One of my favourite manga is Genshiken (the anime is great too, but it ends just before the manga gets REALLY good) (this is different to Soul Eater, where the point at which anime and manga ‘split’ is pretty much exactly the point where the manga gets really good) (not that the anime is bad, it’s just … well, anyway).
As I was saying before I interrupted myself, Genshiken is one of my favourite manga. I’d put it just behind Yotsuba& and Azumanga Daioh in my ‘all-time favourite manga’ list. If you haven’t read it and don’t know anything about it, it’s both easy to describe and difficult to explain. Basically it’s just about the lives of a group of otaku (orrrrr Japanese geeks) and the club they belong to; Genshiken. Which is a kind of catch-all club for people who don’t fit into other groups. They watch anime and read manga and play games and talk and live and LOVE. Needless to say, it’s utterly compelling. For the first few volumes there’s little plot and only the semblance of story, for me it’s not until Ogiue (favourite character favourite character favourite character) shows up that the themes of the work really start to show themselves–but I’m not here to talk about that.
Genshiken was the primary inspiration for me to do more with my writing than just … well, write. Ogiue’s story is … all right, fine, it’s nothing like ‘my’ story. But there are certain parallels. Of all the characters I feel closest to her, although we’re barely anything alike.
I’m not doing a very good job of this. “Difficult to explain”, you see. Let me take a deep breath and try again.
There’s a bit, in the manga, I forget which volume but one of the later ones, where Sasahara is talking to Ogiue about her future and potential careers, about whether she’ll try to become a manga creator. She says something like “I hadn’t really thought about it, but on the other hand the amount of time I spend drawing is ridiculous … like ALL my time”, to which his reply is something like “People like that just naturally become manga artists–it’s the people who wonder ‘how do I become a manga artist?’ that have trouble”.
And I read that, and I read it again, and I read it a third time, and I thought, “Sasahara, you are absolutely correct”.
Because the amount of time I spend writing is ridiculous–like ALL my time. And like Ogiue I have a high ‘production rate’. She produces manga pages by the dozen; I produce words by the thousand. Even if there was absolutely no chance of my writing ever being seen by anyone other than myself, I’d still write. Creating stories and sharing them with characters is my favourite thing in the world to do. I love every part of writing, I love fleshing out the spark of an idea into a simple plot and then introducing complications, I love creating characters and settings and doing necessary research, I love choosing the exact right word or crafting a satisfying phrase, I love the simple act of putting words together to form sentences and stringing sentences together into paragraphs, everything, EVERYTHING about writing, I adore.
People like me just naturally become authors. It’s the people who wonder ‘how do I become a author?’ who have trouble.
Now, becoming a successful author, on the other hand …
BJK Factoid #8: I owe my writing career to the inspiration of Genshiken; Sasahara and Ogiue forever.