Creative Control: Rewriting Your Life in My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, Wandering Son, and Night in the Woods

cc01Given the opportunity is there anyone who wouldn’t want to reshape their life? To be able to go back in time and correct your mistakes of youth, smooth out your imperfections, live without regrets – it’s an ability to be envied. While such a godlike power obviously doesn’t exist in reality, taking control of your life is indeed possible. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, Wandering Son, and Night in the Woods all feature protagonists with lives in need of reshaping. They are often clumsy and find communication difficult. They stumble, make mistakes, and are easily misunderstood. Yet all of them can find control in their lives through writing. A process both creative and documentary, writing can allow new perspectives on your experiences. It gives context and clarity. It allows the author to analyze and learn from themselves, and in this, grow. Though the past is set in stone and put down in words, the very process of doing so can be the first step in writing your future.

nana note: this is a guest post courtesy of the lovely alex (@_kokotomo)

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Isolate, Slow Faults: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

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If one were to sift through any bestseller list devoted to manga they would find a litany of expected titles gracing its lofty heights, yet last summer an autobiographical one-shot like no other gained traction, swiftly finding its way onto twitter timelines of those who would not otherwise consider themselves to be fans of otaku media. Catching countless purveyors off guard with its striking cover, they took to Amazon leading to over a hundred reviews being published within a reasonably short time frame. Through taking a cursory glance at the reviews I found a number of sobering sentiments, reviewers drawing attention to their own lived experiences – a rarity where this medium is concerned. It was only later I learned the history behind Nagata Kabi’s Sabishisugite Lesbian Fuuzoku ni Ikimashita Report, or The Private Report on My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness. Originally self-published on Pixiv and garnering over five million views, it wasn’t long before it gained a cult following due to Nagata’s achingly raw delineations on her mental health, interpersonal struggles, and sexuality; the physical edition placing third in 2017’s Kono Manga ga Sugoi!’s female category as a testament to its enduring impact. It has even been licensed for a western release courtesy of Seven Seas, slated to be released in June this year.

But to understand why My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness has turned into something of a cultural phenomenon, despite spanning less than 150 pages in total, it is worth exploring the profound weight of the sociocultural context suffusing Nagata’s highly personal narrative which it feels as if a generation have found themselves closely mirrored by. Despite the western sphere’s uphill struggle with validating mental health issues, contemporary Japanese society continues to eschew the notion, perceiving mental ministrations as something to be kept shut tightly behind closed doors and contained deep within the confines of the individual’s mind. With its collectivist society placing an emphasis on the family as a harmonious unit above all, pressures bloom in the shade.

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