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31 Dec 2009

Backward and forward – I suppose apologies are in order. It has been three weeks since I last posted here, and I had been saying how I was hoping to be able to post more regularly. Well, obviously that didn’t happen. Let’s just say I have been suffering from a lack of motivation lately and leave it at that. I will make no promises for the future, except to say that I will likely be quite busy at the beginning of next year (more on this in a moment).

“I am more than ready to wave goodbye to 2009 and hit the ground running in 2010.”

We are now less than an hour away from the new year here in Korea, and I thought I would take a moment to look briefly back over the past year before looking forward to 2010. And I’m serious when I say “briefly”—the very idea of doing a detailed “year in review” right now sets my teeth on edge. I can’t rightly say why, but I think it has something to do with having a very harried end of the year and just wanting to leave the past in the past.

But there were definitely some good moments this past year. In terms of my writing and translating, two seemingly insignificant first steps were taken. After translating for Koreana magazine for around seven years, I finally got the chance to write a column for the magazine. I’ve written three of them so far, and for the most part I have been pleased with them. I’m hoping this will lead to bigger and better things later on, or at least give me experience that I can use down the road. Also, after translating literature on and off for years, I finally had a short story published in a KLTI publication. Again, it’s a small step, but you have to start somewhere.

We also visited the States over the summer and got to spend some time with my family. We were able to do a lot of fun things while we were there, such as visit Colonial Williamsburg, spend some time in the city, hike along the Appalachian Trail for a day, and watch as my brother Brian got his handmade scented candle business off the ground. Unfortunately, I failed to put up any galleries of the many photos we took while we were there. This is something I still want to do, but it is going to have to wait a while.

I’m sure a bunch of other things happened, but like I said, this is a very brief look. Right now I am more than ready to wave goodbye to 2009 and hit the ground running in 2010. My focus is mostly short-term: having finished my work for the year today, tomorrow I will begin turning to a few things that need my immediate attention. One is my article for the next issue of Koreana. This time I am not writing my usual column, but one of the three “special feature” articles. Not only are these more prominently featured in the magazine, but I get almost twice as much page space, so it will be nice to stretch out my legs a bit, so to speak. Of course, I will have my usual translation to do for the magazine as well. I also have to do one last thing for the history of Korean literature book (can you believe that’s still not done?), but it is a fairly minor thing that should only take me about a day, and then it’s all up to the publisher. Finally, I have some loose ends to tie up before I can begin my dissertation hibernation period—some books to read, tables to prepare, etc.

I expect all of this to take me to the end of the second week of January, at which point the hibernation begins. When the hibernation is over, I hope to have a complete draft of my dissertation in hand. It will be rough and need a lot of work, but at least it will be a full draft. Then it will be a matter of editing, revising, chopping, supplementing, and otherwise polishing up this draft for submission around the end of March. I don’t know the exact schedule yet, but sometime in April I will be giving a brief (ten or fifteen minutes I think) oral presentation followed by a discussion session. If my professors decide I have done a good enough job, I will get the green light to revise this draft even further and submit it for review by the committee. Then the actual defense will take place, and if I survive that I will make my final revisions and edits and submit the final draft. As I said, I don’t know the exact schedule, but this last step in the process will take place sometime in the summer.

Of course, this is all based on the assumption that I will actually be ready for the oral presentation. That is really the big hill that everyone has to get over—the defense is important, of course, but if you can pull things together for the oral presentation and get the green light, you have a very good chance of reaching the finish line. So right now I am focused on getting the draft done and then getting that draft ready for the first submission. Since I will be busier once the semester starts (next March), ideally I would like to have everything done by the end of February. That is my goal, even if it may turn out to be wishful thinking.

As for the rest of the year... well, to be honest, it’s a bit hard to see past the dissertation. I’m now at the point where I can imagine life without the dissertation hanging over my head, and I have thought of a lot of things that I would like to do, but it’s hard to perceive this as a future reality as opposed to just a daydream. I’ll probably have a better idea of what will happen next if and when the end of the dissertation becomes more of a reality to me.

So I suppose that’s all I can say at this point, except to say that I hope you have had a good year, and that 2010 will hold many blessings for you and your loved ones. See you next year.

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