CH 11 VALIDATION (Hanako)
When people ask Hanako what she’s doing in Japan, she says, “I’m a writer.”
“You mean, you get paid to write? That’s amazing.”
“Sometimes I get paid to write…mostly I write in the hope of getting paid.”
And Hanako isn’t sure sometimes if that’s an “oh” interchangeable with a “wow” or an “oh” that’s impressed by the sheer irresponsibility of what she has professed, or if the “oh” is more like an “oh” punctuated with a life-force-stopping-period as in; “so what you’re really saying is, you don’t do anything”.
“So, what is it that you write?”
“Novels,” she says. “Beach reads. Romances, love stories.” The kinds of stories Hanako herself lost herself in. Stories about relationship, roots, finding one’s identity. Why did she sort-of mumble this, as though it were something to be ashamed of? She supposed it was because her response didn’t have the impressive ring that an answer like, “I’m writing a true story about a girl growing up with a lesbian mother,” or, “I'm conducting research on the effects of drone warfare on soldiers,” might invoke.
“The demand for your genre is down right now,” her literary agent had said kindly before her move to Tokyo. In her bleaker moments, Hanako reinterpreted that to mean, “no one gives a shit about what you’ve written right now.”
Hanako had written two novels, and a half of a memoir in two years. Both finished books were represented, and she told herself that this meant people out there, might eventually--give a shit.
But what if they didn’t? And what if those fancy editors behind their impenetrable inboxes decided no one would?
Still, there was nothing else Hanako wanted.
Even now, she could remember the feel of her very first diary in her seven-year-old hands. The diary had a white, puffy, plastic cover with dainty pink ballet slippers on the front. The blue, yellow and purple-lined pages beckoning, to divest her thoughts; the tiny silver lock a promise, that the words captured within were precious and treasured. Maybe she was too shy to share her thoughts out here, but within those rainbow pages, Hanako was brave. She was true.
Oh. Hanako thinks, the truth dawning on her like a misty, summer sunrise. Oh.
Publication was not the goal. It wasn’t the book deals she wanted after all. It was what the book deals represented. Connection. Affirmation. It wasn’t validation as a writer that she sought. It was validation as a person. Love me! Hanako whispered into the universe with each click of the keys. Want to know my innermost thoughts, tell me I am precious and treasured, tell me that I matter!