Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dear Solitude

Funny how I read this article exactly at the moment when I’ve been puzzling over my inability to write for days, even if I never used to believe in “writer’s block” as far as journalism writing is concerned.  Long ago, my editor and I had agreed, as a matter of principle, that we, journalists could not afford a block, an ailment commonly afflicting creative writers; because for us, it’s either we have the story or we do not have it, and that it’s only the absence or incompleteness of facts that could prevent us from writing it.  That’s what I used to think before but life is not really that simple. Something has been preventing me from writing these days and I realized it’s not just the absence of facts. I could not bring myself to write because a huge part of me was on strike; and I call this part of me, my writing djinn. It was on strike because I failed to listen to its demand for a long, long time; and for such a long time, I have deprived it of its most basic need: the full and blossoming reading life and delightful solitude. I’ve been jumping from one place to another, soaking myself with the problems of the world, that the djinn is going mad at not being able to read at least four or five books continuously for hours, in total uninterrupted silence. For the djinn, I must say, is an artist, with a well-developed inner life and a will of its own. The djinn it is who fuels my writing. The sooner I recognize this, the better for both of us. I could no longer bring myself to write even if the materials I was supposed to write were already right before me.  The djinn had the anger of Ceres, the anger that prevented the grass from growing, the anger that killed all creativity, it was the anger that practically stopped all life on earth.  Ceres is the harvest goddess whose daughter Proserpine was abducted by Pluto. Her anger had caused the plants to wilt. The anger came that part of me that had supplied the spirit that fueled my journalism throughout these years. I have neglected that part of me. And now, it is demanding attention.  It is demanding solitude. It is going on strike.  It is my only lifeforce, the springboard from which all my writings come from. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Out of Order

What's happening to you? Don't know how to start a story? Don't know how to begin? Don't know because you no longer care what you are writing? Staring at the computer screen like this, remembering the interview and the expectations that went along with it; what's happening to you? All you're thinking of right now is the taste of peppermint in your lips mingled with the taste of kalamansi and that honey taken from a tree 30 feet above sea level. Or, that secret guyabano recipe you are making in the kitchen to fool Ja and Sean to submission. Or, the cat meowmeowing at your feet. Or, that guy whose hands, already calloused by time, you still wanted to touch.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Old passion re-asserting itself

When I was six, Ma came home with an exciting news about an artist/teacher, a dignified and illustrious Mr. I forgot-his-name, accepting six or seven year-old children to train under him at home. The students--whom Ma imagined could be all boys--would stay with the Master on weekdays and may go home on weekends, an arrangement similar to a boarding school for young artists.  Even in a remote place like B'la, it promised something special; it even sounded different: a training in Art. I felt loved, happy.  Even at that point, I thought, Ma must have felt something about me, must have thought I had some of what people called "potential."  I was filled with excitement. Day after day I waited for it to happen: to learn Art, to watch the Maestro render reality on paper. But the month ended without a word from Ma. I waited and waited until the waiting became so unbearable.  When I finally asked her about it,  she told me she decided against it because she was worried about me. For her, it was unimaginable: a six-year-old girl living with boys under the tutelage of a man.   That officially ended my career in Art and Ma quickly forgot all about it.  I didn't. 
Well, maybe, I forgot all about it while I was growing up but that's what I remember now.  I remember how I was quickly forgotten, my dreams set aside. 
Ma taught us to put ourselves last always.  All the drawings that mattered in school were those being done by boys.  The bold strokes, the tri-dimensional realistic renditions, the portraits that copied reality even if they were only done with a ballpoint pen. Girl drawings were merely beautiful, trivial. Together, we--girls--thrived in the shadows, learning from each other and enjoying every moment of it; and that's how we persisted. It's only now, when old passions try to re-assert themselves, overwhelming us in their intensity, that we come to realize we could have been bolder.  
Then, we want to start all over again.

Lost in Kialeg


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

What I look forward to

This year, there will be more roads to take, miles to run, stories to write, accounts to hear, things to make, places to go, images to collect, recipes to try, food to taste, books to read, cats to coddle, rivers to follow, mirrors to find in nature and in man-made structures and landscapes.

What do I want?


He is such a delightful friend and he said to me just a few minutes ago, "So what do you want now? It seems you've lost all zest for life, you're no longer happy with what you're doing, you don't want to write anymore, you don't want to talk about writing, you don't want to cover stories, what do you want to do? Maybe, it's high time to look around for things that make you happy. Otherwise, you'll have such a big problem there. What would anyone do to someone who could no longer be happy? I sat staring at my computer screen. No, I said. I want to plant timber trees and read Annie Proulx while watching them grow. That's all I want to do.

Monday, January 04, 2016