Hello!

Welcome to my website! My name is Yurina Ko, and I’m a writer, editor, and instructor living in Nashville, Tennessee. Whether you’re looking for some help with your writing, or you’re interested in reading some surreal literary fiction, I’m excited to share my work with you one way or the other.

A little about me…

I grew up moving back and forth between Tokyo and California, and I’ve spent most of my life feeling like a Japanese person living abroad, or a foreigner living in Japan. I have a B.A. in philosophy from Barnard College where I read a lot of Plato and Foucault, and learned that you can never ask too many questions about the world around you. Then I earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University, where I taught undergraduate writing for several years. After that I worked in the publishing industry in New York City in both editorial and publicity departments. And finally, in the summer of 2017, I made the big move to Nashville, Tennessee with my husband, where I started working freelance as an editor, copywriter, and creative writing instructor. You can click here for my full CV to learn more about my work experience, and here to read my published writing on The New Inquiry.

I’m also an aspiring novelist, and I’m currently hard at work on a novel about a young Japanese woman who returns to Tokyo after the March 2011 tsunami to find everything surreal and unrecognizable from the way she left it. The plot involves J-pop idols, innocent but twisted cartoons, the collective Japanese psyche after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the crazy inner-workings of an independent film studio, voice acting, and at the heart of all the chaos, a coming-of-age story about a girl who slowly finds her way back home. Visit my Personal Projects page to learn more about this, and other writing projects I’ve published.

My favorite writers include Elena Ferrante, Joan Didion, James Baldwin, Kazuo Ishiguro, Yoko Ogawa, Yoko Tawada, Anton Chekhov, Alexander Pushkin, Michel Foucault, Haruki Murakami, Kobo Abe, Donna Tartt… the list goes on!

Some other random qualities: I’m a violist in the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra, I love cats, and I’m a new mom to a baby boy.

I offer editing, copywriting, and creative writing services. Scroll down or visit the pages to learn more!

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Editing Services

1. Editing – Straight-forward, One-on-One, Remote

Every writer needs another pair of eyes to help them with their project. Whether you’re working on an essay, story, article, blog post, newsletter, email, product copy, press release, etc., I’m here to check for grammar, syntax, and general aesthetics.

2. Editing Mentorship – One-on-One, At least 2 sessions in person (in Nashville) or Skype

Are you serious about becoming a better writer and self-editor, but don’t know where to start? As an experienced writing instructor and writing consultant, I’m here to be your personal writing and editing coach. We’ll identify short- and long-term goals, try out various exercises, and work on polishing a project, one step at a time. Minimum of 2 one-hour sessions in person or Skype.

3. SPECIAL: Manuscript Reader – One-on-One, Remote

Do you have a partial or full manuscript of a short story collection, novel, memoir, or other non-fiction project, in desperate need of a fresh pair of eyes? Tell me what kind of reader you’re looking for, whether it’s a simple proof-reader or someone who can give you thorough feedback on overall structure, plot, and character development. I’d love to be your reader!

I also offer copywriting services and creative writing classes. Visit the pages to learn more!

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Copywriting Services

1. Working for Book Publishers – Remote

As an experienced editorial assistant and publicist, I’m available to write jacket copy, press releases, reading guides, sales conference materials, pitch letters, and more. Current clients include W. W. Norton & Company, Phaidon, and Hachette Book Group. Starting at $150/project.

2. Product Copy – Remote

Are you a business owner who needs someone to re-vamp the product copy so that your items sound just as awesome as you know they are? Shoot me an email with whatever you have on the product (photos, stats, current descriptions), and I’ll give it the pizzazz it deserves! Starting at $35/hour. 

3. Japanese-to-English Translation – Remote

With the Tokyo Olympics coming up in 2020, your Japanese business might be in need of an English page for all your potential English-speaking clients. As a bilingual writer, I will translate for accuracy as well as nuance. Click here to see my work with a Saitama medical clinic. Starting at 20 cents/English word (approximately $100/500 words, which is usually one single-spaced page on Microsoft Word), though rates may vary depending on the number of technical terms.

I also offer editing services and creative writing classes. Visit the pages to learn more!

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Writing Classes

NEW! Now working as a one-on-one coach and instructor through The Porch, a writers collective based in Nashville. 

1. Creative Writing Mentorship – One-on-One, At least 2 sessions in person (in Nashville, through The Porch) 

Do you have an idea for a story, personal essay, or even a novel or memoir, but don’t know where to start? As an experienced writing instructor with an M.F.A. in creative writing, I’m here to be your personal writing coach. We’ll identify short- and long-term goals, try out various exercises, and work on polishing a project, one step at a time. Minimum of 2 one-hour sessions in person or Skype.

(Note: I do not take high school clients working on their college application essays, but I’m more than happy to give referrals to some writing consultants who have worked specifically in this area.)

2. Creative Writing Workshops – Group, One Session a Week, Nashville Only

December 15, 2018: YOU’RE THE EXPERT OF YOURSELF: Writing The Personal Essay – a free workshop for Teens in Nashville, through SLANT

Everyone has a story to tell, and the good news is, there are lots of possibilities for how you can tell your story through a personal essay. In this workshop we’ll talk about creative ways to structure an essay, the pros and cons of linear and fragmented styles, and useful habits for writing beyond the workshop.

SLANT workshops are intended for high school students. We meet in StudioNPL on the third floor of the Nashville Public Library. This is a free event open to students from any area, but workshop seating is limited, so please click to RSVP. If you sign up for an event and find that you are unable to attend, please let us know as soon as possible so that someone else has the opportunity to participate. Contact joe@porchtn.org with questions. Click here to sign up!

Spring 2019: Writing About Home

Whether you’re a local Nashvillian or a recent transplant, you’re probably thinking about your relationship to the place you call home. Maybe it’s the place you were born. Maybe it’s where you are now, or where you envision being in the future. Many writers have wrestled with the idea of home, and all the questions that come with it. Is home synonymous with family? What happens when you’ve been away from home for a long time, and come back to find it unrecognizable? How, and when, does a person decide whether or not to call a new place their home? Should a place automatically make a person feel “at home,” or should people strive to change a place to make them feel that way? We’ll look at examples from both fiction and nonfiction, and try various in-class writing exercises to wrestle with these questions ourselves. This workshop welcomes writers who already have completed drafts, as well as writers just getting started. Click here to sign up!

Spring 2019: Balancing Reality and Fiction

This workshop is designed for writers who are working on stories based on historical fact or personal/family history. We often get excited about turning a nugget from reality into a fictional project, but it can be daunting to balance research with the creative act of composing scenes and dialogue. What should that balance look like? How can a writer sound credible but creative? Which facts should stay, and which should go? We’ll look at examples from other writers, establish our own goals (as everyone’s will look different depending on the project), and workshop drafts with these personal goals in mind. Click here to sign up!

Fall 2018: Foundations of Creative Nonfiction

The difference between a mildly interesting story and one that goes deep into a reader’s heart and mind is largely a matter of craft. Even the most compelling real-life material won’t grab an audience if it isn’t shaped and presented with skill. In this class, we’ll survey the major forms of creative nonfiction, including memoir, narrative reportage, and the essay, and we’ll take a close look at story structure and voice. The primary emphasis of the class, however, will be on helping you generate and refine your own work through weekly prompts and group discussion. Whether you are just beginning to explore your material or already have a book manuscript in progress, this course will provide you with guidance, encouragement, and detailed feedback. This class is for you if you love writing from your own life, are working on or towards a memoir, want to explore the many joys and diverse structures available to you in the personal essay, or just know you have some great true material to put down in writing. Click here to sign up!

Fall 2018: The Personal Essay

There are infinite variations of the “personal essay,” which makes the format both exciting and daunting. The essay might be a mix of personal anecdotes with bigger sociopolitical commentary, and the essay’s structure might mimic, or enhance, the overall point the author is trying to make. The essay could be linear, non-linear, fragmented, or infused with dialogue and scene-setting that almost make them sound like short stories. We’ll look at examples by James Baldwin, Richard Rodriguez, Jonathan Lethem, Joan Didion, and others to help us craft our own personal essays. This workshop is designed for writers who already have completed drafts, as well as writers just getting started. Click here to sign up!

I also offer editing and copywriting services. Visit the pages to learn more!

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Personal Projects

Works in progress: 

The Mouth and the Voice: A Novel

Submitted for the Columbia School of the Arts M.F.A. degree, 2014. A semi-autobiographical novel that takes place in the immediate aftermath of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, centering on a 23 year-old girl named Sachi Kamakura who comes back to live with her parents in Tokyo after five years of living abroad. Themes: home, identity, trauma in pop culture, coming-of-age.

The Island is Burning: A Novel

Submitted for the Barnard Centennial Scholars Program, 2007. A result of two years visiting Okinawa and researching the various sides to the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, as well as the ongoing tension between local Okinawans and U.S. military bases. The novel focuses on an Okinawan woman named Chiyo who survived the mass suicides during the Battle of Okinawa and reflects on the traumas of war as an elderly woman living in Yomitan village, only miles from the contentious U.S. air force base. Themes: WWII, war memory, U.S.-Japan relations, trauma.

Published: 

The New Inquiry: 

Little Big Eater Girl, January 18, 2016
Essay about Japanese female competitive eaters and eating disorders.

Manufactured Response, April 22, 2014
Essay about responses to the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Columbia Political Review: 

Memory and Pacifism, October 31, 2010
A survey on the various responses to the U.S. military base presence in Okinawa, Japan.

Change Japan Can Believe In, October 18, 2009
A survey on the various responses to PM Yukio Hatoyama’s victory in the 2009 election.

Columbia Daily Spectator, regular columnist, series called “2+2=5”: 

An expert on nothing, April 27, 2010

Brave new reader, April 13, 2010

The carnivore manifesto, March 30, 2010

The elimination of Women’s History Month, March, 2110, March 9, 2010

The gold standard, February 23, 2010

A romance of many dimensions, February 9, 2010

Frontiers of philosophy, January 26, 2010

There will be time, December 13, 2009

Can’t read my poker face, November 29, 2009

A matter of taste, November 15, 2009

A cosmic consciousness, October 18, 2009

Can machines produce art?, October 4, 2009

Why not wonder?, September 20, 2009

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Contact

I look forward to hearing from you!