24 June 2014

magical (writing) tour of studyofanime

I (Kit) was asked to respond to a blog tour bit by Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne, involving questions on writing. Twoflower's works will be mentioned in an upcoming panel from here, so be on the look out for that too.

For those new to this site, we here at Study of Anime write about Japanese culture. Not only Japanese animation, but also sacred traditions, horror stories, cultural events (such as Tanabata/the Star Festival), communication styles, and more. All crafted with care, with some help of coffee.

This response is actually for myself as well as Charles, so this is the Study of Anime ~ complete behind the scenes writing edition~ ... or something.

  • Response in bold: Charles
  • Response in italics: Kit


What am I working on?

My life is a perpetual list of projects. Ghost stories, storytelling, fanfiction novel projects, and e-books based around my life’s work are all jockeying around in my mind at any given time, just waiting to pounce and force itself out. I blame my brain, but in truth, so much fascinates me about everything that I can’t help but try my best to tackle it all.

I write for this website (Study of Anime) now, so I've been writing articles for it, as well as working on ghost stories, panels (such as a version of my Utena/Madoka heroism panel that focuses on the films of those franchises), and essays for two ebooks. I have a small game project in the works as well as wanting to turn some of our upcoming ghost stories into podcasts/spoken storytelling works. The first ebook I'm collaborating on – Shuten Doji, Kill la Kill, and the Transformations of Japan – you can pre-order here.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I suppose my question would be, why should it? When I write, I write because I want to, not because I have anything to prove, or refute, or challenge genre-wise. I write because it brings me joy or a sense of fulfillment.

Aside from "creative nonfiction", I'm really not sure what genre - if any - I write in. The game project blends multiple genres, ghost stories can blend genres... like Twoflower's body of work, there are many parts that do different things, but it all seems to work out.

Why do I write what I do?

Because it makes sense to me. Everything in my life happens because it makes sense to me, so why buck the trend. One day I picked up a pen, and today is the end result. I try not to think about it, I just let it happen.

I write because, I guess I want some mark that I lived. It makes sense to me, wanting to feel like your life meant something, even if it was just a few minutes of reading for someone else. But it's like I decided to pick up a pen one day; ever since I can remember, I have been writing.

How does my writing process work?

Random inspiration. That’s it. The idea hits me, I start scribbling things down, and before long it just pours out. I wrote an entire fanfiction novel in 2012 simply because I was thinking about the characters, knocked out 16 pages in a single day, and kept at it for three months, until the story was completely out of my head. That’s how I do really any writing- grab the inspiration and run.

Now, sometimes that requires me to find that proverbial spark. For that, I sometimes need music, or visual media, or even a friend to bounce the ideas off. But that is unpredictable as well- I cannot know when the spark will appear, but when it does, I’m set. Just go with the flow.

I often cannot wait for a spark to come. Or rather - once I have an idea, I can't wait until I "get in the mood" for writing, or "know exactly how it plays out", or anything like that. Plus, my first effort might just be to get something on paper or screen, and I may go back and revise it later. For those short pieces, I just sit and type until it's done. But structure has always been an issue with me, so now I have some sort of process for it; if you're talking about the Study of Anime articles, much of the structure gets bounced off and refined during talks with Charles – that's how the Kansai article came about, completely out of us watching Kill la Kill and me having to pause the episode to mention something like the beef tank.  (Yes. Beef tank.) But for more involved works, like panels or ebook essays, the process goes like this:

  • Rough idea
  • Note-taking
  • Writing parts/portions (for example, picking out a theme, or a particular scene)
  • Repeat above step for any other parts/portions
  • Put it together
  • Revise

...it's not exactly a rigid structure at all, but it's been working so far. It also allows for improvement and revision easily: if paragraphs or sections don't flow the way I want them to, after a beta reading or test, I can revise with minimal effort.  

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