The second Sunday of the rest of my life 1.2

I’ve made two new resolutions seeing as my January plans have all drifted away:

1. I’m not going to join a sports club. I have confidence on this one as I’ve never yet joined a sports club.

2. I’m going to blog every Sunday for a year. Now this one is gonna take some sweat (perhaps even more than the sports club!!)

So, I’ve been working with a Japanese publisher for almost a year now. Perhaps the best thing I can say about my performance thus far is that I’ve yet to be thrown onto the heap of discarded, urusai (loud and obnoxious) foreigners who have not been successful working on Japanese text-writing teams. In fact, there are only two kinds of foreigners in Japan – Easy gaijin (foreigner) and difficult gaijin. I went in with my eyes wide open, and up for the challenge of being useful and harmonious.

I’m sure that my first meeting was the most difficult because even with the best of intentions (to sit and be quiet) I found myself being the first of the ten of us to speak up – and that was after a grueling minute or so of tempered silence in which the Japanese Wa wafted throughout the room. I hope I’m not sounding too facetious because after 5 meetings, I’ve really come to like the group of varied personalities and the array of valuable perspectives. I hope they like me as much as I like them…

Anyways, I’ve edited the first 6 chapters of the first Ko I (grade 10) textbook and am currently procrastinating on the 7th chapter which is due within the next 24 hours. It is a very interesting process which seems at times a cross between the rubik’s cube and sudoku.

As far as my contribution, I’m given one long story for each lesson that has been cut into 4 – 5 parts and then I’m required to do 4 things:

1. Edit for readability and naturalness

2. Edit for word count and average sentence length

3. Edit out difficult words and phrases for equally meaningful easier words and phrases

4. Add in GPOD (grammatical patterns on demand)

So which of these do you imagine causes the most gray hair?

I’ll answer next week, unless I get any comments before then!



6 thoughts on “The second Sunday of the rest of my life 1.2

  1. 2 and 3 look straightforward enough, but once you start messing with 4, 1 goes out the window! And then once you do 3, 2 increases… I think I’d stick to the sudoko, Steve, I smashed my Rubik’s Cube years ago!

  2. Well said, Colin. I forgot to mention that I suck at both Sudoku and the Rubik’s cube. After editing the first 4 lessons, we had a five hour meeting to go over them. I was AMAZED at what 10 people can do to a text. Writing by committee is never a good idea, but somehow I left the meeting feeling like improvements won handily over destruction of innocent words and sentences.

    What’s your blog? With your sense of language, I’d love to point people towards your writing.


  3. 10 people!!! I AM amazed…that you’ve gotten to Chapter 7. Even a group a third that size would have enough challenges to come to an agreement. Your enthusiasm and positive energy would surely have helped sway a good majority of the committee to follow your lead.
    Good luck with the rest of the book. I’ll stick to the sudoku, as the stickers on my Rubik’s cube have been switched around too often to know where they should be.

    • Thanks Mr. Z,

      It’s always a pleasure to interact with you in person or online. As for the publisher meetings, I’m not quite sure who’s swaying who in the journey to the perfect GT lesson. I’ll know more by the end of the project and write more as I learn more.

      Just focusing on being useful and NOT being discarded.

      How about you? What’s new on your end?

  4. Sounds like you’re experiencing something very special Steve. I envy your Japanese proficiency. Mine isn’t up to a task like this.
    Just curious, who writes the original text that you edit?
    By the way I’ve subscribed to your blog and put a link to it on my blog.

    • Always great to discuss anything with you, Michael.

      The text is put together by a Japanese editor. I say put together because we all originally brainstormed topics, sent them in, and whittled them down from 50 to 10.

      Then the Japanese pieces are translated into English, and edited by me. Then we take the quasi-finished lesson back to the big team of 10 teachers and work through grammatical, lexical, and degree of difficulty problems. It takes a lot longer than I thought.

      Back at it this Saturday – but the snacks they provide are always scrumptious.



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