Saturday, January 26, 2013

Writhing at the Thought of Writing - Guest Post from Tommy Vinh Bui


Writhing at the Thought of Writing 
Tommy Vinh Bui

Writing is still a painful and sobering process to me. And I’ve been doing it for years. It wreaks havoc on the soul and kneads the brain to the point of malaise. I feel writing is something I won’t build a tolerance to. It won’t get easier as the years go by. I find the more growth you experience from producing reams and reams of creative output; the more reluctant you are to put yourself through the spiritual wringer. It’s a punishing process. To grow as a writer you strike out to unfamiliar territory. Push yourself out of your comfort zone because pain is growth, right? Uncharted waters. Here be dragons and so on and so forth. But there will be that voyage which will be one voyage too many. And you find yourself in a maelstrom of troubled waves. Oars about ready to snap. Compass needle spinning like a buzz saw. And you’re tied to the mast because only a rodent deserts a sinking ship.

When that impendent deadline is barreling down on me I find myself seeking solace in procrastination with shocking frequency. Thinking up new modes of procrastination is something of a knack of mine. Much creative thought goes into avoiding creative work.  And I get pretty excessive with my procrastination. One time I actually re-tarred my entire roof just to avoid writing a paper on Hamlet. And when someone quotes Shakespeare (to this day) I still get dizzy from those tar fumes.

Sometimes I’ll just crawl into a good book and roost for days. With that inexhaustible deadline looming large. And whatever I’m reading is going to inevitably pry its way into whatever I’m writing. I’m surprisingly impressionable and susceptible to outside influence. If I have to write an article on the Byzantine Empire (deadline tomorrow) and there happens to be a documentary on armadillos on television in the background, then that paper will be entitled “The Migratory Mating Habits of Constantinople: The Leathery Armored Shell of the Ottoman Empire”.

But even despite the haggard hours, the pittance compensation, and the fusillade of neurotic napalm that I shower upon myself throughout the writing process; I still do it. Because harpooning down that period key and finishing up a first draft of something is a sensation unlike any other. It’s deeply intoxicating. Almost narcotic. And the feeling all too fleeting and ephemeral unfortunately as you set that completed work aside and get cracking on the next project. Inexplicably you find yourself re-donning that steel helmet and charging up that next literary escalade.

Times are tough for writerly warriors. But, oh, those flying arrows make such a lovely whistling sound.

If you delude yourself enough, it sounds slightly of “Camptown Races”. And being a good writer is learning to jig to the sounds of your own impending demise.

Doo dah.

Doo dah.  


Tommy Vinh Bui is prone to concise confabulations and off-kilter katzenjammers. Growing up in soporific small-town Los Angeles he was quick to cast off the bowlines and traverse the world. His travels have taken him from the bonnie bucolic bryns of Wales to the vast and desolate steppes of Kazakhstan. Tommy will admit to being interested in antique timepieces, scrimshaw, and obscure cheeses. But he will staunchly deny an interest in McRibs, café racers, and Metal Gear Solid. He hopes to score a decisive goal for England in the World Cup some day. 

Tommy holds an MA in English Literature and is a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Central Asia. 
Many can attest that he is mostly underwhelming.
Further ditherings can be found here: 
http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-819814 
http://www.cynicmag.com/feature.aspx?articleid=4265 
http://www.bluecatscreenplay.com/reader-profiles/tommy-b/