• Where I stood
It’s no secret that the past 3 years have been life-changing for a lot of people, and I had my fair share of twists and turns throughout.
After my father’s death, I pushed myself to finish volume 9 for the readers, because I hate leaving things hanging, and because my father actually asked about it on what I now know was his death bed. A thing that we read about often in stories and is as enough of a motivation as you would imagine.
I started planning for this REcap volume while I was printing volume 9.
But after all the printing, promotion and shipping was over… there was nothing.
There was a ton in my head and between my notes.
I was getting ideas for the book on/off randomly.
But all that had happened, and with one final nail in the coffin on that night when I felt as if my back has been bent too far for too long that I couldn’t stand straight again, I hung my boots for a month or so, then later I took the break.
• When I started
Every day in June, at a time when the weather was not cold but definitely not hot yet, I would sit on the table in our backyard with all the garden cats passing by, and dedicate the time to write something, edit something or just arrange idea. Some pages prompted me to do a small sketch of the page that I see in my head -because never trust that your brain will remember-, and it just felt right to think in pages again.
• TOO much
There was too much to arrange and connect. I was making progress and I was feeling good about it. However my personal feelings towards some of the falling outs I had with friends I made through this series was a large neon sign that kept flickering constantly and I’d get actual and emotional migraines every time I sit down to think ahead and write in the story.
I was also not connecting to my room at all. The place I spent all those years creating in became a haunted place and one that is filled of painful memories bigger than what I could handle at the time.
I don’t listen to myself regarding those things so I kept trying to work there and kept arranging and rearranging the furniture in my room as if a new orientation would give me comfort when all it did was adding to all the changes that’s been stressing me out ever since my dad passed away.
Emotions aside, his passing caused a big shift in my home, and the dynamics between everyone there changed one way or another, so life has been hard to navigate around people no matter who the face I was seeing or the username I was writing.
Still, I kept pushing forward.
• Like learning to swim
I was burnt out.
Not artistically, but… as a creative person in the public eye.
I was writing and thinking and doodling but I was scared. I was scared of being productive. Of having chapters done and ready to go. Every time I would take a step in writing the arc, I would spend much time talking to my mother about the audience, about my friends, about the pain and the pointlessness. Her only answer continuously was to do what I did back when I started and had no audience and nobody I actually know wanting to read the story. To just do it because it’s what I love to do.
And she’s right.
But also writing stories are a two-way street and how far will it take me to create the story and throw ideas about humans, only for myself? How longer it’ll take for me to heal and be able to walk again on the same path that is tainted with pain, misunderstandings and deserted souls.
I came to the realization that it felt very similar to learning how to swim.
There’s this person who hold your log-like body on the surface of the water and tell you to not stress. Just relax. and feel the water and you’ll float.
They say it so easily, but it doesn’t seem easy. It doesn’t feel easy. They let go of your body and you just sense it being submerged and going down so you flail.
People who are not on the same page as you are have nothing bu words and those don’t really have an effect in a life/death situation.
However, I did learn how to swim past my thirties. I even learnt how to dive afterward.
So I remembered.
I was only able to learn how to swim by being in the water. standing up. water is around me in all directions. feeling the water with my whole body. nobody was holding me, telling me anything or expecting anything from me.
It’s only me and the water. And gradually, I drew nearer and submerged my feet in water up my ankles.
I replayed games I played back when I had no one but loneliness in college days. I rewatched old anime that I watched on my own back in school days.
And I sat down and wrote in the new arc. Everyday, I’d create scenes by day and consume creations by evening.
And I didn’t think.
Gradually, I realized that I’ve collected all the topics I want to address, and I have them all on the table.
And so it starts…
I was finally back to writing the arc’s layout, thinking ahead, arranging ideas, doodling sketches, sketching clippings and planning manga pages.
Emotionally, I kind of did a White and shoved it all in a box. Emotionally, in regards to other people that is.
The feelings were at an all-time high towards my story, however what some friends and some family members did to make me reach that point of burning and then putting it out on my own still choked me– chokes me.
You’d think this is better written in some personal blog, but what I face is part of what makes me and what I create.
Art is a language and a bridge. And back to the new arc, I was working in my isolated mountaintop, feeling all the good feelings, however, every once in a while, I’d keep glancing up at the bridges of hope and wait. I was left to burn alone and I had felt after a certain time has passed that it’s time to unhook the bridge at my end and let it go.
I’ll be checking my vol-recap discord channel and see what else I can share before the updates are back.
I will be collecting my commentary for each chapter while I was creating it in one blog post after it’s fully out.
I want to write a bit about the process of creating the Trailer for the arc, and I might write something about the wants and fears of come back online, but that last one isn’t a sure thing because I’m not sure how much “personal” I want to share.
I’ll be writing a draft then decide after sleeping on it.
Thank you so much for reading this far, and apologies if this dragged on for long.
A lot of plugins and themes updated throughout the year so I had to do the yearly touching up I do for the website so it wouldn’t have bugs and broken look here and there.
I looked into changing the comic reader interface to make it easier to work on the phone. Something that has touch gestures or a way to make all the the pages in a chapter open in the same page like we see in scanlations websites.
I looked into Toocheke plugin, and a few other alternatives but nothing offered me what I want and with 2000+ pages, I didn’t want to risk trying something out and have the whole website fall apart ahead of the return.
Thankfully that journey led me to learn how to stage a website, like make a copy of the current website and and do all the editing there while the original live website stays as-is. But that was the only advantage from the days of trying to offer a better “modern” experience.
I revisited the Blog, About and Archive pages and went kinda minimal with them. I thought of dividing the chapters in pages in the Archive page and into Arcs in the About page, but then I thought how it’s better to have a way to group a set of chapters together and make the whole series easier to approach for newcomers.
At least, that’s how I go about reading new manga series. Recently I was reading Monster and it’s easier to read a volume per setting than keep looking at that number of chapters altogether without a point of reference on how to fit it in my schedule.
As for the blog, I added a call-to-action button for a pop-up if anyone wants to join the newsletter. I’m still not sure if I should change the page layout for the blog categories when you click to them. As of right now, when you click on a category, you get a list of all the post titles.
If you open any post, and then click the category from there in the post header, you go to the archive page for the category and it shows the posts in tumblr-style one after the other.
Each of these layouts has its pros and cons and I’m still unsure which to stick with, or is the way it is right now is good enough.
I don’t see much traffic coming to the blog in general and that’s why I’m in no haste to change anything.
The bigger update was for the homepage, which has been a landing page for the past 2 years, and now it’s a simple manga website homepage with a classic header and all.
I want to try to show the latest pages in an attractive way once the updates are back, and I added a sidebar that shows all the info and social links and Clippings.
I was also able to learn how to make an off-canvas menu for the sidebar on mobile phone. I can only hope that it works smoothly on all browsers and devices.
The design for the info in Hompage, especially on phone, is taken from the MangaPlus interface. I’ll continue to do some touch-ups here and there so that I wouldn’t be that “copy homework” meme.
And that’s all for this year’s website update.
While revisiting volumes 6 and 7, I came across many hidden layers– I always have those. However, in these volumes, and because of the events, there were many lines and scenes that I scrapped because what’s left serves the best there is to serve. Like the Japanese Garden Philosophy, you keep taking out parts of the design till nothing is left which can be removed without it being ruined, and that’s the closest to “perfect” we can create.
Between a mind of scheduled thoughts, a heart of drafts and a body of errors, September is going slowly yet zooming through as I blink. New tech, books and non-human living beings are of company.
I finished all the editing, proofreading and redrawing the covers of volumes 1-4 months ago. I didn’t set a date to start the printing and I still don’t have one in mind, however, I had to go back and forth towards these books multiple times, or graphic design reasons, concerning the covers, the logo for the umbrella under which all my aliases go under, and also, whether I’d make a box set or not, and if yes, how would I split the books.
I finished volume 5’s editing back with the other volumes too but I don’t have the means, on all fronts, nor the energy to go over finalizing the work for it, but that will have to happen too. There has been a huge decline in sales ever since the first volumes sold out, understandably so.
anyhow, photo dump from the past few months.