As Rosh Hashana draws near, literally hours away, and I have yet to finish this article, it occurred to me that there are many things that I have to finish, things which I began or planned to begin which never have come to fruition due to time constraints or, more likely, my own personal disorganization. Here are but a few of them.

I’m not sure exactly when it was that I first started thinking about learning Japanese to the level of moderate conversational ability. I think it could have been when I was in high school and started watching the original animated video series, “Oh! My Goddess!” It was the first of many Japanese animated television programs that I would come to watch both on video and DVD. I started trying to learn the language by getting simple textbooks, then the occasional audio tape. I expanded by getting certain dictionaries, phrase books, and other such books. None of this compelled me to actually learn the language. I even took a couple of lessons when I was in high school, though my guidance counselor didn’t allow me to continue as he felt I was overwhelmed with work as it was.

Even as late as a couple of years ago, in the spring of 2002, I continued the bold fight to try to learn Japanese. I got a complicated set of CDs and a book for intensive studied. You could say that I had everything that I needed to learn Japanese except for the motivation to sit down for an hour a night to do it. I think, more than anything, this is what all of these unfinished things have in common – I put them off, and put them off again, until there is no time left to put them off any longer and I do less than a wholehearted job in the performance, and I am left feeling overwhelmingly horrendous in how I did.

Lately, I have been giving some thought to the possibility of teaching English in Japan. While I have been told explicitly by many that it is not necessary to actually be able to speak or understand Japanese to teach English in Japan, I would imagine that just everyday living would be considerably easier if I had some knowledge of it. I therefore feel some impetus to push me into actively learning Japanese. Granted, I am pretty sure things would be a lot easier if I had a tutor, but the search for a tutor has been far from easy and my present schedule is nearly impossible to work with for those who are not superbly flexible.

The Novels
For over three years I have been working on a novel, which started getting put online here at Go Inside Magazine with the purpose of compelling me to further write it. In November of 2002 I undertook the challenge known as the National Novel Writing Month, which takes place once a year during November. The challege presented is to write a novel-length work (defined there as 50,000 words) during the month of November, from the first word to the last, without writing any of it beforehand other than outlines and the like. I had a few ideas, and at the time I was living in Highland Park in the basement of a house. I was severely depressed and usually didn’t wake up until around one or so in the afternoon. Sadly, I didn’t make it to fifty thousand words, however I did have a carefully crafted piece of writing which followed my first novel superbly – at least what I had planned for my first novel.

I’m not entirely sure how this novel is supposed to end, and to be honest, it’s just one scene that I’m stuck on that is making me not be able to move on any further. Could I be any more pathetic? I should be writing the rest of the novel and letting this one short scene come to me, but instead I’m trying to work out exactly what happens. I have to have some confidence that it will eventually come to me, or I will just have to work around it at some point. After the Jewish New Year, in any case.

Upright Citizen’s Brigade Improvisation Classes
For the last year or so I have been attending shows at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, which is on 26th Street on the West Side. With each show that I attend, I become more convinced that I should attend introductory improvisation classes at UCBT. They teach, in the more advanced classes, an improvisation technique known as the “Harold”, which is a long form improvisation technique based on one idea submitted by the audience. I have been wanting to attend classes but have been thus far putting it off due to the costs involved with attending classes. What is a person to do? A person, hopefully me, is to save up a little money and then just do it one day. New classes start regularly, it’s just a matter of setting aside a few hours per week, once per week, for approximately eight weeks, to studying this wonderful art. It surely would be worth it.

The common unifier, as mentioned above, between these three things is not my inability to do them, but my procrastination. It’s not that I can’t learn Japanese, but perhaps I am afraid that I find it to be stressful and difficult, so I put it off. There is nothing stopping me from finishing my novel other than me – why is that? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I am unsure of the publication route I would like to take – do I try to get an agent, go directly to try for a commercial publisher, or do as Christopher Baldwin of Bruno fame did and just publish it myself? And lastly, what is really stopping me from taking the improv classes? Is it the money? Of course it isn’t. More likely, it’s also a fear of having people think that I’m not funny, or even worse, an idiot. Such fears are there to overcome. Just something to look forward to in the New Year.