I woke up to an email this morning from my Japanese friend who lives near Tokyo. She and her family came to visit us last Christmas, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She told me to be on the lookout for a box of “Japanese snacks” which she and her children picked out for us. How exciting!
It seems like only yesterday they were all camped out in our den, helping us sort the piles of rice cakes and Japanese candy they brought to share with us. As I’ve been doing some fall cleaning in the past month, I keep finding dozens of origami animals, flowers, and other shapes. They’re everywhere.
When I lived in Japan, “Ohisashi buri desu ne” was a greeting people would say to me if they hadn’t seen me in a while. I guess it’s similar to our English expression of “Long time, no see.” It pretty much sums up how I feel about Japan.
I read recently that author Kate DiCamillo wrote Because of Winn Dixie while she was living in Minnesota and longing for her native Florida. On her website, she says:
I wrote Because of Winn-Dixie during the worst winter on record in Minnesota. I was cold and lonely and homesick for Florida (where I grew up). I couldn’t afford to go home, but I could write a book that took me there.
I think that’s what I’ve been doing lately. I can’t afford to fly to Japan, but I can read about it and write about it. My desire to write fiction has become so strong lately, mostly due to this nagging sense of feeling “homesick” for Japan. I’m trying-trying-trying to carve out some space and time to write these stories that are on my heart. I just wonder if there is a child out there somewhere I’m supposed to reach. I guess I’ll never know unless I try.
It’s so much easier to write in my journal and tell myself I’m too busy to write fiction and send stuff out to agents and editors. That’s scary! And time-consuming! And how can I even know this is what God wants me to do with my time?
Then I read a quote like this, from author Jonathan Rogers, and I shuffle onward:
For me, thatâ€™s what writing is like. All these broken pieces of truth and beauty lying about: how do you begin to put them together into something that is a little truer, a little more beautiful than what we see every day? Stories, when they are told the right way, give us something that is TRUER than everyday life…
Thatâ€™s why stories are so important in a childâ€™s life, and in anyone elseâ€™s. Teaching a child whatâ€™s true and right requires the telling of storiesâ€”Bible stories, histories, family stories, fiction. Itâ€™s fine to tell our children that virtue is good. Itâ€™s better to tell them a story that shows them that virtue is beautiful and desirable. Itâ€™s better still to tell them a story that lets them enter into a life of virtueâ€”that lets them try on virtue for size.
I hope you enjoy a refreshing month of October!