Cover Photo: This image is a production still from the movie LOVE ACTUALLY; it's the scene where Colin Firth's character loses all his papers to the wind as he is sitting at a desk in front of a lake. In this still, he sits at the desk as his papers fly away, a shocked expression on his face.
Production still of 'Love Actually'/StudioCanal/Working Title Films/DNA Films

Writing Down the Ghosts

My whole process of writing is tricking my brain into writing without realizing what I’m doing, to make myself write even when the idea of writing instills a vomity feeling in my gut.

Ted Lasso

Oh, Inverted World


when I actually look at them

Just freewrite

A picture of the author's notebook with whale words written down
photograph courtesy of the author

Any entry point is a good entry point, as long as you are entering.



A picture of the author's process, described in the essay
Photograph courtesy of the author; fragments became the essay "You Gave the Enemy a Face, and the Face was Mine"

As I cut up each chunk, I read it over. (This small scrap of paper seems manageable in a way that a full document does not.) Sometimes I realize I hate one line, or want to add something in it, and I make a tiny note in the margins to myself. Then I place it on the floor. Then I cut out the next chunk and place it down. Eventually, I come to some chunks that might be better being placed before the previous chunks, or that I know belong later, or that I throw away because I don’t like them at all. I set chunks aside to be discarded. I move things around. See how that looks, see how it feels.

A picture of the author's process, described in the essay
Photograph courtesy of the author

This is a picture of the author's map for this article
Photograph courtesy of the author; the author's map for this essay

Love Actually



Jami Nakamura Lin is the author of THE NIGHT PARADE (Mariner Books/HarperCollins and Scribe UK 2023), an illustrated memoir that uses yokai & other Japanese , Taiwanese, & Okinawan  folklore to investigate what haunts us.  A former Catapult columnist, she's written for the New York Times, Electric Literature, and other publications. 

Jami has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts/Japan-US Friendship Commission, Yaddo, Sewanee, and We Need Diverse Books.

Twitter: @jaminlin /