The Delicatessen That is Explosive Reading   Leave a comment

There are two device investments that i consider the best i’ve ever made. The first is my Macbook pro, which has helped me over the last few years in invaluable ways. The second is my Kindle Keyboard.

Those who know me personally know that I have very strong opinions on certain things about technology and i’m not an early adopter (though I used to be). I didn’t see what all the fuss about tablets was about (I still don’t for the most part) because I didn’t see what need a tablet served when I had (at the time) an iphone and a laptop. I’m sure on one of my blogs I have an epic anti-tablet rant (particularly on the Kindle Fire) that made perfect sense at the time. Since then, I’ve scaled back the degree of vitriol I spew at tablet owners, as I realize that they are ideal for short trips, and also the perfect “mobile immersive” assistant during language learning. Other than that I have no need to play games tapping a screen that would be best dealt with through the proper use of a controller. That said, when I saw the advertisment for the Kindle Keyboard in late 2010, I knew it was what I wanted. The moment I saw some attractive person in a TV ad (or an online ad) slip the device into their back pocket, I was hooked. You see, I had been spending no less than 90 minutes a day commuting to work, and for the longest time I wished I had a reading device. Add to that my “down days” when teaching Japanese where I had hours to kill but couldn’t use the personal computers at the school because people were watching me, meant that the kindle wold have been my salvation. I cannot explain the envy i felt when I saw some industrious young foreigner happily reading on his Kindle Keyboard on the train. When I asked him if he got it locally, he said no, and that he had ordered it from Europe somewhere.

Regardless, as soon as time permitted ( about five months to be exact) I snapped up mine and it has been one of few devices that does almost EXACTLY what it is supposed to do, at all times. It is portable, it has incredible battery life, it looks like real paper yeah? Also, because I got the version of the Kindle pre Kindle Fire, if I want I can put music on there and listen to it while I read (naturally Amazon removed this feature with later models). I’ve always been a book head, and after living in Japan showed me the horrors of having tons of physical books in tiny spaces, I saw why having devices were such an integral part of existence there. In fact, before I had any sort of Kindle device, my escapism for my long commutes were done with a PSP and a Nintendo DS, which I played like crazy on the train.

Anyhoo, i’m talking about this device now because I’m preparing to dive into another writing project, and when I prepare to write something heavy these days, I like to get “writing fuel”. For me, writing fuel is essentially, seeding your mind with lots of good writing, so that your writing is equally good. I can’t explain this process scientifically, but in the last three days I’ve read four books, and I can feel the difference in my writing currently. I was barely slogging through a half written blog post that might forever stay in the draft box a few days ago, and now i’m here gleefully typing away about a device no one will ever buy again. What my kindle has provided for me is the easiest way to fuel my brain in context through the Amazon store. I’ll be working on a project related to Japan so…. i’m reading tons of Japanese novels. But i’m going to branch out into other Asian novels as well, just to get the “vibe of Asia” swimming around my head.

So my device gives me access to books easily and I’m also taking notes as I write. When I read a lot, I get inspired prose for my own projects that pops into my head which I jot down. Reading about familiar places and familiar scenarios (example a drunken romp through Roppongi) and then I get memory triggers, but not just a memory, but a very nuanced one. This is where the “fuel” comes into play. Reading and writing go hand in hand, and honestly I haven’t been reading that much in the last few months. Too burnt out, a bit too wired a bit too much of many things. But at the very least, I’m reading now, and i’m slowly approaching my writing terminal velocity.

I’m not frightened of any sort of book writing process. I find that writing a book is a matter of how visual it is, or how powerfully what you want to write affects you. I wrote a 110 page novella in a week and a half after a very bizarre breakup. I haven’t done that since, but I mean, I was motivated. Now, I find that through reading constantly, you glimpse all these different angles to talk about life and issues. You can spend an entire book that hinges on one premise (if you are that savvy) or you can take someone on a whirlwind journey through a plethora (or should I say panoply?) of circumstances that come to some ultimate end result. But these glimpses and insights and inklings are the things that form a story, and currently I have a basic framework figured out and i’m letting inspiration flow. I’m not sure if I’m going to write a “Tokyo love story” book. I mean, what is that anyway? I wrote a book set in D.C, and I made notes for one set in Tokyo. But now with my experience battling a few manuscripts from a naive perspective and then doing it again with my current level of *cough* age and a wisdom *end cough* I can see how intricately I can weave a new tale. In Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken I wrote frankly about the lives of three men struggling with various issues. Did I take it to the darkest point possible for each of them? Perhaps not. But I knew that in writing the book I took liberties in my writing and expression that I wouldn’t have done with a manuscript say, six years ago. The first chapter opens with a man having sex with a girl in a closet at a party, and I doubt I could have the balls to do that six years ago. I mean, i’d be worried about who was reading it and why and spinning all these notions around in my head and blah blah blah. Then, I read a few novels and see these very delicate ways authors write about freaky sexual things hidden within the folds of a gripping major story and I applaud. I applaud because a lot of writing is reality and the closer you get to putting your personal reality out there (at least a reality you are comfortable with) the more fun and fulfilling the process becomes. At least that’s what I think. So with my kindle and my rapid reading of books i’m trying to create momentum to engineer fun in writing, with the knowledge that i’m going to take it somewhere I haven’t yet. Tokyo is a big, fun city. Or a big, dark, city. Or a depressing city, or enlightening, or whatever. It is many things to many people. The point is… what is my perspective, and how do I convey that realistically on the written page? Maybe after a few more books i’ll see… but until then i’m gonna curl up with my kindle and get lost in Asia a few more times.

Posted October 7, 2013 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

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