Tuesday, April 25, 2006

summer in dumaguete

I'll be in Dumaguete in a couple of weeks for a number of reasons: to deliver a lecture on Speculative Fiction as part of the Literatura Filipiniana Summer Festival at Silliman University (organized by Ian Casocot); to visit the annual Dumaguete National Writers Workshop (I was a fellow way back in 1992) and touch base with Mom Tiempo; to meet new writer friends; to get a couple of new stories done from the steadily growing "to complete" pile; and to take a break from the stress of life and work.

I'm looking forward to speaking about spec fic as it is an advocacy I feel very strongly about. Since I've made the announcement that I am open to submissions for volume 2 of Philippine Speculative Fiction, I have already received a number of queries and emails of intent to submit. I'm hoping to bump into writers old and new in Dumaguete so I can personally ask them to send stories for consideration. Part of my agenda is to be able to encourage new and previously unpublished writers, those who, like me, are not part of a clique, but have something interesting to say. Naturally, I am not adverse to having a Big Name or two contribute something original to the antho (for example, I'd be delighted to have a newly-minted fantasy story from Krip Yuson or Greg Brilliantes). Is it validation I'm looking for then? Not really. As my friend (and co-Silliman fellow) Sarge Lacuesta told me, perhaps there are no true genre walls in the first place. Ultimately, beyond being an expression of agenda, I want the yearly anthology to just have excellent stories that provoke wonder by Filipino authors who tell their stories well.

I plan to talk about the kinds of Filipino spec fic during my lecture, my learnings as an editor and as a writer, why I think spec fic is important and why it should it as big as it is in other countries (for example, Wendell Capili tells me, rightly so, that spec fic is huge in Australia). As a bonus, If I have time, I will lunge into a blistering tirade against realism - haha.

I also want to see Edith Tiempo again. "Mom" (she is "Mom" to all the writers who sojourned there) was instrumental in my development as a writer. It has been 14 years since I last saw her and at last I have something I can show her that I'm proud of. It's no secret that she's one of my literary parents - which just goes to show how words of encouragement can make a difference in the life of a young writer, perhaps more so than a summer's worth of intense critique (though of course that is also important).

As for meeting new writers, why not? While the act of writing is indeed something best accomplished in isolation, I am for creating new friendships, engaging new minds, immersing myself in new conversations and permitting myself up to seven days of socializing with people who attach as much importance to the act and craft of writing as I do. Frankly, I'm also hoping to read new stories from whomever I meet, to taste the fruits of someone else's labor and act as a reader, a lover of words.

I actually expect to finish a new story or two while I'm there. I have a room booked at the CocoGrande Hotel along Hibbard Avenue and expect to spend some time there with my laptop. On the priority list is the much delayed "Levitation of Princess Karnak" which may suddenly morph into a Muslim love story for all I know, and a story that I can use as a test bed or anchor for the new novel (right now, I'm using "Sinverguenza" as a working title; it's a Spanish term that means "without shame").

As for the "take a break from the stress" part, I plan to eat and sleep, imbibing Deantime - away from my businesses and clients, beloved wife and daughter, friends and games.

Just me and the words.

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