Wednesday, April 15, 2009

pine fresh

It's only this morning that I finally really began to enjoy Baguio. For the past couple of days, I've been anxious about my poetics presentation, trying to follow Rio Alma's instruction to be honest and open, Ricky de Ungria's desire to see where I am and what I've got in the pipeline, my feeling that my poetics are less complicated or sophisticated than everyone else's, and my skepticism about blahblahs.

I've learned much from those who presented their poetics before me. Ayer blew me away with how he approaches his poetry, plus the way he thinks in terms of books of poetry (the analogy would be for me to think of writing a themed collection from the get go). What I had difficulty with was the way the panelists, during his workshop session, asked impossible questions of the (yet to be finished) text and made summary judgements ("this will not work") - predictive critique. Personally, I'd prefer to have submitted a finished/published book/s so the exploration of our growth as writers can be looked at. A work in progress - at least to me - can change completely. Sana kahit first complete draft man lang (although patay kami ni Ichi doon kasi buong nobela ang isusumite).

I guessed the reactions of everyone to Ichi's poetics, infused with clear ideas and vague details (by her choice) of how and why she got to writing. When Ichi had dinner with the LitCritters last year, I remember being shocked and distrubed by what she'd gone through, and have a better understanding of what drives her as a writer. And I think it's cool (and progressive) of the workshop folk to give the two English fiction slots to Crime Fiction and Speculative Fiction.

Listening to Vlad was like trying to catch a deluge with a paper cup. What I like about him (apart from his killer CNF) is the fact that he's brimming over with thoughts and ideas. I teased him about his tendency, when asked a question, to launch into something else he forgot to mention before answering the query. I admire the fact that he's gung ho about exploring the space he's selected. He is one of the few writers I know here in the country whose books sell (it is clear, with four printings of his book and comparisons to Bob Ong that he has readers).

Kael's poetics began with a light moment: Bien Lumbera started by calling him "Mario", before asking him to define critical three terms. Listening to Kael define what drives him, and hearing him articulate his thoughts during the Q&A session was instructive. Butch Dalisay asked the question I wanted to ask: Kael writes in two languages, so how does he choose which language to express that thought?

When my turn came, I dispensed with the original poetics material I submitted and opted to share with the panel and fellows what I (and other spec fic writers here) negotiate when we write fiction. And in the spirit of honesty, I shared my concerns when I wear multiple hats as author and advocate. Along the way, I said that spec fic did not need anyone's validation or permission or approval - but it will be up to us to apply rigor and such. During the Q&A Ichi suggested I lighten up haha. Oo nga naman. Minsan, over itong "balls-to-the-wall" crap ko.

On Monday night we met up with the Baguio and Cordillera writers (and Frank Cimatu! my Facebook friend!). Climbing up six flights of stairs when Bien Lumbera made me want to be him when I'm older - up the stairs, no complaints (I know I'd have bitched about it). Our peers and counterparts were welcoming (if a bit shy at first). I mingled around and introduced myself - and was rewarded when a writer, JM, pulled out a copy of The Kite of Stars and asked me to sign it (siyempre naman happy ako).

Last night, after my poetics, I just felt so tired - but it did not stop me from taking a cab to SM Baguio and buying the one thing I need for better sleep. I found a large pillow, got a pillow case, and suddenly had to deal with a fire at work which involved talking to three people with nary a note in hand. Mukhang okay naman, pero madaming kailangang pagusapan pagbalik,

Today, I woke at 6AM, went out with my cigarettes and laptop and began to write. May dumaan na uwak, big and black and mysterious. Tapos, nawala.

Let's see what happens during my workshop.

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