I’m afraid the Japanese story is beginning to wear on me — too much research and cultural nitpicking — so I think I’ll have to take a break from it.  Usually, after I go through my “Japanese Phase,” I segue into a “Cyberpunk Phase.”  This is due, in large part, to psychological associations between Japanese culture and Cyberpunk fiction.  If you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, check out William Gibson, the novel “Snowcrash,” the film “Bladerunner” and about a hundred other references, including a bunch of Anime.

But somewhere wedged in between Japanese culture and cyberpunk, I often wander into high-tech Special Ops military fiction.  This is probably the fault of Tom Clancy, especially in his NetForce series.  And of course, the recent Navy SEAL attack on the Osama bin Laden compound didn’t hurt either.  (I won’t get my opinions on that issue here — I’m trying to keep this blog restricted to writing.)

So, getting back to writing, this means I’ll probably do one of two things:  1) Pick up Eastside-84, my ailing YA dystopian novel, again and try once more to fix the issues beta readers have been having with it, or 2) Continue with the next installment of The Dogs of Cyberwar.  The first installment is still in limbo, waiting for a response from the publisher I submitted it to.  I have to admit, I’m a bit concerned that a rejection letter on that one could derail any new installment I happen to be working on.  Not permanently — there are plenty of other publishers to submit to — but it might cause things to shut down for a while.

What I’ll probably do is pick up Eastside-84 and work on fixing that one (I have a few ideas what to do with it), while I start outlining the sequel to The Dogs of Cyberwar.

I also need to think of a title for the series….

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How to address a samurai without him cutting you in half

I think I finally figured out that commoners in feudal Japan would not call a samurai by his last name, followed by –sama, or tono, which means “lord.”  Tono is more for actual lords, and so is –sama.  According to people I’ve spoken to who know some Japanese, as well as Akira Kurosawa (who may or may not have known what he was doing in all of his historical films), a samurai would be addressed as <name>-san, or by the term sensei (teacher, but also other figures of authority). 

Sensei can be used sarcastically to ridicule someone who’s too full of himself, but I suspect that usage may be modern.  In any case, anyone addressing a samurai like that had better be of equal or higher rank, if he wanted to survive the experience.

Shinosuke is now approaching 14,000 words, which was my goal for the story, but considering the fact that the romance has only progressed to the point at which Senpachi and Shinosuke have had their first kiss, I think the story may go on a bit longer than I originally intended.  Not bad, considering it’s being adapted from a story about 500 words long, to begin with. 

Incidentally, tracking down the original story, to verify that it wasn’t a modern fabrication, posing as an old samurai tale, was a bitch.  I finally found it in a book called Comrade Loves of the Samurai  by Ihara Saikaku, translated by E. Powys Mathers.  It was written in the mid-1600s, so I’m pretty safely out of copyright.  Even the translation was done in the 1920s, if I recall, but it hardly matters, since I’m not directly quoting anything.

So far, I’ve spent about a month and a half on this, which is longer than I’ve spent on the first draft of any story of this length.  Is it worth it?  I’m not sure yet.  It hasn’t gripped me and carried me away, which could be a bad sign.  But it’s often in the second draft, when I add the details and flesh the characters out that a story really comes alive.  So we’ll see.

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Filed under Japanese, Writing