Every talk kills a little inside me

Oh my God I am so physically and mentally drained (again T_T) I need to get into my recuperation mode first. This is just an emergency outlet to vent out that freaking pressure on my chest. Literally choking me. Geezzz T_T

More on this when I’m fully healed.

Originally published (then set private) on Aug 1, 2010 @ 15:17


I guess it’s about time now.

This past summer I have been sharing talks now and then. I was always drained afterward – so absolutely drained, so exhaustively drained, that “drained” ceases to be an abstract description. I don’t feel hollow. I am hollow.

It turns out that the ordinary saying “breathing life into one’s work” has an extraordinary literal truth. Ever wonder where that life comes from? Most wouldn’t even bother wondering, because the spotlight, the hype, the applause are always on the lively, celebrated work – while the life-drained author recedes to his quiet solitude, and approvingly watches his two best friends, the Audience and the Work, falling in love.

Norman Mailer, an American novelist, said the same thing in his last interview before death: “Every single book of mine kills me a little more.” That is quite a peculiar thing to say for a man whose career – no, whose life and passion – is writing, isn’t it?

The same tragedy never seems even remotely applicable to other crafts and professions. You never quite hear an investment banker wailing “O, I love making money – but every dollar earned kills me a little.” Or a white-collar employee moaning “O, I love my cubicle – but …” (well, they don’t even get to love their job.) Why?

Because what is distinctive about writing, giving talks, or any other creative processes is that they are mercilessly individualistic. There is so much personal investment, so much emotional attachment, that it is literally a piece cut fresh off you, dripping with blood and flesh. You breathe life into it – or should I say, it sucks life out of you. Even if it’s a success, it kills. And don’t even mention when it fails.

That’s why I reserve a special place in my respect for writers and artists. What is so admirable about their engagement with creativity is not so much their gift, but their undaunted bravery. I have heard that many, who start searching the writer in them, find that writing is fun yet challenging or onerous at the same time – and that’s okay. For many times I feel like what I write is the worst – yes, THE worst – thing that has ever been written in the history of bad writing too. Hopefully, I have, by now, explained why there is nothing wrong with such feelings.

So don’t fear, don’t falter. Writing is such a sacred and intimate art that everyone should be awarded a medal for simply practicing it.

And to those whose approval my blog or my talk is fortunate enough to claim (who hates the blog would just automatically hate the author – I assume), this is a friendly reminder that they, well, suck life out of me. And if anyone ever wants to look for me, don’t look here in the dazzling spotlight that I supposedly share with my work.

Oh, and about the occasion that sparks this entry. I was at a competition organized by FYT (FPT Young Talent), called Pecha Kucha, a presentation format in which you talk along 20 powerpoint slides, which change automatically every 20 seconds. When the slide moves, you move. When time’s up, you zip. The idea is to keep the presentation succinct and the interest level high. The limitation, as I have mentioned earlier in the domain of arts, actually enhances creativity by restricting options, and thus forcing us to explore the only available dimension of depth. The topic at the event was “Who am I?” – which only helps deepening the personal engagement and thus amplifying the damage.

The Pecha Kucha presentation is interesting enough to deserve an entry on its own, had I not decided that it’s too trivially personal to be worthy of my dear readers’ concern. Team Colgate kicked ass won at the event – and here is the certificate that anh Hieu Cao brought me a few days ago (and hence makes this entry possible.)

Fun fact: it’s signed by Truong Gia Binh – the arrogant jerk that refused my offering him a speaker spot at VABC. His acknowledging me – his symbolic capitulation, is what enticed me into this competition in the first place. Well, he did not even refuse in a mean way – but my imaginary revenge is just as sweet.

I hold most of my badges of honor in contempt – except this one. Because it comes from a group of people that has won my overpriced respect. And because it’s a keepsake of the Colgate team, the one that gives me the rare feeling of ease. Had this been a private diary, there would’ve probably been a lengthy entry dedicated to them.

1 comment
  1. Ah said:

    We readers need a bit more of your flesh and blood anh :”>

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