I have a story there. It’s my week 2 Clarion piece, “Ink: A Love Story”, about two writers who write their perfect lovers into existence.
I’m sharing the TOC with Clarion classmate Manish Melwani and the awesome Zen Cho, author of Sorceror to the Crown.
The cover of the issue, done by the talented Lydia Wong, was based on my story.
Please grab a copy now!
I’ve also just returned from the 1st Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Writers Workshop, which was held by the UP ICW at Microtel, UP TechnoHub. The focus was speculative fiction, a first for the Philippines. The workshop completely exceeded my expectations, from the quality of the work to the quality of the discussions to the quality of the accommodations. I was even struck down by stomach flu some hours just before the cosplay graduation ceremony, unfortunately. Photos to follow, but for now, here we are, about to watch the play Distrito de Molo at Palma Hall in UP (photo taken by panelist Eliza Victoria).
Yesterday (Aug. 31) was National Heroes’ Day in the Philippines. Coincidentally, I also finished the novella I’ve been working on since October 2014 on the same day. Hooray!
Being high off the triumph and unable to keep my brain from running on ideas, I’ve begun to brainstorm what the next work I set in the same world–namely, an alternate 15th-16th-century Philippines–will be about. One plot thread is definitely about heroes and heroism.
So, related to both National Heroes’ Day and these future works, I have to ask:
What makes an ordinary person a hero?
Who decides who becomes a hero, and how?
What sets heroes apart from ordinary people?
Related to the above, what are the differences between mythic heroes and folk heroes? Between National Heroes and modern-day ones?
If a hero were in trouble, how much would risk to help them out, if at all?
If anybody, especially someone from the Philippines, has answers to some or all of these questions, I’d love to know in the comments. 🙂
Hello, it’s been very quiet lately on this blog and I could swear I’ve said that several posts ago, too. So I guess several updates are in order.
First of all, I’ve joined this year’s Clarion Write-a-Thon. Its aim is to raise funds for scholarships for next year’s class (one year already? Yeesh). I wouldn’t have been able to attend if not for the Foundation’s generous scholarship, so please consider either joining the Write-a-Thon or sponsoring/pledging me.
This ‘thon allows you to set your own writing goals, and so mine is to spend 126 hours (or three hours per day) editing my existing stories (namely, one novella and three short stories). I’ve only succeeded with one short story now out on submission and I’m line-editing the novella. My profile contains a snippet from the latter, but you can also view scraps and excerpts from my previous works up on Where Ghost Words Dwell:
Apologies Eaten, an excerpt from the novella, which I am for now calling “The Witch and the Mango Tree”
And on a personal level, if you will forgive the sudden change in tone, the last couple of months have been a roller coaster ride for me.
I learned in April that I had depression coupled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which steadily grew worse through May. This entailed crying in both the middle of the night and the middle of the day, plus very little sleep. In June, somehow, I ended up in either a good place or a lull in the storm. I am not sure which it is, but it’s a welcome relief and continues to be.
I’ve begun seeking change or letting it happen naturally to me since the lull. For one, my braces came off and, if my other social media accounts are to be followed, I’ve had a drastic haircut. I’ve also begun painting my toenails and wearing more jewelry and mixing up my clothes. It may seem shallow, but to me, these are baby steps: if I can change what’s on the outside, perhaps something will give within. The changes may extend to things other than my outward appearance–for instance, I think I’ll pick up a historical romance novel for my reading pleasure, and I’m going out to see more and more old friends from different periods of my life. Small steps are small.
I’ve also learned that there are many people who are experiencing the same thing, and have met and talked with some of them. They are a great comfort to me and I am thankful to them for all the loving advice and gentle prodding.
It’s not easy for me to admit my state of mind in public where I can be picked apart without context. In fact, I stared at the “publish” button for a long time before releasing this post into the wild. The thing is, I have a habit of bottling up things that upset me long ago to the point that they haunt my adult life, dreaming or waking. Some days I am either happy or mellow, and then I remember what I am saddled with and I get sad all over again. I want to someday get to the point that saying the facts aloud will not make me sad anymore. With this blog post, whether I continue to post about the depression or here or move to my private notebooks, I hope to begin exorcising my demons.
Things have been pretty quiet around here. Bear with me while I adjust to some life changes, including a new job and a rowdy litter of puppies.
But I’ve also been writing a novella at the same time. It’s kept me sane since January, for which I am grateful considering some of the really shitty things I’ve been through of late. This story is the big revision on my Week 3 Clarion story. I’ve titled it “The Witch and the Mango Tree,” at least until a better title comes along.
Earlier today, I got to share over at Where Ghost Words Dwell a scrap that I may or may not reinstate at a later date titled “Apologies Eaten.” Do check it out! And if it makes you want to read my other works, all the better. 🙂
“To Megan, with Half My Heart,” my short story about Philippine folklore, first love, and motherhood, is now live at Expanded Horizons!
I wrote drafts of “Megan” as early as 2009, but I wasn’t ready to write the story yet. Apparently, I was ready enough to tackle the content as part of my undergraduate thesis in 2012, however. An earlier version of this story appeared in The Silliman Journal vol. 54 no. 2, and in the Heights anniversary issue.
If you find that it floats your boat, please feel free to share it 😀
Things have been quiet around here lately, mainly because of my day job and some troubles I’ve been having with it. But on the plus side, my writing life is as vibrant as ever. 🙂
Out within a handful of days of each other, two anthologies where my stories have found a home were released.
The first is “How the Jungle Got Its Spirit Guardian,” found in Phantazein, which is published by FableCroft Publishing. This one is about two outcasts trying to keep up a ruse that would make both sets of their parents and their tribe happy, while simultaneously dealing with what lies within the forest outside their village. Includes forest gods and outlandish dishes.
The second is “First play for and by tikbalang triggers uproar on opening night,” found in Philippine Speculative Fiction 9.In this news article-type tale, a young journalist reports on the turbulent history, protests, and opening night of a tikbalang epic-turned-stage play by an artistic madman who is also pioneering new techniques in how drama is done in the Philippine art and literature scene–including casting mythical creatures as actors.
If any of these pique your interest, please consider buying either or both books. The anthology titles link out to their Amazon pages. 😀
So, one of the grandest adventures of my life ended a few days ago. I’m back home and my jet lag and letting everything soak in and reconsidering a lot of things. I may not have blogged during all my time there like I planned, but I think I’ll be posting a series of blogs processing the experience, instead.
This is one of them.
Just before I flew off to the US, I wrote a post about struggling to come to terms with a heritage I felt detached from. To sum up some parts of it, I was afraid of having to represent the Filipino people while also feeling like the Filipino people have never once represented me. This had much to do with language, familial upbringing, economic class, and what have you. I may have been just a teensy bit afraid that once I got to the workshop, others would expect me to write about being Filipino, just as local writers have expected me to do here (I need not have worried about that).
But something strange happened once I got there, and I guess everyone who leaves the motherland ends up experiencing what I did to some degree or another.
Ready? Here it is:
I never felt more Filipino than when I was living in San Diego.
I cannot count the many times I felt like a small-town girl occasionally muttering small-town phrases and wearing small-town clothes and missing small-town food–and I come from a freaking megalopolis!
And, for some reason, I could not stop writing about Filipinos. Even when I set my story in a secondary world, there was still something unmistakably Filipino about the characters and the world they lived in.
At Clarion, I wrote about two different writers calling to life their ideal mates via their writings (week 2, “The Politics of Ink: A Love Story”, 1319 words); a slave aspiring to be an epic chanter who relates how the mango came to be and ties it with her love of her brother, her hatred of her mistress, and the fall of a kingdom (week 3, “Song for My Brother”, 8062 words); two gay men dealing with the fallout of their relationship as one of them prepares to go to a distant planet to pursue a grant for the study of its creatures (week 4, “The Siren Call of the Rimefolk”, 4653 words); and a small family living in a tropical city stricken by a natural disaster (week 6, “Blushing Blue”, 3107 words).
(My week 5 story was a flash called “The Bride Who Would End the World”–the setting was mostly generic because I wanted to create a new myth tying an apocalypse to a cosmic wedding. Didn’t pan out as well as I hoped, but it’s a first draft written on a cellphone because my traitorous laptop broke down as I was writing the week 4 story).
Whether I stated it outright or not, these stories all had a Philippine base to the setting.
My one-on-one with Cat Valente really helped smooth this out. She explained to me that she herself never felt more like a California girl than when she was living as a Navy wife in Japan.
“Some writers have their own agendas and believe that you should only be writing what they themselves write–which shouldn’t be the case,” she told me. “You can choose to fight against writing about Filipinos. That’s a legitimate choice. But you should also go with whatever lights a fire beneath you.”
And I did. I don’t regret it. Will it extend toward my future work? Who knows?
Other friends of mine who understood my pre-Clarion angst have told me, “What makes your stories Filipino is that you are Filipino. You will carry that with you everywhere.” And they’re right, too.
A classmate of mine said during my final critique session for the whole workshop, “And, I’m sorry, but because you are a Filipino, I read this as an alternative Philippines.”
I should have told him, “Don’t be sorry. That’s really what it is and that’s really who I am.”