So here I am, taking a stab at book writing and editing. Something I find odd as I could always talk books — the popular authors of the day, the bestseller lists, who Terry Gross was interviewing on Fresh Air — but I wasn’t much of doer when it came to the craft. I was a reluctant reader and a sub-par writer. (For a good laugh, you ought to read my high school papers from English comp and social studies classes…it’s like someone dumped a thousand words into a food processor and let it rip! What a mess I made of grammar, syntax and theory).
Still, for some reason I ended up working at a bunch of spectacular media companies — writing and reporting stints at Travel & Leisure and Entertainment Weekly when I lived in New York City, CNET and Turner Broadcasting when Meg and I relocated to San Francisco. Surprisingly, for the most part I did okay in the field. But those years of strap-hanging and company meetings are behind me.
Most recently, before taking Genmai Books seriously and self-publishing Meg’s Getting Even, we were living in the redwoods of northern California — Meg was involved in healthcare and I was running a small bnb on the banks of a salmon-stuffed river.
But now we’re all about the words and the books. And independence.
Down with the daily grind, I say. Long live Genmai Books!
What about you, Meg? What brings you to this place?
The short version is, I was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. In my early twenties, I moved to New York City on a temporary job assignment and I’ve lived in the USA ever since. My first book, New York Loft Living, written in Japanese and published in Japan, is a memoir that recalls that first year in Manhattan. After getting married, I moved west, enrolled in and graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in psychology. Getting Even is my first English-language book.
The longer story? I started to read to escape the boredom of conformity and expectation I felt growing up female in Japan, inside the high walls of culture and society’s norms. Back then, in the 1970s, Japan was still a man’s society — more so than most advanced countries. Submissiveness and the culture of cute were epidemic, like a plague, among girls and women. No one actually died from it, but surely many suffered psychologically and mentally.
After a job assignment took me to New York City, my relationship to conformity started to change. In America, there’s more tolerance for deviance from the norm; the margins of life open up and allow for options of what is right and wrong. Look at something as simple as time. People live in different time zones, in the same country. My 7 a.m. in California is not my friend’s time in New York, but each is true. Even better, time changes in the summer and winter to fit various lifestyles! It’s not a big deal, I know, but I always thought the concept of time was absolute, and that ever since the Big Bang its absolute nature never changed. I always rushed to catch the 8:15 train no matter how crowded it was, never mind in a mere seven minutes there would be another train. Have you ever seen videos of Japanese train station attendants pushing and squeezing passengers onto the trains? I’ve been there. In my mind, time was absolute, strict, immobile; and something I should obey.
What I learned is there are many opinions and they all work. It depends on what you want and where you are in your life. It wasn’t like thunder striking people and they are frozen in time and space. I discovered that life is a process. Fluid. And that it was okay to be me, regardless of how others thought about things.
The NYC assignment was for two years but I extended my stay and started to work as a freelance writer. I ended up as a “career refugee” for a decade, working as a waitress, as a deputy director for the Japanese National Tourist Office, as a translator for a dot com company, and most recently, as an ICU nurse.
And now I’ve circled back to being a writer. Before I die, I have to check this off my bucket list: to write five books and not give up.
So here I am.