Speaker Spotlight: Christine Lee

Christine H. LeeTo say Christine is a veteran blogger is an understatement. She’s had a website since 1993, and has been blogging since before WordPress — heck, since before the term “blog” was coined! With more than 20 years of online writing under her belt, Christine says, “Blogging kept me writing.”

Christine’s experience of interacting with the community built online is unique. In 2006, she started a blog under a pseudonym.  A few months later, at the age of 33, she suffered a stroke. She didn’t recognize her symptoms as a stroke, but she knew something was off. A few days later, she wrote:

something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.

Her readers urged her to seek medical attention, in comments on the post as well as — for the few readers who knew her personally — in emails. A day later, she commented from her hospital bed:

I had a stroke! Will be better.

She continued to blog at jadepark.wordpress.com through her stroke recovery, for the next two years. Throughout her blogging, she maintained that close relationship with her commenters.

Eight years after her stroke, Christine wrote an inspirational personal essay on BuzzFeed, and that post went viral. Again, commenters reached out — this time in overwhelming numbers, creating — notice a theme here? — yet more connections. In a post about the essay going viral, she wrote:

When I was going through stroke recovery, I felt incredibly alone. Each stroke is unique, so that just furthers the isolation. And while recovering, I basically sat shiva for the person I lost, unready to face the person I’d become. So if this piece eases that solitary for others, I’m so happy.

Christine recently signed a deal with Ecco Press, an imprint of Harper Collins, to publish two books: WHOLE, based on her BuzzFeed essay, chronicling the debilitating stroke she suffered at the age of 33 and her subsequent transformation; and THE GOLEM OF SEOUL, which follows two Korean immigrants in 1970s New York City in search of a lost relative who take a cue from Jewish mythology and make a golem from Korean soil. We’re so happy for her!

Christine will be speaking at Press Publish Portland on March 28, delivering a talk entitled “Comments Saved my Life.” (Tickets are now only $150get yours today!)

Get to know Christine a little bit better by reading the traditional Speaker Spotlight interview:

photograph by Kristyn Stroble
photograph by Kristyn Stroble

Q. What made you start blogging at jadepark.wordpress.com?

A. While my current main WordPress blog is part of my author website, and relatively new, and I had a blog before that at czilka.wordpress.com, I’ll define my main blog as jadepark.wordpress.com, where I blogged anonymously in the wake of my stroke. I started blogging at “Writing Under a Pseudonym” as a place where I could write without judgment, without high stakes, and where I could chronicle my recovery. I didn’t have an agenda other than it be a semi-private space where I could be honest and frank and speak my mind in the wake of trauma.

Q. What kept you (and still keeps you) posting regularly?

A. Engagement with my readership. The writing. There’s twitter, but I’ve always blogged, because it’s the blog where I feel I have more liberty. Also, my blog is key to refining my voice as a writer, especially with my nonfiction.

Q. What’s your most popular post? Is that also your favorite post? If not, what are a few of your favorite posts, and why?

A. When I first had my stroke, I put up a blog post. It was an aphasia-ridden nonsensical post, and it was a very short post. It has since become my most popular post—and in a sense, it is also my favorite. In so many ways, it is genuine, because I lost the ability to organize thoughts and filter information.

Q. How have readers responded to your writing?

A. The response to my writing has been phenomenal. I have made lifelong friends from my blog once I came out from behind the curtain—and it has driven so much support for my narrative.

Q. Is there anything you’re hoping to share with the Press Publish audience? Is there anything you’re hoping to learn at Press Publish?

A. Well–! I’ve got a literary agent now, and I’m writing a memoir about my stroke. Jade Park; Writing Under a Pseudonym has been an invaluable resource as I write my book, because my memory was very affected in the wake of the stroke. That I wrote everything down has been helpful in recovering facts. At Press Publish, I just hope to connect with others, and promote blogging.

Come see Christine speak in Portland on March 28!

Get your ticket!


  1. Thank you everyone–and I look forward to meeting you and sharing my thoughts and experiences with WordPress.com and how it has really shaped my wellbeing and…essentially, my writing career. 🙂

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