I apologize for not blogging as often as I used to, I am writing. Not a blog, but a book. At last. Actually, by the time you read this I may even be editing.
But I can write all I want. The real question is what you want to read.
The Tesla, the Porsche, or the Leaf?
I have started writing a couple of guide books about my home town, Tokyo. As I bring our triplets whenever we travel, the experiences we have should be useful for other families. Especially if you do not know what to expect from your Tokyo visit. Setting the expectations right is crucial in having a good experience. Technically, the difference between an electric Porsche, a Nissan Leaf, and a Tesla is not that enormous. But your expectations of driving them is not the same.
Should you expect a heffalump?
So what should you expect from my book? Well, I am more ofa Tesla than a Nissan Leaf, and definitely not a Porsche. But I am also interested in people buying my book. So please - tell me what you want to know. I am writing this book
for you, to create something that will be useful when you come to Tokyo. I of course know how confusing the city can be (the houses are numbered in the order they were built). But also how rewarding it can be (our kids went overboard when the koto player at Kani Doraku played the theme song from Tonari no Tottoro).
What should a guidebook be like?
While the Internet has changed travel, it does not seem to have changed guidebooks nearly as much. You still either get listings of what there is to do or semi-literary memoirs. I love reading those though, because I am much the same as you: I know the only way to judge wether something is worth my time and money is the experience of others. So that is what I am focusing on - but not a memoir. Take a normal guidebook and put all the listings of things to do on the Internet (like in this blog). Then you get something like what I am writing today.
How to beat Google Maps
i know (perhaps better than most, since I had to go there with a twin stroller) what a parent needs to know about navigating Tokyo (or the rest of Japan). But it is not useful to have a book that lists every restroom with a changing board. They all have them now. If you need one, you will not want to drag around a book. You will look in Google Maps.
Weighing less than an iPhone
Not that the book I am writing are going to weigh more than Google Maps. An ebook is just a file with formating codes. That is what I am writing. Maybe I will do a paper version in the future.
But for now it is an ebook that you can download and read when you are planning your trip. I will try to include information to help you find places to stay, what to eat, how to figure out where to eat it, and how to find playgrounds for your kids.
Piling words together
Maybe you are not familiar with the process of putting words together so that they form a coherent whole. Most people can write a reasonable document of some 10 pages, corresponding to about 1000 words or so. Here we are talking about something about 50 times as big.
Every writer has their own way of approaching writing, but since I have a background in journalism, I usually start with a first draft that will be about 150 to 200 pages in the old way of counting, something between 60000 and 80000 words. That is a lot of words. But I have written books before, 15 actually, two of them were bestsellers, although that was more luck than anything else. They were all fairly boring.
How to thrash your first draft
But that is only the first draft. It is just my ideas stacked on top of each other. When I get there, it does not have much structure and there is a lot of duplication. So I take off my writers hat and put on that of the editor. Now it is not my book anymore, it could be written by anyone and I have to beat and carve and cut and paste into shape. I did mention that I used to be an editor? Of an old-style paper magazine, no less. I know more about the art of cutting and pasting than most people who start working today will learn in a lifetime.
Ebooks but not Kindle
There is nothing that says an ebook has to be all text. Except Amazon, because they charge extra for books which take a long time to download. Techically speaking you could include pictures as well. But then you have to pay for them. I may include them in non-Amazon versions of the book - you can download ebooks from other stores on the Kindle too, although an iPad with the Kindle app is a better reading platform. We will see how it works out.
I am Wisterian Watertree, recently moved from Bangkok to Tokyo, with a brief visit to Honolulu on the way. I write about travel, especially with our three beautiful kids (two girls and one boy, soon turning six - yes. they are triplets). Travel is education and fun rolled into one, and if you are like me, that is something you want to give to your kids. If you want more tips and want to find out when I will publish something, get it from my email list. If you want to be personal, drop me a note on firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you want general tips, follow me on Twitter @wisterianw.