Nam Le on Writing Young

As part of the run-up to the Melbourne Writers Festival, Australia’s The Age has an inventive feature in which writers of various ages are asked to address what it’s like to write in their teens, 20s, 30s, etc. Nam Le, who was born in Vietnam, raised in Australia, and now lives in the U.S., takes on the business of being a writer in one’s 20s:

What I know, at 29, is this: writing is hard, and it is slow, and its condition is failure. Everything I’ve written has fallen short of its ideal conception; I know this will be as true when I’m 60 as it is now. What’s more, I know I’ll only get a handful of failures: we writers have to face the finiteness of words fitted to time the same way we all, eventually, have to face death. Still, I’m excited. I’m young. I have nothing and no one to answer to. My failures are mostly ahead of me.