By Emily Clute
Since the beginning of this pandemic, many people have been using this newly-found time at home to try new things-- some mastered baking bread from scratch, some learned how to cut hair, and others spent hours mastering new TikTok dance challenges. One UAlbany student, however, decided to do something different-- she published her first book.
Karin Cho, a senior in the UAlbany Journalism program, released “Moonlight Confessions,” on August 30th. Cho describes the book as “a collection of heartfelt poems … regarding love, heartbreak, and loss,” which features poetry, extended prose, and one short story about her life experiences.
When the pandemic hit campus this March, Cho found herself with plenty of time for self-reflection-- and from that reflection came “Moonlight Confessions.” “I think when you have that much time by yourself and you don’t really do anything, your mind wanders-- and I’m a really emotional girl too, so naturally, I would just feel a lot and I would resort to just writing,” says Cho.
Cho began her writing career with an online writing blog, but after a year had passed, she found the blog was no longer enough to fulfill herself. I’ve always loved writing, and it was always an outlet for me, it was very therapeutic,” Cho explains, “ It just wasn’t making me feel happy anymore, so I wanted to challenge myself. And so I thought of this kind of crazy idea of, what if I published my work officially?”
After deciding to write her own book in the spring, Cho described the publication process as surprisingly “very quick.” Using some pieces she’d written last semester, she added the pieces she’d written during her pandemic-inspired reflections, and was able to publish “Moonlight Confessions” by late August.
“It’s kind of surreal. A lot of people who know me definitely didn’t ever expect-- I didn’t even expect myself to do something like this,” says Cho. “Just a couple of years ago I didn’t even really care about school or any of my future plans, so it’s really shocking.”
When asked what her greatest takeaways from the process were, Cho was overwhelmed-- “Oh my god, there’s so many!”-- but the one that stood out to her was just how much of her book came from herself. When it came to putting her book together, Cho put in a vast majority of the work-- the writing, editing, formatting, and cover design were all done by Cho, something she is incredibly proud of.
“I struggled with codependency all my life, so the fact that I was able to do this on my end kind of reinforces the idea that like, wow, I can do this myself, and I can do amazing things,” says Cho.
Throughout the publication process, Cho feels she discovered a lot about herself. “I realized how much of a hard worker I am. That’s not really something I give myself credit for, or ever really picked up on,” says Cho. “I knew I was passionate and I knew I had drive, but to publish my own book at 21 and not only that but have extremely vulnerable stories inside of everything that I’ve put my heart to, I think it’s very courageous.”
While Cho hopes to make a career in creative writing, it wasn’t her original plan. She came to UAlbany as a criminal justice major and a hopeful lawyer, briefly considered social work, and entered the journalism program before she realized creative writing was her real passion. “I feel like everyone at some point in their lives, they just sort of gravitate towards what they’re supposed to do.”
For those who hope to publish someday, Cho has some advice. “I would say, I know it sounds like a big idea and it might even become overwhelming at times, but let that fire inspire you even more. Because it’s such a grandiose kind of idea it’s like, work even harder for it because it can happen… I’m going to be cheesy and say of course put heart into everything, make sure everything is coming from you.” Cho also recommends that writers edit as much as they can, get outside perspectives, and add illustrations to their writing when possible to add character to their book.
The featured illustrations were done by her artist, Winny Chen, and the book was published by Absolute Author Publishing House and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
“Moonlight Confessions” is now available for purchase through Amazon. More on Cho and her writing can be found on Instagram at @writerkarin.