Entry 88: A Weekend Writing Spree

Editor’s Note: This is the 88th installment in Van Jackson’s daily writing journal, “Nuke Your Darlings,” which tracks his six-month battle to write a new book on North Korea. Will he meet his deadline?

I wrote like a man possessed this weekend—more than 3,000 words. I’m tantalizingly close to having a full-up first draft. I think I might’ve figured out a structure for the final chapter that makes sense, is useful to policymakers, and reviews what made the crisis documented in the previous chapters so dangerous (and gratuitously risky).

The words came at a price though. I had so much to do in other aspects of life—personal and professional—that I basically pushed off. I had lectures to prepare, correspondence to write, papers to grade, two articles I agreed to review for other journals, an op-ed I was commissioned to write, and a series of around-the-house obligations. All of it was supposed to happen this weekend and none of it did.

I’m looking forward to reading the full draft for the first time, though I’m concerned about doing my final revisions in these final weeks before the drop dead submission date. Once a full draft is done and I’ve given the manuscript a thorough read, I’ll be wrapping up Nuke Your Darlings. So the end is near!

I’ve written enough about my frustrations with the ridiculous divergence between media narratives about Kim Jong Un’s supposed willingness to denuclearize and the underlying reality that he’s said virtually nothing and agreed to absolutely nothing. I don’t intend to say anything else on the matter other than to point the world to Kim Jong Un’s latest statement before the Korean Worker’s Party—which gives no indication whatsoever that he’s willing to entertain denuclearization and every indication that Kim sees himself as someone in charge of a bona fide nuclear weapons state, period.

North Korea’s selling commemorative stamps of the November 28 ICBM launch in Pyongyang to foreign delegations whom the North Koreans invited to “improve relations.” Charm offensive plus nuclear status fait accompli. The outside of the stamp says “perfecting the national nuclear forces.” Hardly a sign of denuclearization, eh?


Van Jackson is a senior editor at War on the Rocks and an associate editor of the Texas National Security Review. He is also a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington, and the Defence & Strategy Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies.