Pictured: Me, hard at work.
At the end of last week’s entry, I promised some big fancy announcement, so here it is: I’m writing a nonfiction prose book about my experiences studying calligraphy in Japan! The very tentative title is:
Blood, Sweat & Ink
An American Cartoonist’s Immersion into Japan’s Calligraphy Culture
When I first started thinking about it and planning it out a few months ago, I envisioned a graduation thesis of some kind. Just a short, straightforward account about how East Asian calligraphy is relevant to modern-day cartooning, to be presented to Shikoku University’s professors & students when I graduated.
But as I started getting into it and really reflecting on my experience, I saw many areas ripe for expansion. It occurred to me that if I wrote and organized it in the right way, that the subject could appeal to a general audience in the English speaking world. I’ve read several English language books about East Asian calligraphy, and have been struck by how academic and inaccesible they tend to be. It always seems to me like they’re preaching to the choir, that they’re for people who are already familiar with the subject. I’ve come to find East Asian calligraphy to be absolutely fascinating, and want to try to express that enthusiasm in a way that could be read for pleasure by laypeople. And so the idea for a book was born.
The project has become quite ambitious. It’s part autobiography, part journalism, part history, part art theory, part cultural studies…it’s quite a juggling act. Since it’s still in the early stages, I’m not sure exactly what form it will take, or how long it will be. But I’m firmly committed to it, and hope to have something done before I leave Japan in a year’s time. I’ve been pretty bad at meeting my self-imposed deadlines for comics, but maybe prose will be different, we’ll see. Right now I’m about halfway done with the rough draft.
Anyway, I’ll update and post excerpts from the book when I get a little further along, so check back, or subscribe to my RSS feed if you’re interested.
Oh, and if there’s anyone out there that’s familiar with the subject who knows of books or websites they would recommend as I continue my research, please let me know. Thanks!