I enjoy finding a new word. Today I found Hikikomori. It comes from Lawrence Pearce in his post to get votes on which title to use for his book. I know agoraphobia is also a fear of the outside world, people tend to shut themselves in because they don’t want to be out in the open, exposed.

Note: Hikikomori is a Japanese term describing those who never set foot outside of their own homes or even bedrooms. One of the main characters is an Hikikomori.

Could you write about a Hikikomori? Where would the story begin? Could they find some peace, a solution, a way out of themselves? What do you think about this social sort of fear yourself? Are they too self-involved? Could this ever happen to you? Has it? (If you stay home a week, not going out for any reason, would you still be able to step out after a week of being sheltered, safe in your home environment, and not feel even a little self conscious about putting yourself out there – for the whole world to see)?

Other Resources:

Wikipedia: Hikikomori – a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive people who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement because of various personal and social factors in their lives.

HubPages: The Hikikomori Phenomenon

Hiki Culture – Forum for reclusive people.

NY Times: Shutting Themselves In

Michael Zielenziger: The Story Behind Shutting out the Sun

Here I was living in a country that was still so prosperous, where the gap between rich and poor was far narrower than in the United States, where fewer homeless and destitute line the streets than in New York or San Francisco, Yet I found that:

  • more than one million young adults shut themselves in their rooms for years as a time. These adolescents and adults, known as “hikikomori”, withdraw from societies for months or years at a time, not going to class, not working, not even leaving their homes, and often not even abandoning their rooms. These recluses become wholly dependent on their mothers to feed them.
  • three times as many people die each year in suicides than in car accidents. Japan’s male suicide rate in particular had exploded and become the highest in the wealthy, industrial world.
  • Japanese women have systematically chosen not to marry and bear children. Today Japan has the lowest birthrate in the world. And beginning in 2005, Japan’s population began to shrink in absolute terms, as more deaths than births were recorded. Within fifteen years, one in every nine Japanese will be over age 80.
  • Half of all unmarried men 18 to 34 tell government census takers that they have no casual companionship, friendship and certainly no regular sexual relationship with a female. 40 percent of all women are also equally lonely.

Fear of Writing

“Fear of failure is the reason most often cited to explain why so many aspiring writers never realize their dreams. But I think it’s that same fear of failure that absolutely invigorates those who do push through—that is, the fear of not being heard.” – Betsy Lerner

“Inspiration doesn’t descend like a lightning bolt from the gods. Inspiration comes instead from a steady breath, a solid foundation, and a commitment to the process.” – Laraine Herring

“Perfectionism is the belief that what you write is never good enough. It is another form of being blocked. Perfectionists are afraid of risks, and if you don’t learn to take risk in your writing, you won’t grow as a writer.” – Rachel Ballon, Ph.D.

“Don’t feel guilty about being afraid of the blank page. Don’t think you aren’t a writer if you don’t rush to the computer first thing when you get up in the morning in order to face the empty page. Writing is hard work. Filling up an empty page with your thoughts, your pains, your joys, and your creative ideas takes immense courage.” – Rachel Ballon, Ph.D.

“There is always the risk that you may disappoint yourself. That risk is there even for productive writers, as most writers don’t write as often as they would like. Because of this reality, you will need to practice self-forgiveness.” – Eric Maisel

“The writing life is defined by the succession of choices you make, primary among them whether or not you will write. You honor your writing space by entering it with this mantra: ‘I am ready to work.’ You enter, grow quiet, and vanish into your writing.” – Eric Maisel

These come from Musings of a Novelista.

Shirley Jackson Says…

“So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you.”
— Shirley Jackson 

“I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there.”
— Shirley Jackson

Today for the A-Z Blog Challenge it is J for Shirley Jackson.

“Eleanor looked up, surprised; the little girl was sliding back in her chair, sullenly refusing her milk, while her father frowned and her brother giggled and her mother said calmly, ‘She wants her cup of stars.’

Indeed yes, Eleanor thought; indeed, so do I; a cup of stars, of course.

‘Her little cup,’ the mother was explaining, smiling apologetically at the waitress, who was thunderstruck at the thought that the mill’s good country milk was not rich enough for the little girl. ‘It has stars in the bottom, and she always drinks her milk from it at home. She calls it her cup of stars because she can see the stars while she drinks her milk.’ The waitress nodded, unconvinced, and the mother told the little girl, ‘You’ll have your milk from your cup of stars tonight when we get home. But just for now, just to be a very good little girl, will you take a little milk from this glass?’

Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.”
— Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House)

Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories (The Lottery / The Haunting of Hill House / We Have Always Lived in the Castle)

Write About What Squicks You

Think of something you really do fear, something that squicks you every time. Create a concept for a horror movie around it. Have a villain that would scare people when they see it in a movie poster for your movie. Give your movie idea a beginning, middle and then decide on what kind of ending it will have. Will it trail off and leave a question of more to follow? Will it end well, a happily ever after or does it end badly, leaving no hope?

Knives, sharp things and cutting of skin squick me. I don’t know why, but I feel a shudder inside when I see people playing with sharp things or a TV show where surgery is demonstrated. I’d make my horror about a knife throwing act in a circus, or a couple who perform as magicians for parties. Something happens and they realize they can’t trust each other. Or, the hand of the knife thrower isn’t as steady as it once was when they were younger. Something that changes the original situation and makes every throw of the knife a risk. My ending would be something blunt and final. The movie poster would show the knife thrower as the villian, his eyes focused ahead of him and his hand ready to throw a knife but with sweat on his brow, making him seem determined and not very caring about making a mis-throw.

Letters Never to Be Posted

At the site Unposted Letters the idea is to write a letter the way you really want to write it but don’t send it to the addressee.

The Unposted Letters Project is a safe place to speak without fear, criticism or consequence. No one will interrupt or judge. It is a place where we can expose all of our feelings and thoughts about anyone, or about ourselves. Whether it’s been positive or negative, we can tell someone what they have meant to our life. This is an opportunity to create your own unique page to silently say anything to anyone, in a book that will shout it out loud.

What have you left unsaid, unwritten? Think of someone you would like to have a chance to say something at a time when you knew they would actually listen. In life we can not really talk and listen at the same time. All too often everyone seems to be talking and no one is listening. Everyone wants to be heard but they don’t stop talking long enough to hear someone else.

I’d like to write a letter to my Grandparents (one each cause I have different things to say to each of them and different ways of saying the same thing as well). I’d like to write to Great Aunts who are gone, were already old women when I knew them. I’d like to tell them all kinds of good things because people seem (to me) to focus far too much on negative things that might never happen.

I’d like to write a letter to my nephew and nieces, though they are all still here and I will even be seeing them later today. There are so many things I can tell them. Things they are not ready to hear, not mature enough, not experienced enough and the ironic thing is that when they are ready to hear them they will already know them, will have lived my old experiences themselves. Life is funny like that. It just keeps on going until it’s over.

The Slant of the News

I stopped listening to the news a long time ago. If you listen too much it feels like there is no hope at all. Another woman missing, another woman found murdered, another woman shot in the head by her boyfriend/ husband. If you listen to all of that who would you ever trust, you’d become paranoid and live like a hermit with far too many cats and your groceries being delivered – but just to the fence, not to the door itself!

The economic stuff aside, the violence and aggressiveness is what really worries me. So, I’ve just stopped listening to it. Once you stop listening to the news you remember what life was like when your world was more about your neighbours than the world at large. You focus on what the people you can help everyday are doing and what they need. Everything looks much better when you deal with what is in front of you instead of looking at the world – as reported by the news mongers who want to sell papers after all. Newspapers aren’t exactly out there to report world peace and good will to all men. They make money by selling us fear, thrills and chills.

If you listen to the news you have to keep in mind that you are getting a warped version of the world. Sex, fear and violence sell far better than the kid who found their lost puppy. They save the nice news for somewhere inside the paper. Good news seldom makes page one.

My comment as posted to Ken’s Writing blog. A post about dealing with too much negative news.

Is Focusing your Creativity Important?

Is focusing your creativity important? You would think that was a simple question with a simple answer. Of course focusing on what you are doing will work in your favour. But, what if you are too focused, too intense. What if you have practiced and focused the life right out of your art? Technically perfect, but missing the passion and the individuality of being just a bit imperfect.

Deanna at Ululating Undulating Ungulate (Paraphrased from her original post):

Art does not require perfection. So-called mistakes, even those acknowledged by the artist, do not hurt anyone. But more importantly, creativity is about expression — and the joy of creating.

I think one of the problems people have creating things is this fear of not being perfect. It holds us back, keeps us from expressing ourselves, keeps us from the joy of making.

I think you should focus on being creative, not so much on the end result — or it’s meeting the standards of others. Just focus on the expression and the joy of making something.

Bugs Made me do It

I posted this to my Facebook status tonight:

I was going to get to bed, before 3:AM even, but there is a really big flying bug in my room now. He is hiding out behind my books on the shelves. But I just know it will come out to attack as soon as I am in bed and have the light turned off. It’s just lurking now. But, if I stay up late it will get bored and fall asleep. Then, I might be safe.

What was the last thing a bug made you do? Or have you no fear and just go around squishing bugs like are made of chocolate and taste really good on ice cream?