Three-hour drawing of an anatomical heart done with Prismacolor colored pencils.
Tragic. Heartbreaking. Powerful. Riveting. Brutal. These are some of the words that readers have used to describe Masaji Ishikawa’s memoir A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape From North Korea. First published in Japan in 2000, the book spans Ishikawa’s entire life, from his birth in Japan in 1947 to his escape from North Korea in 1996. What happens in between is a harrowing and critical look at what it means to live in a totalitarian state.
At the beginning of this year, my goal was to read 24 books by the end of the year. With only a couple days left in 2017, I throw in the towel. Although I didn’t hit the goal, I’m happy to report that I read 17 novels this year! A great jumpstart to getting back into reading. I’m looking forward to doing even better numbers next year. In the meantime, I take some time to look back on what I read this year.
I had a nice little blogging streak going, and then I fell off the wagon. There are a ton of things I could blame: work, family, travel, friends in town, blah, blah, blah, blah. But the truth is, I just don’t care about what I’m writing, so it’s all disposable. Offline, I’ve been working on short stories, and those aren’t working out either. It all feels so dissatisfying, and who wants to set time aside for writing when it’s not enjoyable?
Enter National Novel Writing Month, an opportunity to join a community of people blasting through what’ll become the first draft of their novels. I’ve heard about it before, friends have recommended it, and I’d always thought about doing it, but there was always some reason not to. The idea is simple; write a 50,000-word novel. Making it a quantitative vs. qualitative goal makes the process more accessible and attainable for me, a first-time novel-writer. I mean, I’m pretty sure I get through way more than 50K words in just a week’s worth of work emails. This will be a cinch.