Filipino Readercon 2014 – Filipino Fridays 2: Have you ever wanted to write a book?

For this week’s session of Filipino Fridays, the organizers of the Filipino Readercon has this to ask:

As a reader, have you ever thought about writing a book? What kind of books/stories do you want to write? Or are you now a published author, and what compelled you to go fulfil this dream? How was your journey from reader to writer? How did you go about getting your book out there?

Yes, of course. I think most of the people out there who are passionate about reading and literature has toyed with the idea of being a writer and I began writing when I was in high school. Mostly poems and I distinctly remember writing a version of Dante’s Inferno for my English class and a play that my class performed as a project for Filipino. I also wrote several love poems during that period of fancying myself as a writer but all of those have been lost now which is a good thing since I came to the realization that what I wrote then were no good.

Now, I’m still seriously toying with the idea of writing but every time I write, I become frustrated and I lose confidence. Whenever I write, I keep coming back to what Leonard Michaels said in his novel, Sylvia:

“Writing in the cold room, I’d sometimes become exhilarated, as if I’d transcended all difficulties, done something good. The story had written itself. It bore no residual trace of me. It was clean. A day later, rereading with a more critical eye, I sank into the blackest notions of my fate. I’d wanted so little, just a story that wouldn’t make me feel ashamed of myself next week, or five years from now. It was too much to want. The story I’d written was no good. It broke my heart. I was no good.”

Still, I still want to be a writer and share the stories that I want to tell. When I met Donald Antrim, I asked him for advice on being a writer and he just told me to keep reading and to write what I know which is what I intend to do really.

As for the books/stories that I want to write, I already have a few ideas in my head. I want to write a half-autobiographical, half-fictional account of my childhood; a short story about a mayor of a small town attending two different funerals (maybe a short story collection with death as its central theme); and a detective novel in the same vein as Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn and Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice and my protagonist would be a homeless man.

I have written a few pages of the stories that I want to tell, that I want to write but I keep getting discouraged after I go back and read what I wrote which is why Leonard Michaels’ quote above resonates so much. In my life, I’ve only written one thing that I am, for lack of a better word, proud of and it’s a poem titled A Drunken Filipino Watching The End of the World which I wrote during my Beat Generation phase. I don’t think it’s a good poem but I don’t think it’s terrible either.

Anyway, yes, the dream of being a writer is still alive.

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