Interview with Kumi Nelson, Runner Up in the WOW! Q4 Creative Nonfiction Contest

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Kumi was born and raised in Japan and grew up reading Akutagawa and Dazai in Japanese until she met her American husband and moved to the U.S. After quitting her “real job,” she started to write, not in Japanese but in English, and joined the local writer’s workshop where the fearless facilitator convinced her to enter her story into a contest.

Kumi currently lives in the jungle with two vicious dogs, Kabi and Sabi, and posts her stories and doodles on her blog,

Read Kumi's touching essay here and then return to learn more about this talented writer.

WOW: Kumi, welcome and thank you for being here today. “Dogs and a Pig,” is a about a very painful subject—moving on from the personal loss of your husband. Was it difficult to get the first few drafts down?

Kumi: Writing "our" story is always tough. I miss "us" and get emotional. Time helps, and I was ready to write "my" story, a pledge to keep going. It somehow went from "I can't wait for today to be over" to "I can't wait for today to be over so tomorrow can start." Once I decided to write for the contest, I focused on writing a contest-worthy piece.

WOW: Your bio says you began writing in earnest after quitting your “real job.” What line of work were you in and what drew you to writing?

Kumi: My first job after graduating from high school was working in the payroll department of a large company. Since then, I have worked for airlines and in retail. I like reading and had scribbled stories in Japanese before I started to write in English. When did I realize I enjoyed writing? I don't know. I never believed I could be anything. Those who know what they're meant to do are very lucky. One day, it might happen to me. I did fancy being somebody as my childhood dream jobs fluctuated: a doctor, a teacher, a cartoonist, an orphanage director, a radio talk show host, and, of course, a writer.

WOW: What prompted you to join your local writers’ workshop and how has it helped shape your writing?

Kumi: I wanted to write better posts on my blog, and the ad of the writers' workshop for beginners caught my eye. There, the facilitator taught us the basics, and I was eventually invited to join the writers’ group. I was intimidated at first, but they have been very encouraging. Expert advice and feedback and a group of supportive people are the catalysts to better rewrites, I believe.

WOW: Yes, it certainly does! One of the things that makes this piece stand out so much is the tension you were able to embed with the wild pig. I was on the edge of my seat! Are these wild pigs a common occurrence in your life because of where you live?

Kumi: We never used to have this much problem. It must be the effect of climate change. Oink oink, nudge nudge.

WOW: I'm not going to argue with you there! Are the drawings on your blog also done by you? They are a great addition to your blog posts. What are some of your favorite creative outlets?

Kumi: I do impose my quirks on the readers (chuckle). All forms of purging inspire me — anything to tell a story.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Like you, I was worried and anxious. What was going to happen with that face-off between Kumi and the wild pig? Thanks for doing this interview and providing a link to Kumi's essay. I thoroughly enjoyed it (once I found out Kumi and the dogs were unhurt by the wild pig encounter.)

Kumi--Your story had me worried. Would you get hurt by that wild pig? Would your dogs bolt out, trying to save you, and they would get hurt as well? (I'm a true dog person, so a canine getting injured is just as bad--sometimes worse, depending on the person I'm comparing the dog to--as a human getting hurt.) I was relieved at the end...

I would certainly be interested in reading any book you write. A book of vignettes of your life and healing now? A book about your journey to where you are now? A (sometimes humorous and sometimes perilous) "how to live in the jungle" book? I don't mean to oink-nudge you into something you have no desire to do. I just wanted to let you know you DO have readers who would enjoy and learn from your writing... and to remind you that you DO have a gift.

Share that gift with the world, Kumi.

Kumi Nelson said...

Thank you for your encouraging words, Ms. Sioux.

clcouch said...

Kumi (Nelkumi), I enjoy reading your blog. Your voice is direct and refreshing. I don't know what to say about your loss. I'm sorry, certainly. I imagine there's a part of you that never really adapts, though I hope life has fullness for you.

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