David Chart's Japan Diary

February 7th 2006

We've had a bit more snow here, but this morning it turned to rain and has now mostly cleared. Fortunately, the snow a couple of weeks ago was largely cleared before my books arrived. They were a bit early, which was good, as it meant the caretaker was still around and I could borrow her trolley. Unloading the boxes from the truck and stacking them outside the flats took the best part of an hour; the driver passed me boxes from the crate, and I put them down. Then I loaded them onto the trolley, and took them up to the flat. It took ten journeys, which ended with all the books stacked in the passage outside our front door. They were made simpler by the caretaker setting the automatic entrace door to stay open; that saved a lot of hassle, and I was able to return the trolley before the caretaker went home.

Moving the boxes from a pile outside the flat to a pile inside the flat took another hour or so. This was an important milestone; at that point, the urgency dropped significantly. However, there were 52 boxes piled up in our living room, making it rather uninhabitable. So, I started unpacking books and putting them into bookshelves.

That took the rest of the day, and into the night. By the end it was clear that there wasn't quite enough space on the shelves, although it was close. My CDs and DVDs need to go elsewhere (we've ordered a chest of drawers for them), but all but one box of books fitted. Of course, that didn't leave any space for new books. So, the following day, I spent the whole morning doing some reorganising, putting five boxes of books into the cupboard in the office, and making some space. I still want to put one more box in there, I think, but that will have to wait until I can do some more organisation, and I've not had time.

Work has not been going as well as it should. The teaching side of things is going fine, although I could still do with a couple more students. If all of my current students want their lessons, then I have the number of hours in a week that I want. However, they cancel occasionally, for good reasons, and they don't all want lessons every week. Thus, I need a couple more students to make sure that I always earn as much as I spend. Still, I'm very close to where I want to be, and the lessons themselves seem to be going well.

The week before last, Ars Magica editing was having problems; a book in process wasn't working, and we were having trouble figuring out how to make it work. That took up quite a lot of time, and still wasn't resolved by last Tuesday, although it was looking promising. Writing had ground to a complete halt, partly due to exhaustion, and partly due to pressures of other work. So, I moaned about it in my Japanese diary.

That seemed to work. Teaching has continued to go well, and I think we've solved the editing problem. I also managed to do 'long term average' amounts of writing; 1500 words per day. That would be great, if I didn't need to be doing nearer 3000 words per day at the moment. Still, it is definitely doing a lot better than it was last week, so maybe complaining about it again will make things go even better this week.

I've not been able to take any days off this week, as producing the necessary number of words has taken far too many hours. I did, however, manage to take some time off and spend a bit of leisure time with my wife. On Sunday, we went to a karaoke place. This was the standard Japanese set-up, where your group gets its own private room, so I only had to embarrass myself in front of Yuriko. Karaoke, in the 'singing with friends' version, is actually a lot of fun; since the karaoke place is within walking distance of here, we will probably go again.

Yesterday, we went into Tokyo to have dinner with one of Yuriko's friends, a Japanese woman married to an American. She's about to go to California, to live in the desert, because her husband has been transferred for work. We went to an Italian place near Shibuya, and the food was very nice. I even got a bonus dessert, because I wasn't having a tea or coffee. (Yes, I ate two desserts. No, there is no photographic proof.) We chatted about living in different countries, interational marriage, and bits of politics.

So, I should get back to work now. I've cleared all the editing things I need to do today, which means that I have to get on with the writing. For some reason, writing this book really feels like getting blood out of a stone at the moment. On the other hand, I have a sneaking suspicion that they all feel like that at some point. Writing books simply involves hard work...