That's how the internet works: you answer one question once, and bam! Suddenly you're a counselor.
Words from my editor I'll never ever forget
As for this first column, I'll answer the question "What's something your editor told you that you'll never ever forget?"
Many people who make their debut by submitting their work to a publisher or winning a manga competition have multiple editors due to their works being serialized in various outlets. However, all these years I've been working hand-in-hand with the very first editor who approached me.
By the way, my first contact with my editor was through pixiv DMs. I’d say I owe all the giggly moments I share with my editor to pixiv. (Shout-out to my editor!)
But here’s a little secret (well, not really) about us: we once had a series that got axed mid-serialization. It was just your run-of-the-mill business decision, but we were so confident in our work that we couldn't accept the reality of the cancellation. We decided to be optimistic and just brand it as just "The end of Part One!" but truth be told, it shook us a bit and we were a bit hesitant as we started discussing our next project...
But thanks to the support of the readers, our series miraculously made a comeback! It went from a presumed "Part One is finished... There might be a Part Two someday... I guess?" to a continuation getting locked down. My editor and I were overjoyed, so we started brainstorming ideas for Part Two.
I shared several themes I wanted to explore before the series was canceled but had been put on hold. My editor listened intently and said each idea sounded great until they asked me, "And when are you planning to draw that?"
Stammering, I replied, "Uh, well... Considering the series has just restarted, maybe a bit later down the line?"
To that, they firmly responded, "Hijiki, you should draw what you want to draw as soon as you can."
I was taken aback and ended up reflecting deeply on my editor's words. When I'd been forced to finish a story due to the series' impending cancellation, I'd had to leave a lot of ideas and cool stuff I wanted to do on the cutting room floor. It was kind of a shock to realize that experience had made me someone who automatically started putting off writing the stories I wanted to tell.
Passion towards a project can wane over time
You know, when I think about it, even before that I'd had a ton of ideas in my head that I was itching to write (or draw). But I'd tell myself, "Nah, not now. Maybe someday." Just how many of these concepts have I shelved, I wonder?
It's not just about commercial seriesーfan art and quick sketches, too. Sometimes they're just rough outlines, sometimes incomprehensible storyboards, or other times, it's just that one key scene. I bet many of you reading this have a folder somewhere on your computer, overflowing with mysterious files or fragments of your wildest fantasies. And you keep telling yourself, "Now's not the right time."
But let me shout it out loud for those in the back: Now IS the right time to write (or draw) it!
The real pain with these backlogged files, especially fan art, is that the passion (or madness, as some might say) for the original work may fade over time.
Like, you might've been totally vibing at one point, thinking "That's it! A is from a long line of maids serving B's household, and B totally has a soft spot for A! Yay!" But, revisit that idea later on, and you'll be like, "What the heck was I thinking?!" However, from a reader's perspective, there's a unique energy and charm to a work where the creator was clearly off their rocker with excitement.
As for me, I often find myself saying, "I'll get started on this once I get better... I don't even have the time right now." But if I'm honest with myself, even though my drawing skills have come a long way since my teens, they've pretty much plateaued in my twenties. So, whether I draw what I want to draw now or in the future, there won't be a huge leap in quality.
It's fine to live your life in regret, but my advice is to strike while the iron is hot, while you still have the energy, madness, and opportunity.
Every time I recall my editor's words, I straighten up and begin sketching like there's no tomorrow, even if it's just something I'm drawing for fun as the deadlines loom. (Sorry, dear editor...)