The Production Dairy were MGW's muses, rambles, and updates on Seishin (Pure Heart) series, concerning details on her story goal and the hiatus.
November 13, 2008: Prologue: The Battle
Prologue: The Battle
"Hello, my name is 'Author'...
"I carry the ambition to follow my method of Doing Things just like my father; but, like my grandfather, landed into the writing world through an unexpected upbringing..."
"Everyone, I am now on my twentieth book! You could say I have been pretty busy. No, not really; truth be told, this will be the first book I will publish. My ninetieth previous books were stuff I made during my childhood – the thousands of lined paper I wasted about kids, dinosaurs, Spitfire planes, wasted along with pencil lead, pen ink and metal staples..."
While I was working on what I call the "pilot chapter" for Intrepid Heart, I only had a few goals. My biggest ambition, what was most important to me when creating this story, was to develop a life-like historical drama about ninja. I would do it to the point that I might add in sexual themes and strong violence, which I hardly do and still thinking over; in other words, a graphic story. It would first be set in the 16th Century where civil war and feudalism becomes a large factor in Japan's history; also, the 16th century Japan is the most familiar Japanese era to me. It is a fictional narrative, but I will be giving out my best interpretations on the ninja and even historical figures such as Kenshin Uesugi based on many stories and theories. Because I am American, I can only go by what I research; it's also my first time doing such a story while my many others are largely fictional.
I call the prologue a "pilot chapter" because it's obviously my first design of this story. It was something that would serve me as a lead in making the story and is not official. In second thought, they are "stories"; my interest is a "chronicle", a collection of short stories in different moments in time, about three ninja families: Iga, Kouga and Fuuma. Perhaps the words "chronicle" and "fiction" are an oxymoron? I also wanted to know, by the time I finished it, how my style of writing would make it look like? Again, it is my first time. This chapter was intentionally short and elusive about what was going on and some of the characters, such as "that man" (and his voice). Through my words, you could obviously tell it was a battle but nothing else was explained. I wanted to make some kind of hook with a little bit of mystery in it; I don't plan to fully explain what happens in the prologue until later as it is. After the chapter, I began working on the Japanese setting a bit better, gathered notes, creating more characters beyond Shoutaro, etc.
And while my sentence structure and grammar is obviously a bother (trust me, I know), I was faced with another problem -- criticism. I don't have a problem with it; what I was criticized about was the first-person bit I put at the start of the chapter and was told that he brings confusion. Maybe it was the transition from first-person to third-person was the problem or it just had no exposition to the chapter and was a waste of text. I had planned to do that every chapter. I had this idea of, instead of myself, the chronicle would be written by an anonymous Author who is the daughter of an ex-Army Ranger. Before every chapter, the "Author" basically expresses her feelings about what a ninja is and what being a warrior is about (or her feelings about whatever the lesson is in each chapter, whether its about friendship, spirit, war, etc). Plus, she tries to compare the ninja with the Army Rangers, because her father was one and they use unconventional tactics. She is American and feels out of place in making such a story. Plus I thought it a bit cute. I actually had a little trouble with this part because I was so focused on the ninja stuff of the story. Should I follow that criticism? Am I taking it too hard? I will admit that I rushed through. On the other hand, I'm told to have potential and it makes me happy since I'm excited about how IH will develop.
November 14, 2008: Ninja Term
The word ninja.
What does everyone think about when they hear that word? The movies? The Japanese? Black garb? Stealth and powerful fighters?
I think even to me the real truth is buried under darkness, just like these guys are. Remember, this is a fictional book, but I will be giving out my best interpretations based on many theories. Because I am American, I can only go by what I research; I first met the ninja via mass media and was entranced by them. Western media truly does reflect the research and old television shows. Many resources say how ninja are employed by a regime to spy against opposition, and how they incorporate stealth and martial arts into brilliant strategies. But, rather than just signing up for the aptitude - fitness test for officers, it felt more like a way of life.
"Hey, can I be a ninja?"
"You got eight weeks to pass,"
And eight weeks later, "hey, we got a new guy." It just feels weird.
This is where I get stuck. Ninja could not possibly be like modern military could they? Were they developed by the feudal lords or were they an independent group that has decided to work for them? I am under the impression that it is the latter idea. Why do I say a “way of life”? Long ago, many wars raged all over Japan as feudal lords took over provinces. Many warriors die during their prime. Because I never fought in real combat before, I feel a bit of disconnection on what being a "warrior" is all about. But, I always felt that they fought for a good cause. This is what inspired my focus on the heart or "seishin".
January 15, 2009: Seishin and Title Change
I'm changing the story's name from Intrepid Heart: This Ninjutsu Chronicle (不敵精神 ~ この忍法年代記, futeki seishin ~ kono ninpou nendaiki) to just Seishin: Ninjutsu Chronicle. It's a bit redundant and Japanese authors like to do these little puns in these titles. Using different Chinese letters, Seishin can still mean "the heart". What I had in mind is 清心, with sei meaning good and pure, and "shin" still meaning "heart" and "spirit/soul". The other seishin, 精神, refers to body and spirit (I will still use it in statistics ). They can still relate.
January 23, 2009: SPOILERS
Okay, excellent. I can finally black out some spoilers. Let's just say there are further things I want to reveal. When you see a black box, just highlight it to see the text. Like this, SPOILER: Made you look?. (it is safe btw).
November 09, 2009: Hiatus
On November 3rd, 2009, I made the decision to put my story on hiatus. After about five chapters, three short ones and two long ones, I've decided that I am not doing very well. Much of time has been spent on research and formulating ideas, and STILL I feel like I have not stepped out of the alpha stage of development. Of course, I have other things to do, life gets in the way, and a year has quickly passed. I also feel like an amateur to partake in such a project, in such an ambition. I mostly do simple, children-like stories. An hour of two of contemplating over this story revolves around some of the following:
- Understanding the ninja, and figuring out a theoretical origin on where they came from
- Understanding samurai
- Character creation
- Understanding the historical world of Japan, especially in 16th century; notable events and years
- Writing notes and collecting pictures for evidence
- Martial Procedures; Way of Living
- Make sure just about everything I learnt connects
- Extrapolate every Japanese thing I learnt into fictional purposes
And I learn something new virtually every time, every time. Now I have all this, plus the difficulty into developing storylines. To be honest, I have little to no idea where I want to take this story since it is my first time trying to write a historical fiction, in Japan. So, I need more time to think over this story more.
November 15, 2009: Surnames and Samurai history
Just some stuff from my research that puzzle me.
It was my initial idea to make the mountain villages of Iga and Koka as communities not regulated by the government, like in the familiar image. And that they existed for many centuries like perhaps around the 900s, and are associated with the Buddhist temples, which have declined in importance. Everyone is harassed by the rough taxation, Buddhist oppression (from the Shogun?), and fighting. In Warring States era, ninja activity became more evident.
Anyways, what I'm getting here is the Mochizuki of Omi Province (where Koka is) and their relationship to the Takeda clan. It seemed that Mochizuki samurai from Shinano Province, prominent property to the Takeda, have moved to the villages of Koka probably in the 1400s. The Mochizuki was a family of many generations, and they continued the fight with the Takeda (thus, the associate of Koga ninja Sasuke Sarutobi with Takeda's retainer, Yukimura Sanada).
Also, surnames are prohibited to those who aren't samurai. This would mean that the ninja would have to be samurai or an alike class. Hattori Hanzo worked with Tokugawa as a retainer as well. So...