On today’s episode of Children’s Writer Having Happy Fun Times: I’ve been tremendously enjoying my super-intermittent Twitter conversation with FRESH OFF THE BOAT star Hudson Yang, whose desire to play Vincent Wu in the imaginary movie version of GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES put a nearly unhinged note of cheer into my day. I offered to send him a signed copy of the book, to which he responded with an enthusiastic yes, and how great is it that he’s excited to have a signed copy of my book? Young fella’s a Hollywood star, after all, and I imagine he has opportunities to meet all kinds of starry-eye-inducing people – his Twitter avatar’s a picture of himself with NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, for crying out loud. He’s still happy about getting a signed book from an obscure dude like me, though. Remarkable. I want to serve up major, major props to Hudson, who seriously made my day, and Hudson’s dad, who I’ve discovered I have more than one mutual friend with, and who’s clearly putting a foot way up in the hindquarters of that whole “raising a family” thing. #fotb
The other day Sarah Park Dahlen, Assistant Professor for LIS at St. Catherine’s University, children’s literature scholar, and generally fantastic human being, posted a Facebook status update to let people know that my blog remains without a name. The reason my blog has been kinda sorta nameless for lo these many months is because, well, it used to have a problematic name. It was once called “Mike Jung’s Little Bloggy Wog,” a name which I liked for its entirely appropriate lack of gravity, and which I am now rather horrified by because I now know that “wog” is a patently offensive and racist term that’s used against people of color in Australia and the U.K.
I believe it was Kurtis Scaletta who brought it to my attention – he was helpfully straightforward about telling me, and while I would have tried to fully accept that new information even if it had been delivered with heat or rancor, I did and do appreciate the very even-keeled way Kurtis told me.
I had no idea – a depressingly frequent occurrence for me, alas – and I wish I could say i leaped into action and changed the name of the blog immediately, but I didn’t. I let it sit for a pretty long time, and it was only after the spectacular arrival of We Need Diverse Books that I got rid of the name, substituting “Mike Jung’s Blog Needs A New Name” in its place. It’s remained that way for some time, but Sarah’s post has renewed my motivation to get it done.
So! A contest, then. I’ll keep it simple: to enter, just leave a comment on this post with your suggestions for my blog’s new name. You can suggest as many names as you like, because who am I to throw a lariat around your creative impulses? I’ll close entries on Friday, August 21, and announce the winning selection on Monday, August 24. I’ll warn you now that I have no selection criteria beyond “I like THIS one because it amuses me,” so that’s as much guidance as you get. Er…sorry? WAIT, I’M NOT ACTUALLY SORRY
Since the two parties who’ve done the most to spur me to this action are both Minnesotans, let’s make the prize a Minnesota-centric one. If your suggestion is the one I pick, I’ll send you this small-but-tasty package of children’s paperbacks written by Minnesota authors:
- The Tanglewood Terror by Kurtis Scaletta
- Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi
- The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
- The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
So come on, readers of my sadly neglected blog, bring the nomenclature. And thanks.
I say stuff like this pretty often, but that’s because it bears repeating, so here it is again: I have not always been successful in being a social creature. I’ve spent long periods of time (notably during my adolescence and young adulthood) in which it seemed like I didn’t have a single friend in the world; feelings of isolation and loneliness have brought me to my knees many, many times. So the fact that the children’s literature community swung its doors wide open when I knocked is still an astonishing thing to me, something that almost defies belief. I’ve gotten to know people in this business who floor me with their creative brilliance, intellectual depth, generosity of spirit, and fully-lived ideals. I have the great good fortune of being able to mentally point to people throughout this industry and think “That person! That amazing person RIGHT THERE! Look at what she does with her life! Look at how he gives to people! They take my breath away! I get to call him my colleague! I get to call her my friend!”
It feels bloody miraculous to me, and I doubt it will ever stop feeling miraculous, you know what I’m saying?