1. It's Hayao Miyazaki, people. I've seen "Ponyo," "Princess Mononoke," "Porco Rosso," "Howl's Moving Castle," "Castle in the Sky," "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind," "The Secret World of Arrietty," "Tales From Earthsea," "From Up On Poppy Hill," "Kiki's Delivery Service," "My Neighbour Totoro," "Whisper of the Heart," "The Cat Returns," and "Spirited Away." They are chock full of fascinating characters and, while often bizarre, conscious of the rhythm of life - not the hurry-scurry of Disney's action-driven films, which have their place, but are not usually realistic.
2. The relationship between Shizuku and Seiji. These two young people face daunting odds. Seiji is bound and determined to become a first-class, world-famous violin-maker. He is driven. He is full of purpose. He has been fighting for this for years. Shizuku, on the other hand, does little besides read voraciously. Her grades are not good. She doesn't have a lot of drive and she has no idea what she wants to do with her life. But when the two realize their mutual passion for each other, Shizuku kicks it into gear and Seiji is determined that not even a two-month trial-run with a violin-maker in Italy, and the possible ten-year apprenticeship after that will break his love for Shizuku. They fight for their relationship. Seiji will support and protect Shizuku in any way he can, and Shizuku will encourage and help Seiji all along the way. Dang and blast it, that is a relationship right there. That is how it is done.
3. The passion and fear in both Seiji and Shizuku. Seiji is a young man who knows what he wants to do with his life and does not look back. By God's providence and my own headlong determination, I am like this. Very few other things call to me. I am not particularly interested in drawing, in music, crafts, etc. I am a writer and I write. That is what I want to do and I am going to do it. But I also appreciated Miyazaki's portrayal of the artist's shyness, self-doubt, and fear in Shizuku when she pours her energy into her very first novel and then stands trembling as she hands it to a friend to read. She is too terrified to stand and watch, but she cannot bear to not have it read immediately. After being told gently that the book is good, but is yet a gem in the rough and will now need many hours of tender polishing, she bursts into tears. She knew that it would need polishing; she was terrified that it would be complete rubbish. She suffered a combined relief and terror and disappointment that the first draft was not perfect which I can readily understand. I've felt it before myself; and I was truly grateful to Miyakazi for capturing the agony and the ecstasy of the artist and depicting it so poignantly.
Talldogs continues to grow at a gentle, steady rate. At a mere 18,900 words it is such a baby thing: I've barely set the stage at this point! My husband and I commiserate over the fate of my protagonist and for the time being Raymond St. Jermaine has become a third member of the household. I feel rather sorry for my husband: people are always coming and going in his house, it isn't always easy to keep them straight; and he is forever greeting and saying adieu to and making tea for and listening to the exploits of people with whom he has only a passing acquaintance. It is just as well that he is such a people-person: he copes very well with the crowd that I bring home.