|Sun Hee and her daughter in Montreal last summer|
Annette: What promoted you to pursue writing even though you are the mother of a young child?
Sun Hee: My daughter turning three was a turning point in my life as a mom. I grew up in South Korea, and I was taught English in the ESL (English as a Second Language) program. My daughter, on the other hand, was born in Montreal, Canada, but technically grew up in Chicago. My husband and I speak English at home, and thus our daughter picked up English naturally early on. As she got older, her language exploded. When she asked questions, I often didn’t know how to explain things in English. I started to realize that our communication was limited due to my lack of vocabulary. That’s how I started to write – to calm my frustration and to learn English by writing, and ultimately to be able to communicate with my daughter, so that I could build a strong bond between us and tell my stories in a way that she could understand.
How did you find time to write before your daughter was in pre-school?
During my daughter’s nap time, I chose to write even though I was exhausted. When we moved to Chicago in September 2007, my daughter was only two months old. Since we didn’t have any family members or friends, most of time I was home alone with her while my husband was at work. To soothe my loneliness and postpartum depression (I didn’t know about this at the time, but now I think that is what I went through), I threw myself into writing in Korean. Later on, I could only write after she went to bed at night, as I couldn’t really focus on my writing when she was awake.
Do you actually use the time she’s in pre-school to write? Or do other chores get in the way?
I force myself to use the time when my daughter’s in pre-K to write. If I go home after drop her off, I head for the dishes or the laundry. I can’t help myself. But I realized that those chores could wait, so I resolved to go to the café near her school to write or read. Even if I don’t get much done, I always feel satisfied and happy because I did something for myself during the day.
Do you have a particular writing routine?
My writing is very much related to sparks of inspiration. I write whenever a tangled emotion needs to come out, so impromptu verse or quick idea sketches are handy. I do, however, have a writing routine when it comes to the process of a longer piece like the manuscript of my memoir. I always start by listening to selected music and writing a short paragraph to warm up, just like warming up before you play sports.
Do you have a particular place where you write?
I like to write in a place where I can be isolated, in the living room at night, in a café, or a Write-a-Thon at StoryStudio Chicago. When I decide to write, I don’t mind sitting for 6-7 hours straight. I just like sitting in one spot as long as I have something to munch and drink lots of water.