On Wednesday, my mom and I drove to Detroit's Renaissance Center in order to visit the Japanese Consulate where my visa could be gotten. Apparently this usually takes a while to happen, several days at least, but I managed to get mine rather easily, I think because the guy who was working the visa window felt bad that I'd driven four hours to process my papers instead of sending them through the mail. But I'm on a deadline here, and felt more confident in taking my stuff there in person rather than allowing the mail to deliver it, and then wait who knows how long for the visa to be processed. So the visa man was nice and it only took him the morning and part of the afternoon to make my visa. In the between hours, my mom and I wandered the Renaissance Center, which is sort of out of a science fiction novel from the fifties maybe, with a central tower and four other spoked around it. Circular glass bridges lit up green with lights on the inside. Lots of restaurants and odd little stores inside, alongside governmental places and corporate doings. I half expected to see klingons. They should really have a Worldcon at the Renaissance Center. There's even a hotel inside.
We also wandered around downtown Detroit a bit, which seemed dead really, and reminded me a bit of Youngstown's downtown, only bigger. They had a Borders, and we stopped in for a bit, where I bought Alice Hoffman's new book, Blackbird House. I'm a sucker for stories about houses, and this one is set in the same house for a century or so, looking at various inhabitants of it over the years, and the book is pretty, and Alice Hoffman is a good writer mostly, and I think she would probably be nice in person. She gives profits from books to charities occassionally, which is so cool. I hope I make enough money off books someday that I can just say, Oh what the heck, I'll just donate the profits of this book to such and such a charity.
After we got the visa from the nice man who broke protocol and made it for me within the day, we drove home again, and then I purchased a ticket to fly to Japan on August 19th. Just a couple of weeks around the corner. So now it's all very real. For the past few weeks, my emotions have been swinging back and forth like a pendulum. I'm excited to go, but I'm also sad to leave my family and friends behind for so long. But it feels right, going, so I try to focus on that feeling rather than all the what-ifs that cross my mind. It's a sort of crossroads in my life right now, and I feel like leaving everything I know is probably a good decision. It'll test who I am in more ways than I've ever figured out how to devise on my own, which are a lot of ways actually, but even so, placing myself in a culture that's completely alien to me (and not even really one of the cultures I've romanticized in my imagination) will test me in ways I wouldn't have been able to conceive of.
Plugging away on the new novel. I'm about sixty page in, and I still like it and it still feels like it keeps opening up into bigger areas and more places to explore and whatnot, so I know it's a real novel and not just a long story. That opening up feeling is the feeling I got when the first novel became a real novel, so that's what I'm using now to recognize and strategize various structures in the telling of that particular form. It's different from writing a short story, which feels closed off and hermetic to me, like a glass globe with a miniature world inside it. Short stories seem to exist in those enclosed spaces, whereas novels seem to keep opening, like a flower blooming, petal after petal.
Other than that, I'm reading the new Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, which has a great selection of stories this year.