As my time in Korea went by, my name got out. Nanoomi.net (alas, the link has died) was importantly involved in this and it was my extreme good luck to get dragged into Nanoomi by Cynthia Yoo (affectionately known our “small-faced and fearless leader”). Nanoomi is an indescribable combination of interested foreigners, Koreans with mad moxie, and some super-coding monsters in the background cranking out crazy web-edifices intended to bridge Korea to the world and the world to Korea. To be honest I still don’t feel I entirely understand what Nanoomi is, but I do know that I found it a great place to meet people, and Nanoomi appeared on the expat blog scene at just the same time as Roboseyo (Rob Ouwehand) was struggling to put together a blogger community in Seoul. The two groups had an obvious opportunity for confluence, and that meeting of minds occurred.
Nanoomi allowed me to stand up in front of groups of cutting-edge Koreans and present my take on Korean literature and its lack of international ubiquity. This led to coverage in the Korean press, and then to my achieving a reputation as interviewable about Korean literature. Which is all pretty good.
It was also in some ways weird. At 51 years old (US years) I am way out of the Nanoomi demographic and I certainly feel that tension in Nanoomi circles, where everyone is unwrinkled and fresh. This is despite the fact that my immaturity is legendary enough that it should overcome any biological realities!
An example of that immaturity can be found, I think, in the following exchange of emails between Rob and I as we worked (still do) with Cynthia to begin a book on the blogger experience in Korea. After a meeting we decided it was time to go public to our Nanoomi counterparts, but we had some concerns about involvement, and so wanted our initial announcement to not raise too many hopes, or to create expectations that this would be some kind of expat free-for-all. Having had eight years experience publishing catalogs, schedules, and advertisements of various sorts, I knew that any kind of publication brings the nutcases out of their… uh.. out of their nut cases?
I’d been a marketing director at a community college district and that experience had been relevatory. No one would ever think of walking into an operation and telling a doctor what they should be cutting. No one would walk into a professor’s classroom and tell them what to teach and how to do it. I think we all trust the plumber to get the pipes cleaned. But if you are a marketer/publisher? Everyone is an expert and is happy to tell you what to do and how to spend your money. By “expert,” I mean massive pain in the ass. ^^
Anyway.. at Nanoomi we wanted to be careful with our initial communication so that nothing undeliverable was promised, and we didn’t set up a situation in which feelings would be hurt later. I began with something I thought was rather businesslike (LOL except for the Old Man from Nantucket!):
Nanoomi, along with Korean online publisher readbuild and a bricks-and-mortar publisher, is starting to put together a book on the Korean expat experience. The book will be published online (www.readbuild.com) and translated into Korean for publication here in South Korea. It’s audience will be English readers overseas, and Korean readers here in Korea. At this point we are asking anyone who might be interested to contact us with their prospective contribution. Contributions should be relatively brief (we really expect nothing over 2,000 words) and should be appropriate in tone for both Korean and international readers. From these proposed contributions we will try to develop some themes, and our small-face and fearless leader will enlist some Korean power bloggers to poll Koreans as to what they are interested in hearing from us. Contributions can be analytic, narrative, artistic, or from the “There Once Was a Man from Nantucket” ouvre of poetry.^^ An editorial board consisting of Cnythia Yoo, Hannah Bae, Rob Ouwehand, Charles Montgomery, Hyokon Zhiang from readbuild, and a representative of the Korean publisher will look over prospective contributions and also eventually edit them. All contributors must be ok with the idea that their work might be edited. At the time, all contributions will be unpaid, but as all Nanoomi projects, if there is profit to be made down the line, we will try to be fair.^^ Right now we are in the “checking it out” stage, but in a week or two we expect to get back to all of you with a specific timetable. Comments and suggestions are quite welcome.
To which Rob replied with a thorough and substantive response in which he edited and expanded my text to make it more explanatory and professional (he did cut out the Nantucket business). Which response he ended with:
You can also consider changing the sentence about contribution length as follows:
Contributions should be relatively brief (no more than one poop long, really: everybody hates when their feet fall asleep while they’re on the toilet) and should be appropriate in tone for both Korean and international readers.
So, yeah, the both of us are totally adult. In my response I accepted Rob’s changes and asked who should send the final email to the Nanoomi group. I suggested the small-faced Cynthia (whose name I mis-spelled). Rob replied:
I think it should come from Acnyith, and rewritten in the style of North Korean press releases. Or not.
As Rob was something like the captain of my soul, and the light of my loins, I did as he asked:
The Central Committee of Nanoomi, reflecting the love of the Korean people for our beloved leader Cynthia, along with Korean online publisher readbuild and a bricks-and-mortar publisher who reflects the national understanding of our military-first Juche, is starting to put together a book on the Korean expat experience. Plans were laid out during a meeting in which our small-faced and fearless leader took her time and talked with each and every worker while joyfully praising that citizens would be very happy to enjoy their time off reading our published work. Now, on the very streets of adoration [on which our small-faced leader finds delight], the joy of the fortunate people who are allowed to read, overflows without limit. The happy and patriotic writers of the internet will make a huge achievement, no less than that of novelists, through their untiring will while constructing the Book of Acnyith. How delightful is it to enjoy the New Year at the very place saturated with your perspiration and passion? How happy and proud are you? Submissions will be mandatory and the revanchist running dogs whose cowardly trespasses against the people of Nanoomi and Korea are as poisonous as the tastes in their mouths, will suffer the sting of a people unified in their vision of higher levels of literary production and support of our immortal small-faced leader.
We’re ALL completely adults! I suppose it is a cranky feature of my cranky old age that I’m cranky when the cool kids look beyond me.
Pretty soon I’m gonna tell those little punks to get the hell off my lawn!
Eh, perhaps I’m just not as cool as I think I am. ^^
But what Nanoomi did do (and still does), is connect me to a larger Korean speaking world, and on at least three occasions, hook me up with figures in Korean literature/translation who I would have had to spend years chasing down.
Nanoomi.net (ALAS, NO LONGER IN EXISTENCE!) check them out!