Mike Jung

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sometimes people disagree with me

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I don’t constantly post stuff that’s political in nature, but I’m not terribly shy about it. People respond, of course, and it’s been interesting to discover who among my FB friends disagrees with the things I post, and in what way. That should be expected, I suppose – my FB friends collectively skew in the politically progressive direction, but it’s a big old world. People have lots of different opinions. So I’ll discover that specific people I already like, respect, and previously knew only in a writing-related context have ideological differences with me, sometimes in ways that I’d probably have to work very, very hard to get past if I wanted to try and establish a NEW friendship. But in these cases, the friendship is already there, and thus far the newly discovered differences in opinion haven’t affected my feelings of friendship and affection for the people who hold those opinions. It’s not a large number of people, but it’s not zero either. That’s a good thing, right? I think that’s a good thing.

Toughness

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2014 at 8:21 am

I’m not naturally tough in the way our society tends to define it, which has been a complicated thing throughout my life. I’ve experienced plenty of moments in which an ability to step up and be confrontational, respond forcefully to aggression, and not turn the other cheek would probably have been a good thing. These days I worry about it most in relation to my son – he’s a sweet, gentle, affectionate boy, and we live in a society that does not value those qualities in boys and men. Our society celebrates and rewards the alpha male who takes what he wants without asking, conceals emotion and stiff-arms vulnerability, and stands with a fist. I’ve never even come close to being that kind of person. I believe I can teach my son kindness and generosity, at least in the flawed and sputtering way I do everything, and I believe we need more men of kindness and generosity. However, I don’t know how to teach him toughness that intersects with kindness and generosity in a way that mirrors my values; I really don’t know how to teach him toughness in any way. That worries me.

Jay

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 10:18 pm

The very first time I met Jay Asher was at the SCBWI Summer Conference in 2010. We were in a big crush of people in the banquet hall, it was chaos, I introduced myself on the spur of the moment, and I’d be shocked if Jay remembers. I remember thinking he seemed a bit withdrawn, and wondering if it was because he faced a constant stream of random people like me saying “OMG YOU’RE JAY ASHER” and whatnot.

We met in a more substantial way two years later at my first-ever faculty gig, at the 2012 Kansas SCBWI conference. We had a couple of real conversations, and I thought “oh, he’s an introvert! Which is awesome because I AM TOO!” I hadn’t suspected that before just because, you know, Disco Mermaids, eighteen bazillion speaking gigs, etc., am I right? It’s easy to overlook the truth in the glare of the lights, I suppose.

We keep running into each other here and there, and something I like about Jay is the fact that he appears to truly grasp the gigantic scope of what’s happened to him. He’s clearly grateful and happy about his career, but he also gives the distinct impression of a man thinking “dude, this $*%& is intense and out of control!” Which seems like an eminently sane and human response. It seems real, you know? I like people who are real. I’m glad I get to hang out with Jay every so often, even if it’s usually just for a short while.

Moment of Gratitude: Reflecting on the Agent Hunt

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Moment of gratitude: I accepted an offer of representation from the fabulous Ammi-Joan Paquette back in 2010, and I’ve yet to feel anything other than slobberingly good about that decision. However, signing with Joan was the culminating moment of an agent search process that showed me what a kind, generous, and encouraging community of professionals I was about to join, because I received so many offers of help in my agent search.

I didn’t ask anyone for a referral because I felt really, really uncomfortable with the idea of imposing on anyone like that, but luckily for me people offered me those referrals on their own. More than one of them were from EMLA clients, which played no small role in my final decision, but they weren’t the only ones. Pretty much all of those referrals came from people I’d only communicated with online, although I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of those people face-to-face, and I consider all of those people my friends, whether we’ve met in person or not.

Here’s another one of those moments in which I suppose I could take some credit for myself, because it’s true that I’ve always tried to be a positive, supportive, and emotionally honest member of the kidlit tribe. I try very hard to maintain the belief that people deserve to be lifted up, even in the relatively small ways that I’m capable of. However, that kind of effort isn’t received well in every professional arena. It can be met with suspicion, dismissal, or scorn. It can be perceived as weakness.

The kidlit tribe doesn’t appear to see it that way, however. I’ve tried to be kind and generous, but the reason I’m able to keep trying is because this business is filled with people whose kindness and generosity far surpass my own. I’ve benefited enormously from that collective spirit of kindness, and every so often it knocks me into a state of slack-jawed amazement. It did during my agent-seeking years, and it still does today.

Memorial Day

In Uncategorized on May 26, 2014 at 6:33 am

I haven’t served in the military and I’m not from a military family, so the true meaning of Memorial Day is not one I’ve had to experience on a deep emotional level. I don’t know that this is good or bad; I suspect it just is what it is given that we all have our unique paths through the world, although I’m not opposed to the idea of facing less tragedy in life rather than more. I also don’t believe this particular void in my own life experience bars me from having and expressing my opinions about the way our military forces are recruited, deployed, and treated upon their return – it’s one of those rights that our servicemen and servicewomen are explicitly charged with protecting, after all.

However, it’s easy for me to put aside thoughts of grief and loss relating to military service when I’m not the one who’s had to experience them, and while being reminded of those things doesn’t require a terribly high level of commitment or risk, it sure seems like a worthwhile thing to spend at least part of this holiday on. I know our military families have experienced tragedy on a horrifying scale, and continue to experience it on a daily basis.

I can’t truly imagine what it feels like to suffer that particular kind of loss, but no matter how I might feel about decisions made by our military leaders and actions taken by our soldiers on the ground, I can try to genuinely honor the sacrifices made by them and their families, because at their extremes, those sacrifices are so, so much greater than the sacrifices most of us make during the course of our own daily lives.

Dad

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2014 at 10:18 pm

I left home for college in the fall of 1986, and I was not ready. I was emotionally immature and psychologically damaged; I’d spent far too much of my high school tenure in self-hating isolation; and my lack of success in both the academic and social fields felt absolute. Predictably, I experienced a wretched first year that resulted in academic suspension. Read the rest of this entry »

Sacrifice

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I’m gonna write while the rest of the family is at a second grade birthday party. Now, there are definitely some pluses to skipping the second grade birthday party, primarily the fact that hanging around and making chitchat with other parents for 2+ hours is a pretty good match for my personal description of hell, being the deeply introverted, socially maladjusted individual I am. But I’m also missing out on things like the jubilant expression on the 2.42 year old’s face as he pings around inside a bouncy house, or the deep satisfaction on the 7.67 year old’s face as she scores her first slice of cake. I’m doing it anyway, because I want this career, and I intend to have it. But the sacrifice is real, and it’s not easy; it’s never easy.

Arthur

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I’m pretty sure it was sometime around this day in 2010 when Arthur A. Levine sent me a Facebook friend request. It’s probably easy to imagine working with Arthur as a very “yes Arthur, whatever you say, Arthur” kind of scenario if you don’t actually know him as a person – his gargantuan editorial achievements and place in publishing history are impossible to dispute, after all, and viewing him solely through the lens of those things undoubtedly results in a highly distorted, non-reality-based image. It’s easier to be intimidated or awestruck by an archetypical construct of a Legendary New York Editor than by the editor as a real person, you know what I mean?

Lucky for me I actually got to know Arthur as the genuine, wonderful human being he is first. I much prefer to see him through the lens of his humanity – it’s a more accurate way to perceive anyone, and personally I prefer working with a real, live human being to working with a fantasy person built from assorted shards of reputation, fandom, and media coverage. It’s true that I have no basis for comparison – I’ve only published one book, and while I’ve worked with other editors on short pieces, novels are a whole different can of hungry caterpillars. But it’s hard to imagine working with an editor who I trust more than I trust Arthur.

Naptime Reading

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2014 at 8:56 am

After lunch on Sunday Miranda and the 3.33 year old both took a nap, at which point the 7.59 year old plucked at my sleeve, pointed at the couch, and said “Da-da, cuddle!” So we grabbed our books (THE HERO AND THE CROWN for me, ANIMORPHS for her) and settled ourselves in the couch (me with my feet on the ottoman, her with her feet on the far armrest and her head on my stomach) for a solid hour and a half of naptime reading.

She made one or two comments about the comfortable squishiness of my belly; I said something about the increasing lankiness of her legs; and I secretly paused to listen every time she giggled or drew in a sharp breath over something she’d just read. I also paused regularly to stroke her hair and kiss her on the top of the head, and every so often she’d reach for my arm and clasp it a little more firmly across her midriff.

It was a very quiet 90 minute stretch. Quiet, contemplative, and utterly glorious. Spontaneously bursting into flames of happiness wouldn’t have surprised me at all.

The 3.23 Year Old’s Favorite Song

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm

This morning as I got ready for work I walked past the kids’ bedroom, where the 3.23 year old was putting on his favorite stripey shirt while unselfconsciously singing his current favorite song, “You’ve Got a Friend.” I paused to listen to his soft, high-pitched voice, with its unmodulated breathiness and its blurry imprecision on the fricatives, and it occurred to me that some people might perceive such a moment as thoroughly mundane – banal, even, if viewed through a lens of uninvolvement – but of course I’m as far from uninvolved as can be. Hearing my son sing about friendship is among the simplest of pleasures, but it’s also one of the most profoundly moving experiences I can imagine having, and I stood there for a minute or two, listening, feeling my love for him fill me up, astonished by my good fortune at having this amazing boy in my life.

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