How I Write – Naoko Fujimoto


When/how/where do you write?

My very first drafts are hand-written in mixed languages of English and Japanese in my favorite notebook. My current notebook is from a local bazaar in Jaipur, India— I negotiated hard to purchase it. I was so proud to spent just a couple of dollars after the shop owner tried to sell it for a ridiculously high price. I may be a typical, business driven Japanese woman, but my handwriting has to be exceptionally neat. My grandmother is a Japanese calligrapher, so I grew up under very strict hand writing circumstances— it was just like the training scenes from “The Karate Kid”, but with a brush and traditional ink.

English is my second language. After I finish writing one piece in English, I ask my husband to proofread it. That will usually lead to our midnight poetry/grammar battle. For example, I can skip a “sentence subject” with Japanese grammar rules. However, in English, I cannot skip a “sentence subject”. Otherwise, readers will be confused as to what I exactly want to convey. I often have conflicts with English grammar rules because I think that words will flow more musically and beautifully by writing outside of them. But I also understand that there is a fine line between grammatical acceptability and holy moly Naokoish-Japanglish creative writing.

I work in the Japanese precision machine tool industry as a full time inside-sales associate, so it has been challenging for me to find decent time during week days to write. I scribble sentences into my notebook when they come to me, and I type a complete piece during the weekend. I used to complain about how horrible I was in a non-academic/artistic community— the first lunch discussion I had at my work was how Kim Kardashian was like a beluga whale— now I really enjoy noticing how many people inspire me in unexpected and fantastic ways.

Do you eat while you write? If so, what?

I do not eat much, but I drink— I drink bourbon on the rocks— not really— but I do drink cup after cup of hot water. I have my personal Bermuda Triangle between my red kettle, toilet bowl, and computer. My husband and cat constantly disappear in the middle. Because of my office work, I often receive wonderful treats from all over the world. My current snack is Brazilian hazelnut chocolates, delicious!

Do you play music while you write? If so, what?

I do not listen to anything while I write. However, I can hear my husband watching baseball games or listening to his death metal music. I shut the door and lock my cat out with him— those two are best buddies anyway.

What are you reading right now?

“Dear Almost” by Matthew Thorburn, “White Stockings” by Lina Ramona Vitkauskas, Haruki Murakami’s recent publications in Japanese, and occasional technical drawings and instructions.

Naoko Fujimoto was born and raised in Japan. She was an exchange student and received a B.A. and M.A. from Indiana University South Bend. Her recent publications are in Prairie Schooner, Cimmaron Review, Juked, and many other journals. Her first poetry chapbook, "Home, No Home", was recently published by Educe Press.