LIFE WITH DEADLINES


Machiko Kusahara

Life with deadlines..... sounds terrible. But it is the way it goes.

The first serious essay of my life won the first prize at a competition when I was a high school student. I applied because I needed money to buy books. I used to read a lot. I was awarded twice from the school library when I was a junior high school student. Once because of the outstanding number of books I borrowed from the library in three years. The other one was a joke - they found that I borrowed a book that noone else had borrowed ever.

Then I started translating. Sometimes on computers and networks, sometimes other subjects. As an undergraduate student I already had a book published with my name on as one of the translators. Still I had never imagined that writing would be a part of my life, until I started writing regulary for a major paper in marketting business as a freelance writer in the spring of 1984. By that time I had a job in computer graphics, but I had some experience in marketing before.

Deadline came every week. On every Saturday noon a motorcycle would stop in front of my door, to collect the article. I was hand-writing then. (We never had a typewriter for personal use for Japanese language.) Rewriting and rewriting until the last moment, expecting the door bell to ring at any moment.... not a very healthy way of life. One might have a stomach ache.

Then I bought a FAX machine. I told my editor not to send a motorcycle rider to my door. I would send the article to the editor by FAX by the end of Saturday afternoon. So they saved money and I saved several hours. The best thing about it was that I didn't have to be afraid of the door bell any more.

Then I bought my own personal computer with a word processing software. It was 1985. Now I could easily edit a text and print the final version on folded paper with a noisy dot impact printer.@That was the only possibility then. It gave the great impression of printing, but was unable to print on the bunch of official form paper supplied from the newspaper company. My editor had to ask his boss if they would accept computer prints. Noone had asked before. The boss said O.K. So I could save another several hours in editing and rewriting. They saved their paper.

I still write. Not a weekly column, but for monthly or quarterly publications. It's better for my stomach. Another major change is that most editors use Internet now. My writings go directly from my computer to the editor's, internationally. What a difference, from the days of pen and ink and motorcycles.
But I still have deadlines.

So, here are some of my writings - abstracts and essays in English. (Unfortunately most of my writings are in Japanese.) If you like them you can either come to my lecture, or invite me to speak in your town!

Machiko Kusahara
Curator / researcher