2020 Writing Log, Part One

This year I’d like to return to my practice of keeping a writing log. I’m not sure it will be weekly, but I’ll do my best to keep it updated. Here we go!

– I posted Chapter 23 and Chapter 24 of Malice, an urban fantasy fanfic novel based on Breath of the Wild.

– I posted a review of Riku Onda’s wonderful mystery novel The Aosawa Murders on my book review blog, as well as an abbreviated version on Goodreads.

– I sent my editor at Palgrave my book abstract and a set of chapter abstracts. This is the text that will go on the book’s webpage, so I spent a lot of time editing, refining, and polishing the abstracts I included with the initial prospectus. These abstracts are only about 1,200 words in total, but I’ve spent the past month working on this almost every day.

– I also wrote the “Acknowledgments” section of the book. I’ve been in a dark place for the past several months, so I wanted to wait until I was in the right state of mind to do this. I’d like to think the final draft is a good combination of sincere and concise.

– I also sent an essay abstract to an edited volume on JRPGs. I’m still playing with the title, but at the moment it’s “The Green Worlds of Studio Ghibli and The Legend of Zelda.” The essay is about how a postapocalyptic world is presented as something beautiful and full of potential in the Zelda series and how that worldview has been directly influenced by the work of Hayao Miyazaki. I’m scheduled to give a talk about this project at the University of Notre Dame in April, and I’m very excited! If you’re interested, I put a short description up (here).

Writing Log 12/09/2018

– I got about a third of the way into editing Chapter 4 of my book manuscript!

– I updated the “Online” page of this website to include things like my account on Pillowfort. I think that, at this point, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to hide the fact that I’m a huge Legend of Zelda nerd.

– These past few months have been rough, but the semester is finally over! I gave the students in my “Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies” class their zines (and posted the cover on Twitter). I was also able to hand out stickers based on student artwork that I printed with Moo.com. I think everything turned out really well!

– I sent out about two dozen copies of my Ghost Stories zine, and I made a bunch of hand-drawn stickers to send with them. I put a few extra copies on Etsy, but I’m actually hoping to give them away on Twitter.

Writing Log 12/02/2018

– I finished editing the third chapter of my book manuscript. Finally! Now that the semester is almost over, hopefully I can pick up the slack and do the last two chapters before the end of the year.

– One of my academic essays, “The Legends of Zelda: Fan Challenges to Dominant Video Game Narratives,” was just published in the collection Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Injustice. The marvelous Kishonna Gray (@kishonnagray on Twitter) was my editor, and it was an incredible experience to work with her!

– I posed a review of Durian Sukegawa’s novel Sweet Bean Paste on Contemporary Japanese Literature. I’m going to admit that the book was far too sentimental for my taste, but I’m still interested in sensitive depictions of illness and disability that don’t follow the usual “and then everyone got better” or “and then everyone died” story routes.

– I posted my postgame fanfic about Riju and Princess Zelda, The Seven Heroines, on AO3. This fic is based on an illustration I commissioned from a lovely artist who goes by @ositia on Tumblr. Essentially, I was so inspired by the artist’s work that I decided to write a story to go with it.

– I drew a silly picture of Ganondorf cosplaying as Eggman for a dear friend who has good taste in video game villains.

– I recycled a pose I didn’t use for Ganondorf and drew Groose from Skyward Sword.

– One of the artists I commissioned to draw Balthazar from The Demon King, Jenn So (@hellojennso on Twitter), just posted her illustration of the character, and her art is amazing! It was a genuine pleasure to be able to work with her, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to communicate with such a talented artist.

– I commissioned an artist who goes by @Poopikat on Instagram to create an illustration of Hero from The Demon King, and I’m so blown away by her painting of my darling murder child. It’s so cool when an artist is able to intuit what you’re looking for and then adds creative touches from their own vision. Now all I have to do is write the actual novel, right?

Writing Log 11/19/2018

– I finished editing all the stories in my Ghost Stories zine! I reformatted the file in InDesign and sent the PDF to the printer, a service called Mixam that came highly recommended by an artist friend on Tumblr. If all goes well, I should have the books in my hands this Friday.

– I also finished editing the zine for my “Anime and Manga Studies” course this semester. One of the class assignments was for everyone to submit a zine page based on their research projects. Some of the students phoned it in (which kind of hurt my feelings, to be honest), but most of them created fantastic work. It took me a solid eleven hours to put the zine together, but it was worth the effort. I just submitted the file to Mixam this morning, and I should be able to give my students copies of the zine during the final week of class, when they’re scheduled to present their projects.

– I had a wonderful time participating in the “Remembering Isao Takahata, Co-Founder of Studio Ghibli” panel at Anime NYC this past weekend. The panel was sponsored by the Japan Foundation, who put a considerable amount of care into promoting it. As a result, the room was at its full capacity of 215 people. It was a great audience! My co-panelist, CJ Suzuki, is one of my favorite people, and it’s always a pleasure to work with him.

– As I was talking to people over the weekend, I played down the time and effort I put into researching and writing (and memorizing) this presentation, but I’ve actually been working on it since August. I’m considering editing all of my material into a blog post, but that may only happen next year.

– I also introduced a screening of the Takahata film My Neighbors the Yamadas at the Japan Society on Saturday evening. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible this was. I met and talked with so many smart and interesting people, and the experience renewed my sense of what exactly it is that I’m trying to accomplish by studying popular media. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the experience filled me with hope and determination!

Writing Log 11/11/2018

– I finished editing the second chapter of my book manuscript! I was only able to do this because I skipped a department meeting on Wednesday. I’m not proud of this, but work on this project has got to get done.

– I edited four more stories for my Ghost Stories chapbook and touched up the design for the back cover. Everything is looking great! I’m really excited about sharing this when it’s ready.

– I wrote 2,500 words of The Demon King. Although I’ve already written the first chapter, I’m not starting at the beginning, but rather with scenes that I can already see clearly in my mind. Now that I’ve begun to get a better sense of the characters, and I think it’s time to create a chapter outline.

– I’m still working on a Breath of the Wild postgame fanfic called “The Seven Heroines.” I’m done with the first (very rough) draft, and I think the story is probably going to be finished next week at about 2,000 words.

– I wrote half a dozen recommendation letters. Two of these were basically form letters, but I put a considerable amount of effort into the rest.

– I’ve been working to prepare for a panel on Isao Takahata at Anime NYC. I’m also introducing a screening of one of the director’s films, My Neighbors the Yamadas, at the Japan Society. This got a press release on Anime News Network, which is kind of cool. I’m not going to lie – this trip to New York is a big deal for me, and I’m nervous.

Writing Log 11/04/2018

– I edited the first half of Chapter 2 of my book manuscript! I realized that the only way to get this done is to say “no” to literally every other professional obligation, so that’s what I’m doing.

– I’m writing a review of Haruki Murakami’s newest novel in translation, Killing Commendatore, for my book review blog. This novel didn’t make a strong impression on me when I read it in Japanese, and a second reading in English hasn’t changed my mind, so I don’t actually have much to say. Still, I’ve now read a good dozen reviews of the novel that get the plot and the characters mixed up, and there isn’t currently anything on the novel’s English-language Wikipedia page, so at the very least I can write an accurate plot summary that correctly identifies the characters and the themes of the story.

– I’m slowly editing the thirteen (very) short stories that I’m going to include in a chapbook called Ghost Stories, which I hope to send off to the printer by the end of the month. I’ve already posted the first story in the collection, Aunt Bernice, on this blog.

– I’m working on a short Breath of the Wild postgame fic about Zelda and Riju, who I think would get along really well together. I told myself I would stop writing fanfic once the fall semester began, but I was wrong. If it doesn’t get in the way of my professional writing and makes me happy, what’s the harm?

– I found not one but two artists who would be willing to create a character illustration of Balthazar from The Demon King! I was 95% certain that one of them would turn me down, but both ended up taking my commission. I’m very excited about this! Unlike Ceres and Hero, I only have the sketchiest idea of what Balthazar is supposed to look like, so it will be good to get two different interpretations from two different artists. Both artists have already sent sketches, and they’re beyond fantastic. Once I have professional illustrations of the character, hopefully I’ll be able to start drawing him myself.

Writing Log 10/28/2018

– Last weekend I gave two panels at Anime USA, “Japanese Urban Legends” and “Legend of Zelda Theories.” The panel on urban legends was extraordinarily successful, completely filling a room meant to seat 125 people, and earlier this morning I accepted an invitation to present it at Katsucon in February.

– I submitted revisions for an essay about the Takashi Miike film Audition, which has been accepted in an academic essay collection on gender and horror. I’ve been working on this research project for years, and I’m happy it’s finally going to be published!

– I finished editing the first chapter of my book manuscript! This took about a month. It took me almost four months to edit the Introduction, but I think I’ve managed to develop a practical and efficient routine. My goal is to submit the manuscript to my editor by the end of the year, so I’ll need to pick up the pace.

– I wrote a script for a twelve-panel comic about Link’s Awakening. The comic is about the strange experience of playing the game when it first came out, which was back when Game Boy cartridges were notoriously glitchy. I want the visual style of this comic to be simple and stylized, and I’m thinking of drawing everything from scratch in Photoshop. I’m not sure whether I want to submit it to a gaming arts magazine like ZEAL or just post it directly to Tumblr, but I’ll worry about that once it’s actually finished.

– Speaking of Tumblr, I wrote a blog post about mean people on the internet. This involved about five hours of research and seven hours of writing and editing, all of which was spread out across four days.

– An artist friend on Twitter retweeted a commission post created by another artist. I was intrigued by the style of the sample images, so I stayed up late going through the artist’s Tumblr and reading their webcomic. I was awed and inspired by their work, so the next morning I sent them a message asking if they would be interested in creating an illustration of Balthazar from The Demon King. The artist responded favorably, so I stayed up late again working on an email. They haven’t responded, and I don’t think they’re ever going to, but the effort wasn’t wasted. I got to discover the work of an amazing artist, and I now have a better idea of who Balthazar is and what he looks like.