Friday, August 22, 2003

praise where praise is due

"I hope to read you soon."

That little note from Butch Dalisay (one of my biggest literary icons before and after I was still in UP) meant a lot to me. Sure, it was probably a nice little thing he wrote to all the little wanna-be writers like me who sought his advice on the finer points in writing, but it was a hell of a nice thing to say.

At that moment, I realized that, hey, I could also possibly be published in the future. It kicked the remote and dormant possibility in the balls and hustled it to forefront, forcing it to wear the ugly sweater of H.O.P.E. and cheer for me. I started writing more, got stories published here and there (oh, the pain of looking back at your work - it makes you want to deny authoring the entire corpus of that period or edit the thing wholesale), won awards, challenged myself to extend to other things.

I don't pin the entire thing on Butch's little note, of course, but it was One of Those Things that helped make a difference. I'm still not a Big Name Writer or anything like that, but I like to think that I can be, if I conspire with the fates and acquire more discipline.

Why all this now?

Because I am delighted to see the wonderful writing of my friends, little pieces here, a short story there, the occasional script or poem or fancy. Because I can hear their own respective voices in their texts.

I do not take the "mentor" credit in any way, but I'm happy to note that they feel that the small writing workshop we did a few months ago helped in some way. And our friendships are continous workshops. Just try stopping us from talking about writing (the only thing that can stop me when I'm in this mode is if I fall alarmingly short on ciggies). You can't. Because our love for Story is too powerful, too entrenched in who we are.

So now I read Vin's vignettes, brimming with character and magic and his accessible stylings. Look at "The Prince and the Magus" for a fairy tale trope deconstruction. And this is beyond his other works in progress like "Twilight Empires".

I am floored by Carl's work, so textured and nuanced and poetic. Read this sketch and dare to disagree. Everything you've seen this man produce is merely the tip of the iceberg of his talent - there's a lot more to come.

Nikki takes on the novel (something I want to do but fear to - because I think I'm more of a sprinter than a long distance runner) in her own inimitable voice - the same voice that empowers her essays and poetry (another two genres she trumps me at - damn her eyes!).

Jason 's developing a personal handle on dialogue and character - two of the most crucial things for a playwrights and fictionists - steadily raising his own personal bar notches and notches higher.

And Marco's knack for action and heartfelt wonder continues to inspire me. I just viewed his new pages for Codename: Buffy and all I could critique was the need for more ass shots.

Is all of this lip service or masturbatory bluster? Not at all. Let me throw away the rulebook and mix metaphors for a moment: when I critique, I am harsh. But when I see something beautiful, I am held in thrall by it, helpless as a Toreador vampire watching a forbidden sunrise. Then my mouth overflows with silver and rubies, not the usual frogs and toads I so try to hold back.

And I don't need to hope to read any of them soon. I can read them now. And I also know that best is yet to come, singly or in collaboration, in comics or in prose - so in that regard, I do hope to read them soon.

And to add to my delight, this year I've met two young writers I'm dead certain will become important in their own right: El (with his love for history and startling observations) and Andrew (with his unabashed experimentation and uncommon currency of juxtaposed verbiage). They share a common courage - they have to. Like us, they are self-publishers.

It's a good time to create, a great time to write, a wonderful time to read.

I feel the current and the water's fine.


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