Germination – on the 10th IYAS Creative Writing Workshop

I feel like a little seed from the parable in the Bible – I’m not just sure which ground I fell on, so I guess that shoots the analogy down. Also: I should stop thinking of seeds, because now I’m thinking “is it a monocot or dicot?”

The fellows: (from the top, L-R) Anne Carly Abad, Paul Gumanao, Gino Francis Dizon, Noel Fortun, Sim Gadugdug, Fred Jordan Carnice, Rogerick Fernandez, Alyza Taguilaso, Glenn Muñez, Roselle Jimeno, Elsed Tongonon, Vernan Jagunap, Arbeen Acuña, Charmaine Carreon, Jesus Insilada, and Gian-Paolo Lao (image c/o Jordan C)

The panelists: (from the top, L-R) Dr. Elsa Coscolluela, Dr. Danilo M. Reyes, Dr. Anthony Tan, Dr. Genevieve Ansenjo, Prof. John Teodoro, and Dr. Dinah Roma-Sianturi

The previous week was a blast, really. I had fun and met a couple’a snazzy people – I am so glad no one had an overblown ego (one of my qualms with workshops), it made learning from each other easier. I think I learned a whole lot more of stuff (thankfully) about the craft and have more ideas now. Everyone’s been talking about how fun the experience is so I guess to make it different, I’m posting my notes from the workshop here, i.e. sharing my blessings [kung pwede ko lang i-share ung weight na na-gain ko from the foodage. Hay. How I wish]– hopefully this serves to help anyone who’s interested in further honing their writerly tendencies.

Disclaimer: I TRIED segregating the fiction and poetry comments but I figured some comments can apply to both (and poets can learn a lot from fictionists and vice versa) otherwise, the notes are transcribed chronologically. Co-fellows, please correct me if I got anything wrong.

Also: some things might sound common sense or redundant – well, guess what? I don’t think they are. Some things I think, need to be said before we actually get them and the possibly redundant points indicate areas which [the fellows, and possibly anyone else] need to work on or seem to overlook sometimes, hence the frequency of these comments and their permutations.

To sum it all up [for those who are too lazy to read, although I strongly suggest you do]: DISCIPLINE.

Now, the long version [and I shit you not when I say “long”]:

Continue reading

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On Fiction (or, What Mr. Vonnegut said -)

I’ve been spending my days being more sociable and less writerly and artisty (not used to this going-out-all-the-time-coming-home-at-midday-sleeping-until-2PM thing) but right now I’m reading a friend’s manuscript for her novella and I figured I was going to email her what Kurt Vonnegut said about fiction along with my comments soon enough. Posting it here as well for personal reference, because one day I’d like to write decent fiction myself. 🙂

8 Rules for Writing Fiction:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.

* From the preface to Vonnegut’s short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box

Fiction

I dream of writing
a poem that will lead you to create
the greatest story.

The poem will meet you
when you least expect it: I will leave

the poem carelessly arranged on the floor
a few moments before you enter the room.

I will pretend to busy myself. I will pretend
I am not waiting for you to read it.
When you enter, it will hit
the edge of your shoe, dried ink quietly nudging
with certainty. Like some domesticated animal

welcoming its master home.
You will pick it up, squinting. Your eyes will move
along the roads between its letters.
Already my words latch on to your throat, already
my words become your words.

You will never know that it was written
for you. Instead you will sit, forget
the room, forget the table, forget
the chair that supports your spine.
Forget that I am there.

Already the poem is a memory;
what remains is the story that calls to be written.

You will grab a pen like a knife,
turn to the nearest blank surface.

Already you are writing,
in my dream. The poem creates
the greatest story.