Shoji here, today we have a guest post by Natsuya which he wanted to share to talk about memories and how objects from the past can stir up deep seated feelings that can be unsettling ad cause harm. A lot of this has to do with some of the recent news of the #OwnVoices movement and #WillNotBeErased. Lets get Natsuya talking and see what he has to say today.

Hi this is Natsuya. I recently received a painting from a relative that was hanging over the piano in my childhood home. I used to practice long hours on the piano while I was growing up and I used to go to piano recitals and play concertos. Practicing piano was a passion for me and I liked playing all through middle school, grade school and high school. But at one point in the piano journey I encountered a teacher who changed my outlook on both the piano and music in general. I will not get into it here but I was reminded of that old childhood memory by receiving this painting just yesterday.

I wanted to talk a little about #OwnVoices as this has become big in the writing world recently. Things like writing diversity and sensitivity readers and trying not to be stereotypical in voice when writing a character that is other than yourself. Now, I try to be diverse in writing characters in my books but I also make sure that I have representation and do research for those that have different or diverse traits that I do not. Now I have transgender and non binary and androgenous and gay characters in my books and I am in the process of writing and drawing volume 3 of the graphic noiz manga which includes a trans woman character in Jade, Shiro’s sister and a gay character Noix the artist and the writer Shiro is bisexual. So I am familiar with this dynamics from my own experiences and I wanted to bring that up. Also in volume 3 we are exploring Hafu culture with Noiz who is half Japanese and half Native American and Black. I wanted to say something about how his culture affects him and how he is treated in the art world. This book has been a little harder to write because I don’t have a script but we are making progress and we are on chapter 3.

Why I bring up the painting and graphic noiz is that Shiro in his office has copies of the Dawn manga that he wrote and illustrated with the help of his mentor. Shiro’s mentor Katsuhiro who abused him at 19 is also the person who helped him reach his publishing goal and drove him to get his first manga published. Katsuhiro is a lot like mu music teacher for me. And again I will not get into it but the music teacher’s personality was a guideline for Katsuhiro’s character design in the story graphic noiz.

Shiro has moments in the graphic noiz series where he goes off the rails or gets triggered and disappears into a dark depression or has emotions he is not ready to deal with due to what Katsuhiro did to him. He has this happen in a scene where he is triggered by seeing a note written in an old copy of Fissure when he first released it. This painting I received yesterday brought back some of these same feelings in me and triggered a whole bunch of PTSD and self doubt that was deep seated from my childhood. It is important to sit with your feelings and really try to understand them. I just hung the painting in the living room and had it hidden in a back room when I first unpacked it. I forgot how much I had missed that painting that would stare at me every day as I practiced the piano. The image is a little larger than I originally thought it was and the drawing a little different than my childhood memory but it is definitely a piece of my childhood that had a profound meaning.

When writing characters is important to give them a depth of understanding, flaws and feelings. If you do not do this when character building the characters will be flat and not three dimensional. These extra layers are not just what coffee they drink or music they write, but a deep feeling and drive that these characters feel for. I know that mainly I am a writer but I am attempting to draw graphic noiz and i know i tell a mean story so though my writing is better than my drawing i know how to relay a story with in depth characters that will bring out emotions in the reader. It is important that I can bring Shiro and Noiz to life. And Katsuhiro is a personality in Shiro’s life that shaped him and made him the bestselling, arrogant and aloof writer he is that women love him so and his books. That drive he has that was ingrained in him by Katsuhiro has a tragic flaw attached that haunts his days and drives him to fits of genius in his writing. This painting like the Dawn manga that Shiro penned is something from childhood that shaped who he is as an adult.

The painting brings back bad memories for me but my relative thought I needed to have it because that one and another i expressed interest in at one time. When my father died 2 years ago I lost a part of myself that I will never get back and had to flounder around a bit to find my footing. I have never actually had the time to mourn my father’s passing because of everything that happened right after that which was a whirlwind but I honoured his memory and this painting which he hung in my childhood home and told me all the time to go practice the piano has a meaning that is not lost on me. I will cherish the painting as Shiro cherishes his copies of the Dawn manga but those dark memories that go with those items from childhood will forever shape who the character is, and forever shape me. I think that is why I write Shiro as aloof, arrogant and solitary not wanting to rely on anyone. I do that to protect him and insulate him from the world in much the same way I do the same. It is just another mechanism to keep the childhood memories inside and hidden. This painting drew them out but I hung it front an center to remind myself that I don’t have to go back there at all, but remember it is where I came from that shaped me, memories, traumas and all into who I am today.

Thanks for listening.