Friday, August 27, 2010

never the twain shall meet

hello readers! welcome to my blog about my show!

for those few of you who might be confused by this: in addition to working for low pay in a bookstore and writing plays for even lower pay, i am a paid columnist for Anime News Network. every week (usually) i write a little column called Hey, Answerman! where i take all kinds of questions from hundreds of thousands of readers all about the intricacies of japanese animation. this column is why i tend not to respond to your phone calls or text messages on thursdays.

the reason i bring this up is that there's sort of an odd connection between the two. usually the theater stuff and my anime writing are two completely separate beasts, kept in separate cages within my psyche, rarely interacting. but, there was this one time.

(cue flashback)

earlier in the year, zac asked me to pitch in 1200 words or so for a feature in Protoculture Addicts magazine. he wanted to gather all his writers and have them write personal, involving stories about how they fell into anime, what it means to them, et cetera. so, late one night i grabbed amber's laptop and headed to CoffeeXChange. Tucson natives will remember CoffeeXChange as the place where college kids hopped up on adderall and cocaine stay up all night drinking coffee and pretending to study. it was also a 10-minute walk from my apartment at the time, so i was a frequent customer.

i get to CoffeeXChange, and i start writing my article. it was all about how i came to become an anime fan, or more specifically, how i discovered anime. in my younger days i had big, lofty dreams of being an animator, winning awards for my idiosyncratic films in the vein of Don Hertzfeldt. considering that i was a self-taught artist without a clear grasp of standard artistic principles like anatomy, dimension, or staging, i had to come to the sad realization in my teenage years that, simply put, i didn't have the chops. and it wasn't until i discovered anime when i was 16 years old that i found something new and exciting in the world of animation to really cling to. i haven't let go since.

so, i wrote that piece. it was about 4 or 5 in the morning at this point. i start editing it, whittling it down to that exact 1200 word mark. i notice these... kids in the table next to me, making an awful lot of insouciant small-talk. very dramatic, very self-absorbed kids. and then it hit me. "oh, dear. these are DRAMA KIDS."

i was about to pick up my stuff and move to a different table when i realized something. in my bag, i had the first 7 or 8 pages, finished, from what would eventually become "You Are Not Special!" i tiredly turned to them, and i said,

"excuse me, but... i dunno, and i don't mean to sound rude, but... you guys are all drama kids, right?"

the token female of the group nervously looks at me and says, "well... i am, and he is. but he's not."

"that's great," i say, "and... tell me if this sounds weird to you, but. i'm a writer. i've got this script i'm working on. if you wouldn't mind, could i... just have you guys read it for me? just to give me an idea of how it sounds. i'm not so sure about it yet."

they agreed, sheepishly. they read it. it sounded great. even though they mispronounced words like "facile" and names like "Devereaux." whatever. it sounded good. it sounded authentic. it sounded real. i was pleased.

i thanked them. the girl looked back at me, and sort of nonchalantly said, "yeah, i want to be a writer, and i've written some like, poems and stuff, but um, i'm just like, going through all this writer's block."

then and there i think i've given the best accidental advice of my career.

"you know what's a good cure for writer's block?" i said. "writing."

i'm not sure if she thought that was just some asshole expression. but it was genuine.

my writing all comes from the same general place, i think. when i write about anime, i write about it because i'm compelled beyond belief to get up and sing and proselytize this artform that i love and fuck you for not loving it like i do. when i write these silly plays about balls and masturbation and heartbreak it's because i still can't shake that feeling i had when i was younger - to use my talents to create something worthwhile for someone other than myself.

this bit of introspection is brought to you by relative insomnia, and the adorable kitten that is chewing on my shirt.



  1. Well you must be a pretty damn good writer because I enjoy the column, the cartoons, and even this description you just wrote about all 3. I'm sure with your talents some day soon people like me who are outside of the Arizona area will get a chance to read, see, or watch, your plays. Good job and great stuff.

  2. In the end, as long as you're enjoying writing and creating more so than not it's all positive. Kepp up the fun and thanks for keeping the rest of us lesser beings informed and entertained!

  3. I say you need more selfishiness when it comes to writing. Fuck if anyone else enjoys it, chances are you had a greater (and more personal) reason to write what you write in the first place, even if only on an unconscious level. Aside from that, no doubt that having that sense of "it sound good. it sounded authentic" when coming out of someone else's mouth, well that is something you need other ppl for. Kudos to you for that.