Tuesday, March 04, 2008

feeling writerly

Time management is a big issue for me, something that I constantly struggle with. The demands of work, for example, take priority over writing, so it is only when there is a lull in my work day that I can write like a guerilla - which means being able, by necessity, to "switch on" the writerly mode at a moment's notice, and be willing to relinquish the hat when more real work needs to be done.

The other time I write is after work, usually late at night or early in the morning when I've spent some time with wife and daughter - dinner, watching TV or DVDs, reading stories, putting up a miniature hand play, relaxing, unwinding.

When Sage is asleep and I'm rested to a degree, then I write.

Among the stories on my "must write" writerly docket, I need to complete a children's book commissioned by the the good folk of the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation. Though its not a long text (around 1000 or words or so), its quite tricky, given the target audience of 8-16. Even with two stories written for young people under my belt ("Poor, Poor Luisa" and "How Rosang Taba Won A Race"), I find that it takes a different kind of mindset (given that my default prose style tends toward the elaborate).

I have a couple of days left to complete the book. My challenge is not in the existents (plot, characters, setting, etc.) but rather in the discourse and the small word count.

As with the original version of "Rosang Taba"(complete with footnotes), I think I'll finish the lengthy story in first draft then cut and polish. The good thing is that I don't consider these parameters as restrictions or limitations. I look at them as as discourse challenges, to be able to tell a story with certain givens.

It is important in writing instances like this to write with an audience firmly in mind - a mindset I sometimes, but not always, adhere to when I write fiction. Yes, writing teachers and books galore will tell you that you need to write for an audience, but in my experience, especially with Salamanca and majority of the stories from my collection, I work better just writing and not splitting hairs on who this is for. I do agree, however, that there exists in the writerly imagination a certain "ideal reader"(that changes from story to story) that we end up writing for; and that we do write for an audience, even if that audience is an audience of one: the author. But in cases where the story is commissioned, where the story is written for a market (magazine, anthology or periodical submission where the market caters to a specific reading audience), or even, arguably, for a contest (though how can you write for a board of judges whose composition you are unaware of?), you must write for an audience.

If all goes well, then this book (I'm not solid on the title as of this time) will be published by Bookmark later this year.

As for the second novel, well, I'm around 5000 words into it. In theory, if I do not sleep and do nothing else for the next three weeks (haha), I should be done. The going is slow and I need to clone myself somehow. The thing has yet to have a title (though if I had my way I'd force/wedge "Sinverguenzza" somehow - but it really doesn't fit), but that is the least of my concerns. I hope to make the end of the month deadline but won't go on a rampage if I am unable to.

As is the case with my writerly output, we'll see.

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