Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I’m beginning a new submission cycle of stories, which means that I need a certain number of inventory stories so that I have one unique text for each of the markets I’m interested in. None of these markets accept multiple or simultaneous submissions (simultaneous = you submit the same story to different markets at the same time, sort of hedging your bets), and I think that’s a good policy. So the goal for me is to write 6 or so stories of a certain quality (my inventory, so to speak) in the next couple of months and begin sending them out. All of my targets are foreign publications, but this does not mean that I won’t be submitting anything to the Philippine markets. On the contrary, the encouraging results from Story Philippines (they’ll consider a new one from me for next year, since their policy is not to publish more than one story from an author a year) and Philippines Free Press (poor Sarge Lacuesta will be hearing a lot from me, given his stance that he doesn’t differentiate between realism and spec fic – which is great news for writers of fantastic literature) entail even more writing, but a less frenzied rate for me.

I believe in working rather than looking back with nostalgia, so to me, being previously published abroad has no bearing on my attitude towards my new cycle of submissions. I expect rejection slips left and right, which is the way of things (I treasure a note from Ellen Datlow, simultaneously rejecting a story I submitted and complimenting me on the one that got into the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror). In the area of publications, there are no guarantees. I like the fact that, in a broad sense, getting published in a US magazine is like a competition. And I love competing – even if I stumble and fall. The trick is in picking one’s self up, dusting off the dirt, and getting back into the contest with something learned. This personal competitive outlook is what has gotten me to where I am at present – which is a few more steps toward where I aim to be. I’m still light years away from the goal (there are plenty of better writers, Filipino authors I admire and look up to such as Lakambini Sitoy, Krip Yuson, Rosario Cruz Lucero, Butch Dalisay, Vince Groyon, Ian Casocot, Janet Villa to name a few – and mind you, I’m only beginning to catch up on my contemporary Philippine Lit) but at the very least there is movement of sorts. I have no illusions about my abilities, and I’ll be the first to say that I have a lot to learn about this writing thing, even as I continue to wrestle with questions: “What is my identity/responsibility/goal as a Filipino writer in English?”, “What does it mean to be a Filipino speculative fictionist?”, and so on.

What I wish though is that I could write faster and more consistently. Faster, because there are times when, having completed a first draft, I pick at it endlessly, always unhappy with how it is (while it's true that I can sometimes finish a story in a few hours, that is very rare and an unreliable gauge of my speed). More consistently, because unless an idea really gets me, I simply won’t write. My vignette-writing exercises help, but I find that I need a goal or a challenge to get my juices going. Sometimes, I think, the need to write should be enough. But often, I need a carrot. Or the threat of a stick.

So the current story status is 1 completed, 5 to go.

Time to work.


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