writing like I talk

I remember getting back my first essay in the religion class at the University of Hawaii – Manoa.
I thought I did — at the worst — a decent job.
That paper came back with more red markings than… than… well… there was a lot of red marks.
It seemed like each sentence had at least one red remark from the professor.

Ultimately, he gave me a C- for it.
He wrote a paragraph of critique and ended it with “You write the way you speak and the way you speak is wrong.”
I was 18-19 when this happened and I still remember how shocked I was.
I was never the best student, but school came easy for me — doing the bare minimum to make sure that my parents didn’t beat the education into me came easy to me. So this one of the first times I received a wake-up call; that I couldn’t skate through college on my charms and ability to hold a massive amount of information for one day only to forget all of it after the exam.

I didn’t even know how I spoke was wrong.
But makes sense when you think about the fact that the religion professor was from England.
On top of that, this was a religion class; a class on Death and Dying — what the hell did my writing style (or lack of) have to do with people who are dead or dying. I do remember this class being interesting and engaging, though I can’t remember what we learned in class. That’s on brand for me.

However, it did reinforce the idea that I did not like writing.
School also reinforced the idea that I did not like reading.
Turns out: I do like reading. And writing.
I just don’t like assigned reading or writing.
By the way, all the darn seminary professors with their fake spiel about “learning to manage self care is the utmost of importance while you’re in seminary” then assigning 5000 pages of reading PER WEEK… 4-5 classes, that’s at least 20,000 pages that we’re required to read PER WEEK. Don’t try to be the medicine when you’re bringing the ailment, ya know? I absolutely despised that spiel that every single professor gave after assigning a boat-load of reading. Wow. That was a tangent that I did not expect.

Well into my ministry, I learned that I needed to write the way I talk (even if I didn’t “talk right”), because it was helpful in writing out my sermons. And then I discovered, hey, I actually like writing. It’s fun. It gives me pleasure. It gives me joy. It gives me life.
So I started this blog in 2006, continuing to write how I talked — grammatical mistakes and all — which, btw, I’m certain you’ll find here, if you haven’t already. These days, I’m just invested in putting out blog content without editing too much. So I apologize for the mistakes but if you ask my wife (and anyone else who hears me talk), I make grammatical mistakes in speaking as well. Hopefully you’ll get what I meant and now what I actually said (or wrote).

What was supposed to be a musing of thoughts for myself, turned into something more.
I really never thought anyone would read this blog.
But over the years, people did. Which I’ll be forever grateful for.
It started to open doors to different opportunities and now I have this book coming out — something I dreamed of but never really anticipate happening.
This is technically my 3rd book, but the other two were bible studies and it was something I was hired to produce (which I am forever grateful for).

But When the Saints Go Flying In feels like it has more stakes… there’s a bigger vulnerability to it.
And I have a myriad of emotions and thoughts coursing through me as we get closer and closer to the release date, which is one week from now: 2/6.

I sent the manuscript to people in hopes that they’ll write a little endorsement for it.
One of my friends sent back her review/endorsements with the opening sentence:
Pastor Joseph Yoo writes exactly the way he talks.

Instead of feeling a sense of shame and inadequacy like I did some 20 odd years ago, I felt a sense of affirmation and completion.
Like, a coming of a full circle.
To be fair, I don’t think Dr. C used those words to shame me but to critique and correct me.
And, I never listened, apparently because here’s that same sentiment 2 decades later, but this time it’s a compliment (and in the case it’s not, I’m still gonna take it as a compliment).

I guess the one take away from this is: buy my book.

Just kidding. I mean not really– but just kidding on the part that that is the takeaway.

I think — if you found your hobby; if you found something that you enjoy doing; that gives you joy; gives you life — keep doing it regardless of what naysayers say.
Don’t create for the sake of others, create because it’s something pressing on your heart waiting for it to get out.
Don’t chase clout or likes or views.
Do it because you enjoy it.

Also, buy my book please. Hahah.
February 6th is when the paperback comes out.

However, for the pre-order special, you can preorder the ebook for just 2.99.
For those of you who’ve asked — because I didn’t got with a major publisher, we don’t have the option to preorder the paperback.
But it’ll be on sale 2/6 for 14.95.

Below is Angela’s full endorsement.

As always, thank you for reading!

Pastor Joseph Yoo writes exactly the way he talks. I’d imagine he also writes and talks exactly the way he thinks. What I, and I think the reader, will gather from that is that he really doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. Now that’s not to say the talk and the walk are always ideal and brag-worthy, but I am willing to bet that they will be consistent. Many people grow a disdain for religion and the people that are at the forefront of religion because the talk and the walk don’t match. We are a lot more forgiving to hardcore criminals who admit that they are bad than pastors that act “holier than thou” and get a speeding ticket. This book is a far cry from a pastor acting holier than thou. It’s raw, vulnerable, and so honest in sharing a man’s struggles and journey through not just his faith, but his career, reputation, and life. He shares his experience of leaving the only protestant denomination he knew to join another one, which is a powerful reminder that God isn’t contained within a systemized religion. Pastor Yoo’s admissions to doubts and faults throughout his professional career (as weird as it is to call serving the church that…) highlight that pastors and church leaders don’t have all the answers; God does. His stories about famous saints serve to emphasize their imperfections and humanity. Society places saints on pedestals. Often we forget that saints aren’t superhumans, insusceptible to sin. Sainthood is a concept people have created; that religion has created. Saints are merely ordinary people that received God and were open to being the vessel to deliver God’s glory. Pastor Yoo reminds us that saints are merely celery. Celery itself is not good. However, celery is an excellent vessel to carry foods that are good: peanut butter, ranch dip, hummus… “When the Saints Go Flying In” is a book that acknowledges the flawed human in all of us (including saints) and celebrates that this doesn’t change a thing in how much Jesus loves us and how much Jesus can and wants to use us to share, spread, and embody His love.

“When the Saints Go Flying In” is a Christian book. It doesn’t shy away from tackling hard topics of Christianity that often are known to make non-believers (and believers even) uncomfortable. However, Pastor Yoo tells us his thoughts and stories not from the pulpit, but rather across the table from us at eye-level. In this book at least, Pastor Yoo, saints, and the reader are all equals at the table, sharing stories and experiences to comfort one another, challenge one another, and cheer one another on to ultimately be a great stalk of celery.

Angela Park, TV/Radio Announcer, Voice Actor, English Education Content Creator

One thought on “writing like I talk

  1. I didn’t know how to take Dr. Craig Hill’s comment that I wrote like I talked. So I asked him was that a bad thing (assuming it was) and he said “Absolutely not! In fact I’m a little jealous.” Apparently it is a gift to be able to just say what you mean and mean what you say, just the way you talk.

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