Wednesday, January 18, 2012


As someone who grew up only knowing about tigers in zoos, it's strange, still, to imagine that they lived in the mountains in Korea but are gone now. The photography in this book is lovely but either the translation or the original text or both are difficult to stomach. There is a tendency towards flowery and poetic Korean that sounds awful when rendered into English. And this one is so pro-Korea that it's embarrassing. But there is still plenty to be gleaned.

Yesterday I had my first eye exam in years and was relieved to learn that everything is fine and I don't even need a new prescription. It was awful not to be able to read or use the computer or do any hand work b/c of the drops, which made me realize where most of my life occurs, between six inches and two feet in front of my face. I'm re-reading (skimming, actually) Annie Dillard's The Writing Life to soothe some of my recent panic mixed with depression about the progress of my book. I'm waiting for two edits and don't want to make changes until I see those notes, but I know there is So Much Work To Be Done. But ever since the fall, if I'm not working on that book, I feel like I am doing nothing whatsoever. I don't like that feeling.

One of my readers yesterday noted something funny. She said, "You write exactly the same way that you think!!" She said the detail was overwhelming, and a sign of mental illness if you didn't know me, yet the same trait helps me do important research. I'm relieved that my words match my brain, since I'm not sure that that is true of everyone (I assume this mismatch comes from poor writing education, which I assume comes partly from the fact that it is a very hard thing to teach). I thought about how much I have been trying to censor and edit on this blog, and how hard it is, and how it depresses me, since what comes out feels like a drugged version of what is in my head. I am the same way in my personal correspondence, and haven't figured out how to temper it. It goes like this:

Friend: "Greeting! Update. Appropriate answers to questions. Closing."
Me: "Incredibly excited greeting!!! Avalanche of personal information and updates. Followed by more TMI. And a blow-by-blow description of some random recent event that any other person would not even have noticed. Effusive closing, ten pages later."

Okay, that is slightly exaggerated. But I always feel guilty whenever I press send, and worry afterwards about how this friend will likely not want to be my friend anymore. But when I try to edit out most of it, it sounds like me, drugged. I still haven't figured it out with my closest confidantes, but I will have to figure it out soon with this manuscript.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I hope your friend in that post is me, so I can tell you how much I love getting your emails. They are pretty much the only written correspondence I get that has any substance. And responding to you always makes me take time to think about my answers, which makes me proud. So, if I'm not the friend you are talking about, can I be?

  3. omg! that profile pic is hilarious. love it. and i love you. thanks for that.


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