Ten-Year Milestones

On May 30, 2009, I posted my first blog entry (note: the link on that page no longer works). Back then, I was writing on blogger, living with my parents (to be fair, I had lived in Japan for three years prior to returning home), and unemployed. None of those things are true now. Nor is it true that blogs are a major “thing” anymore. Several of the people whose blogs I used to follow have gravitated to other platforms or vanished altogether, while a select few still write as regularly as they did in the blog heyday. As for me, I’m somewhere in the middle. If you look at my blog posts, you’ll see that I never published regularly. Some months I posted like a madman, others I wrote nothing. Still, I used to write more, and only recently have I started posting as regularly as I used to.

I passed another milestone on October 22 of this year, which is the day, ten years ago, that I moved to Seattle. I originally stayed with friends for a couple months. I’ve since moved three times. The first two places were houses, the second two were apartments. When I moved here, I was 30, single, and unemployed. Now I’m 40, in a long-term relationship, and a lead at work. We also have a cat.

Some things remain the same. I still haven’t finished the novel I started writing back in 2002 (it changes more than a chameleon changes its colors), and now I’ve started a second one. I’ve been collecting together my best poems for a poetry collection, but so far there’s only the one that I’ve published. I still cover the Seattle International Film Festival (and just celebrated my 10th festival this year).

Anniversaries like these make me reflective of all that has happened in between. It’s amazing to think I have over ten years of memories to sift through for both of these milestones. And how I wouldn’t be speaking of these milestones if I’d lived my life differently, ten years ago.

On Reaching 35

Two days ago, I turned 35. One day ago, I finished reading Mozart: A Life in Letters.  Comparisons to Mozart are bound to end in disappointment, since he accomplished so much in his short life — more in 35 years than most people do in 80, and more brilliantly.  Yet, just as I thought of Jeanne d’Arc when I turned 17 (when she began her crusade against the British), 19 (when she was burned at the stake), and again at 20 (when I reached an age she never reached), I can’t help thinking of Mozart at 35.  Had he lived two months more, I would be thinking of him at 36, but 35 is also when people reach their creative peak.  I don’t know where I read this, and perhaps it’s complete nonsense, but Mozart and creativity go together, since he is the most protean of composers, and perhaps of all artists.  What he did would be akin to a visual artist becoming unsurpassed in painting, sculpture, and architecture; or a writer mastering poetry, novels, short stories, essays, and plays.

I find it interesting to read what I wrote when I turned 30.  Unlike then, I am out of my parents’ house; like then, I am still not published (minus my poetry book).  But I am closer to being published.  Much closer.  I visited my brother and sister-in-law last week and found new resolve in making the publication of my novel my top priority.  Even with SIFF coming up, and all the posts I will be writing about the festival, the novel will be finished this year.  With luck, the search for publishers will also begin in 2014.

Since I already looked back at my accomplishments at 30, I don’t feel I need to at 35.  Instead, I am trying to live more in the moment, while still attempting to peek around the corner and see what my future looks like.  To help with that, I have started meditating once a day.  Only on a few occasions have I not been able to keep up this practice, and whether from this or from signs of spring that are appearing in Seattle — like sun — I am hopeful.  I feel that my thirties will only get better, and that my future struggles will be not be the past struggles of survival, but of thrift.

And, if I live what’s considered a normal lifespan, I have more than half my life to still look forward to — unlike Mozart, who had less than a year.

Digging Up the Past Turns 10 Years Old

10 years ago, Digging Up the Past went to press.  A week later (April 15), the first 99 copies were printed.

I have thought about what to do to mark the anniversary of my only published book.  Originally, I thought to sell it at a reduced price from today through April 15, changing it back on April 16.  That seemed like too much work, especially since the last person to buy a copy did so three years ago, and did it in person.  Also, I only have 12 copies left, five of which I have here in Seattle, and since I have thought about donating a few copies to the library (not only here in Seattle, but also my high school library and the library in the town where I grew up), that doesn’t leave me with many books to sell.  Therefore, I have decided on the following: I will stop selling my poetry book online after April 15.

The collection of poems that make up Digging Up the Past: Poetry from High School (1994-97) are some of the earliest poems that I wrote and are rightfully called juvenilia.  While there are some good poems in there (and at least one that may even be great), this is not something I need to push after 10 years — not after I’ve sold or given away most of my copies — not after I’ve already made back the publishing costs.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t buy a copy from me after April 15, of course.  So long as I have copies available, I can sell them.  Just that after April 15, I will no longer sell them through this blog.  You will no longer be able to click on the “Buy Now” button and deposit money in my PayPal account.  On the other hand, if I have promised you a copy, don’t despair: I still intend on giving one to you.

Much has changed in the last 10 years of my life.  I’ve lived in a foreign land, moved from the East to the West Coast, started this blog, found encouragement for my writing online, joined the wonderful world of Twitter, and almost completed my novel.  The only thing I know for sure is that I plan on publishing more work in the next 10 years than I did in the preceding 10, and when I do, I hope that those of you who read my blog are the first readers of my novels and short stories, the first watchers of my plays, the first admirers of my poetry.