How it is is a story series that I wanted to do because it is based on college. As my final chapter of college comes to a close, I figured it would be a perfect way for me to transition into adulthood and forget about my student life.
Originally, the story was titled “Just The Way You Are” and was inspired by Koda Kumi’s song by the same name. The song encompassed the idea of self-loving and friendship, but the story I was writing sort of shifted away from that theme. Therefore, I changed the title towards the middle of writing it to “How it is”, a song by Kaskade, which is a fairly sad song, but it hit the nail on the head when it came to the story’s overarching theme of acceptance and how it is not always an easy road to traverse. In a lot of ways, this story shared themes with Road Movie, but I wanted this to be less romantic, and more platonic. I did not want any of the characters to be in relationships for that reason.
Tarou’s original name was Subaru, but I changed it mostly because I felt like Tarou sounded more humble, and that would be reflective on how Tarou was not always this suave and charming person outwardly. A lot of his personality traits were actually based off of several of mine, specifically ones that I was told to be ashamed of: being a “follower” and being really caring and protective of others specifically.
Valerie was originally named Melody, but I changed it simply because the name did not suit her personality. I feel like somebody named Melody would be artsy and soft-spoken, while somebody with a name like Valerie would be more direct and focused. Her hospitality and cooking background made her a much easier character for me to write for, compared to Tarou’s performing arts and Timmy’s computer engineering backgrounds, which I had to do some research on to better understand the curriculum.
Timmy was inspired by a couple people who actually mistreated me in the past. I have met a lot of Timmy Li’s in the past and while it is annoying that in real life, most of them never come around or have the balls to be confrontational, this is a story, so I figured I would end it on a happier note with Timmy coming around and accepting his mistakes, rather than running away from them like the person who inspired this character did.
The idea of doing three main characters was a bit of a challenge, and in retrospect, I do feel as if Timmy and Tarou were squished into one plot while Valerie had her own separate plot for the majority of the story. I struggled with balancing the three characters equally, and in the end, I feel like Timmy got the short end of the stick in terms of written-down character development. While the readers can tell that he changed his perspective, they don’t necessarily see how he began to come around, something I wish I could have done a better job at.
I was initially worried that there were too many cameos or nods to my other works; Valerie and Janice competed in my unpublished story series, Warrior Chef, while Logan Photography is an obvious nod to Dakota Logan from Road Movie. However, since I hardly mention the name of Tarou’s modeling agency and I never published the 30+ installments of Warrior Chef that I have written over the past 5 years, I figured it would be okay to include those.
How it is was a difficult story for me to write because a lot of these events were inspired by recent things that have happened to me, and I was questioning if I would be emotionally or mentally strong enough to write this. In the end, I decided to do it because it was a story I need to tell for my own mental health. Hopefully the story invokes hope and helps people understand that others may come off a certain way, but it is all in perspective. Open minds open doors, so to speak.