There’s a cliched expression among writers: Write what you know. Most of us lead unexciting lives (I certainly haven’t embarked on any death-defying escapades) so what would I have to write about?
Except, this well-worn adage needs to be tweaked. It’s not: write what you know, but create from your passion. If you take something from your life that really jazzes you, there is a way to transform that into art.
Think it can’t be done?
Let’s have a look at some of the more unusual manga rattling around in the world. Firstly there’s artist and writer Takashi Hashiguchi, who is famous for two idiosyncratic series. Firstly there’s Super Yo-Yo, a manga and anime about an exceptionally gifted yoyoer (yes, that’s a word). If that isn’t specific enough, he went on to create Yakitate!! Japan, which translates to Freshly Baked!! Ja-pan. This is a manga/anime combo about bread making. Yep, yeast, flour, bean paste, the works. The goal is to create a signature bread for Japan.
There are scores of anime about baseball, tennis, ping pong, ice skating, basketball, and even one about scuba diving. Think these are obscure? Who would get involved in a drama about a sport when we can watch it for real? Take one of the best manga/anime’s on the planet, Haikyuu!!, a story about volleyball.
I’ve actually watched this one and somehow it hooks you. Volleyball. My only exposure to this was high school PE and that scene in Top Gun. Yet here is a full out drama centered around getting that ball over the net, and keeping it off the floor.
Haruichi Furudate, the author of Haikyuu!! Played middle blocker volleyball in his junior high (just like the lead character, Hinata). He was passionate about the sport, but doubted he could play professionally. Thus the transition into the arts so he could share his passion with the world.
It makes me wonder what I could create, should I delve into my passions. Besides my obsession with fantasy and horror, I think my stand out manga/anime would be Coffee!!. A brief look at the internet showed at least 18 coffee related manga. But mine would be different, because it might have magical coffee beans and have a history stretching back to Ancient Egypt. Maybe.
The point is this, direct your art toward the areas where you have a fervent desire. Whatever you obsess about, that should be your art. If someone else has done it, do it better. Delve deeper. Make it your own.
Waiting for the next great manga on my other passion: Grammar!! A story about the comma and the subordinate clause.
It could happen.