Tuesday, January 27, 2004

that time of year again

One of the nice things about writing for the Palanca Awards (and that's exactly what you're doing - writing for a competition) is enforced discipline.

Since material needs to be "competition class", the task of generating property is just the first step. More arduous for me is polishing the first draft into something that has a chance of impressing at least two of the three random judges.

The following things are given and should not be considered:

1. That your kernel of an idea is of interest;

2. That it is written well, in a manner that is engaging (or "honest and true" if you buy into that, since the very act of writing is artifice);

3. That your grammar is beyond reproach.

What is left is the act of hammering the damn thing into something that shines, something that achieves what passes for "literary", something that the judges cannot help but award.

Mercenary? But of course. Like any competition.

If you have the notion that there is something noble about this contest, then perhaps you are attributing too much value to it. Keep in mind that it is a contest. There are definitely superior works that were not entered. The difference is - you entered.

And maybe you even won.

The important lesson is how much you learn about yourself as a creative and as a technical writer, what you bring with you after the winners are announced - whether you won or not. Because if you write only to compete, you may learn that unless you're Butch Dalisay, you will lose more often than not.

That said, steel yourself, do your best and submit your entries. Then live your life as if September did not exist.

And continue to write, out-of-season, any season.


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