Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's too late now, fulfillment just adds fuel to the flame

*No Doubt, "Too Late" from the album, Return to Saturn

The title has nothing to do with this post. I just like it and it seems like it suits the business of writing, for some. That perhaps a writer who is published once, ill then be motivated to write even more, thus fueling the fire of success.

That's not the point though. No actually, I hd a curious realization the other day. Now lately I have been reading a lot of manga, and by a lot I would guess in the hundreds since getting on this kick with Christmas 2005 (I'd read some before, but that's when I really started devouring them). I've run across some stories that were simpler, but had lovely artwork, others with better stories and slightly less desireable art, some with high quality story and art and other with less quality of both. Assume what I'm about to say speaks of the good ones, and basicall every statement ends with IMHO.

I happen to think manga can have well-developed characters and strong plots. The best ones have some sort of character development, for at least the small handful of major players (actually I'm reading one right now that has that, "Ouran High School Host Club"). But it occurred to me that reading a manga versus reading a novel is a very different type of reading. Comic book-style/art aside, I read the story differently.

I used to think it was mostly a matter of, "They're shorter and more visual, so I can read them in half an hour to an hour." But the other day I sat down to begin reading Kate Elliott's Spirit Gate (I'm being a bad reader--I got side-tracked away from The Burning Stone and thus haven't finished the Crown of Stars series yet, but I do want to read this one, which I got for my birthday), and even only reading the first few pages before heading off to work, I was struck by how calm the activity made me feel. Even when reading tense or action-packed sequence, there's still part of me that tranquilly content, "I can't wait to see where this goes." My emotional state with manga is more grin-y, "this is fun, what's gonna happen next, I want to know now." Essentially the same thoughts, just phrased differently and with a more active sound to the latter. Perhaps it's a matter of the ID and ego.

(I did say I'd get into pulling out some of that psychology stuff, didn't I? Just didn't expect it to be today.)

So Freud had a lot of silly ideas, but people still cling to a few. Wait a moment, I'll give you a chance to get out all the Oedipal Complex jokes you know. Better? Okay, here we go.

So Freud had this idea about the unconscious and conscious mind (the iceberg imagery, of which only a small piece of ice above the sea level is really conscious thought), and within this was the Id, Ego and superego. Let's ignore the moral high ground of the superego, he's boring anyway. The ego as I always thought about it, was the practical sort, sying okay, we can do that, but not ight now. A harried mother of toddlers, perhaps. The id is the toddler, worse twins, and then both want A/B now. No! They want C, too!

Manga seems to fulfill that innate and mostly unconscious id desire to read, because there are (usually) plenty of manga at hand that I can read. Be it from the bookstore, a recent purchase, or the library, or rereading ones I've already bought (I think I found a couple of good series that lend themselves well to rereading). Reading novels seems more of an ego compromise, "wait until the summer (I've been in the school system so long that I associate summers with reading for a slew of entire days), and then you can read all of these books, and these over here, and a couple of those too." They were the reward for finishing the semester, finishing the year, finishing high school or college.

Now that I'm working, it's all a bit screwy for the novels. I want to read during my free time, time not taken up by work, eating, sleeping, or working on writing and editing my novel (I've caught up with the edits for my group. I'm on the cusp of chapter 14). All of that takes up a lot of time, though, and sometimes I must admit, I just don't feel like reading. So when I do, it's usually a small window and it's much easier to read a short manga than risk getting sucked into a novel only to have to put it down at the most inopportune moment because of other stuff.

You're just reaching an awesome chapter, the big fight scene, whichever, but it's so late you have to go to bed or you'll be groggy all day at work tomorrow.

There's still hope for novels, though, don't get me wrong. I read all those Thursday Next and the Nursery crime books in a fairly short amount of time (I found The Erye Affair as well at the library), and it was such a nice feeling to start a novel.

As easy as it is to say each reader reads differently, I think it may be just as true to say every reader reads each book differently, too. And by book, I mean manga, novels, nonfiction, all of it, even breaking it down to genres or even authors. I bet if I read Spirit Gate and then Neil Gaiman's American Gods, I'd notice a distinct difference in how I approached each of those books as well.

Just a neat little thing I noticed about myself I guess.


writtenwyrdd said...

Manga is like fiction-- all levels of quality, just with pictures. Okay, so that's a bit glib; but it is more like regular fiction than any other medium!

But manga isn't as re-readable, for me at least. I think it might be becasue I read as relaxation and reading the pretty pikshures is more like work and I have to pay attention!

Sabrina said...

Really, I've found a couple of manga series that are rereadable. Not all of them, but a few. For me, it's because one can read them so fast, and I find it sort of fun to read the whole series through in one go, on the rare occasion that I have the time. Not a fan of the scenes where it's hard to tell who's speaking, though. That is work.