Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Day I Took the Pen


        There are techniques on writing cute metaphors, catchy first liners, thought provoking conclusions.
        I’m also pretty sure there is a surefire way to write fiction that will sky rocket in the best seller list and make me filthy rich like J.K. Rowling. I’m still in the process of finding it out.. There is one wish that I have in my heart. I hope I’m still young and beautiful when I receive my Nobel Prize. Only that.
          Stephen King said that in writing, one doesn’t need a plot. Yes, he said that. You don’t believe me? Just read Tommy Knockers and you’ll find out. Kidding aside, the king (no pun intended) of horror suspense novels doesn’t believe in plots. Well I can’t blame him. Plots are lima sinco. Hmm… no plot… I’ve been doing that but it doesn’t seem to be working for me…
            Characters, now that’s different. Characters begin to a have life of their own in the stories that pretty soon you will be held by the hand and taken to places you have never been.
          To be a writer, you need to live in a wooden house that opens to an astounding view of the sea, or a cottage overlooking the hills of Baguio, or a condotel in Tagaytay that can only be reached by cable car. If you don’t have any of those, forget it. You can’t be a writer if your mind isn’t nourished by panoramic scenery. No way, Jose.
             In your beautiful abode, set up your own personal space, a space you call your own. You need a bulletin board, and stacks of paper and other stationery. A plant or fresh flowers can help to feed your aesthetic needs. In that sanctum, everything should be sacrosanct.
             Anyway, you need this space so that nobody will know if you’re not really productive. You can have a little catnap here and there, pig out on krispy kreme.
             If I remember right, you need a portable typewriter, the older the better. Now why is that? In the movie The Shining, Stephen King’s character played by Jack Nicholson had one. It was very creepy. You see, Jack’s character was in a rundown hotel, and he was working rigorously typing away from dusk to dawn and what did he write? He wrote on several hundreds of paper,” All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” Creepy huh? 
           Then there’s Demi Moore in the movie Half Light. She portrayed a best selling writer. She also had a typewriter she fiddled with until she found a boytoy. She found a very interesting muse in the form of a hunk who lived in an island alone. This hunk guarded the lighthouse, and he turned out to be a ghost. The ghost turned out to be a non-ghost who plotted to kill her but fell in love with her instead. Way to go Demi…. Talk about plots. No plot is best. Stephen said that. 
         When I started writing I had a Royal typewriter given to me by a friend of mine. It was an antique. I really had that feeling of having arrived. I felt like a writer. I was teary eyed even..
          We were inseparable, my typewriter and I, even when I got married. My husband was amiable at first, but when I started talking to it, hugging it, kissing it and feeding it, that was the last straw. He got me a personal computer complete with the latest monitor.
          How do you get ideas? To start with, you can’t. There are no more original ideas. You have to copy, filch, pilfer, lift, in other words, steal from other authors.
No, you say. That’s plagiarizing. Well, you can call it whatever you want, if you don’t do it you have nothing. If I start naming names now I might end up in an ivory tower, locked up and the key thrown away.
           Then you ask,” How do I get away with it?” Now that’s your job as a writer, to guile people. 
You see, even Shakespeare copied his plots. Now, the weaving of the story into a fantastic and beleivable(or unbelievable) story is called talent. That way, they won't really know that that's not a new story after all.To make your writing look and seem different. To make the reader experience like nobody ever can. I think some schools are now offering a course on that. 
          There’s another one. Don’t stay in your ivory tower: unless you have long blond hair, it’s not good for a writer to be cooked up not knowing what’s happening to the real world. You see, writers like us need to know what sells and what doesn’t. It’s like the Starbucks phenomenon. Every nook and cranny of the world has one. Join the bandwagon.
             What kind of books should you write?
 If you look at the shelves in bookstores like National bookstore, you will find Tagalog romances galore.( No, don’t go to  posh bookstores at the upper high street Fort, or Rockwell, because they don’t carry romances in Tagalog.)
             That’s where the market is. Teenage girls, bored middleclass housewives. Then there’s chic lit, or chic literature where the protagonists always end up alone but hopeful. You can also consider doing cookbooks, we can’t have too many of those.And there's a whole new world out there called cyberspace. Anything can happen there.
            There’s a proliferation of ghost stories the likes of which can raise my grandmother from her grave. Anybody can write that. You can interview people about paranormal experiences that they have encountered. Everybody has one.
In a nation where there is as much as 171 languages scattered in more than 7,000 islands, why is it we don’t have a vast compilation of novels and short stories? Are we doomed to reading short, short, ghost stories and jokes about whoever is sitting in the power throne in Malacanang?
 Tagalog romances are very important to hone the artistic potential of fledgling writers. We cannot belittle these novelists because it is a large task to be writing one hundred or two hundred pages of fiction. Of course some are good, some are bad, but it is a start.
  At this stage, we have to reach to the wider audience to resurrect (sic) any kind of literary ambition we have as a society.
           There’s a big market out there waiting to be tapped. Big bucks! Show me the money! Write that on your bulletin board.

           Unless you’re one of those types who write for art’s sake.


mirage said...

Thank you for that lovely insight. It couldnt have come at a better time, im having a terrible case of writer's block. I always believe that i write because my heart has a voice that wants to be heard, and right now it is in "mute" mode. hahaha

Anyway, if i remember correctly, is it your bday? Have a happy one, my friend! :)

amidemanila said...

Sa 20 pa. hahaha

amidemanila said...

sa 20 pa. thanks din in advance..teka, bigyan kita ng seminar libre...hahaha

Daydreamertoo said...

This is really well written. I think the answer is... just write :) And if you want to be published, you have to keep on trying. I read that even JK Rowling's first Harry Potter was turned down 35 times by different publishers until she found one interested in it.