With virtually every story I write, I start by typing a rough outline of the plot. Manga #2 was one of the few exceptions, as I had a very rough idea in my head and hammered out what I saw in my mind’s eye by beginning with a sketchy storyboard of the intro sequence.
For a while after this I had to let my ideas stew a little longer before I received inspiration for the rest of the story. The second manga is actually autobiographical in a way, being based on a life lesson I learned from my Japanese sisters. One of my biggest problems is a lack of self-confidence. I criticize nearly everything I do and often don’t want to expend effort on account of being self-conscious. Whether it comes to playing the violin in public or putting out my writing week after week for the world (in theory, anyway) to see, I never think that I’ve done well. That, more than anything else, is the reason I had gone over a year without drawing anything. “My drawings just aren’t that good.” “I’m not an artist.” “I suck.”
But I drew the manga as a gift/show of love to the Japanese missionaries who constantly inspire me to be a better person. I was somewhat embarrassed by my cheap offering, but they loved it wholeheartedly. The first question they asked was, “When are you making the next one?” And one sister in particular told me, “When I look at this, I can feel the love.” That was the highest praise I could have possibly received. That experience taught me that when you do something out of true love, you don’t have to be ashamed that your effort isn’t “good enough.” A flawed but heartfelt gift is better than all the flawless yet empty trinkets in the world. A child will happily share a drawing with parents and others– from a lack of pride. Love is not proud, and shame is a necessary consequence of pride. Once I decided to realize this, I could put forth my very best effort, and it really showed.
So let’s look now at the process behind the much better second manga!