[Day 803] How do writers make money?

Recently, I’ve taken to introducing myself as a writer. Occasionally, I receive a response along the line of: “But aren’t you the person teaching the TensorFlow class?” or “But didn’t I see you in that CS class?” and I was always a bit confused: “Why should being a writer stop me from being interested in CS?”

This morning, I went for brunch with a bunch of people I didn’t know. A man in his fifties, after hearing that I’m a writer, asked: “So how are you supporting yourself financially?” Continue reading “[Day 803] How do writers make money?”

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[Day 803] How do writers make money?

[Day 795] Is Andrej Karpathy human?

Sophia the robot visited Vietnam today and VnExpress asked me to write an op-ed about what it means to be human. In the article, I mentioned the program that Andrej Karpathy wrote that generated Shakespeare-sounding text.

I didn’t think much of it until my editor texted me: “Is Andrej Karpathy human?”

I was like: “I guess.”

She was disappointed and took that example out of my article.

[Day 795] Is Andrej Karpathy human?

[Day 678] My post went viral

I’m not even going to pretend to be modest or less vain. A post that I wrote a few weeks back suddenly went viral. It reached 1.2 million Vietnamese, has been read by 175k people. It’s probably been read by more people since a considerable number of newspapers and magazines in Vietnam reprinted it, both with and without my permission. A couple of publications had the authenticity to copy about 90% of my post, edited the other 10%, and innocuously put someone else down as the author. Oh well. Copyright in Vietnam. What can the farmer do? Continue reading “[Day 678] My post went viral”

[Day 678] My post went viral

[Day 473] Being a non-native English speaker writing in English

I was enjoying a hot spring in Utah when a red-haired lady came to join me. Small talks ensued. I told her I was a creative writing student and I wanted to become a writer. She seemed confused.

“Do they teach Vietnamese writing here?”

“No, I’m studying English writing.”

“You want to write in English?”

Now she was really confused. I had an accent, I still do, and she was probably wondering how a person who didn’t even speak English could even dream of making a living out of it. Continue reading “[Day 473] Being a non-native English speaker writing in English”

[Day 473] Being a non-native English speaker writing in English

[Day 235] I need your input to write a bad-ass book about Vietnamese culture

Over the years, I’ve noticed three things about books about Vietnamese culture:

  1. They are all written by foreigners. A guidebook to a country written by a foreigner is like a cookbook written by someone who has only had experience in looking at the food. There needs to be a book about Vietnamese culture written by a real Vietnamese.
  2. They all start with the war. Come on, the war ended 4 decades ago! There are so many more cool things in Vietnam.
  3.  They all read like textbooks at best and phonebooks at worst. I believe that books should be not only informative but also entertaining.

I’ve spent the last two years interviewing many people: foreigners who have traveled in Vietnam, foreigners who have lived in Vietnam, foreigners who have never been to Vietnam, Vietnamese who have lived overseas, Vietnamese who have never been outside the country, etc. I’ve combined their opinion into a book called “How to not get your ass kicked in Vietnam: The native’s guide”. But I still need more input to make the book as comprehensive as possible. So please help me through this short survey:

Survey for non-Vietnamese

Survey for Vietnamese

Thank you very much! The prologue to this book can be find below.

Continue reading “[Day 235] I need your input to write a bad-ass book about Vietnamese culture”

[Day 235] I need your input to write a bad-ass book about Vietnamese culture

[Day 70] The IKEA effect and the writer’s disillusion

I have just finished reading Dan Ariel’s book “Predictably Irrational” and it haunts me. The ideas he presented in the book are not new, but it was fascinating in a way that he found a way to measure things so abstract such as distrust, honesty, and the effect of horniness on our decision making. One of the things that made me think about a lot in this book is the IKEA effect.

Continue reading “[Day 70] The IKEA effect and the writer’s disillusion”

[Day 70] The IKEA effect and the writer’s disillusion

[Day 69] Help me name my book

I have just finished writing a fun culture guidebook to Vietnam. I was thinking of naming it “Vietnam for Dummies”, but I realized that I had no legal rights to use the “for dummies” trademark. I need your help to choose a new name.

learn365project_vietnam1.jpg
Photo by Hung PM, originally seen on Vietnam Streetlife Photography

Continue reading “[Day 69] Help me name my book”

[Day 69] Help me name my book