Short stories. I’m a big fan of them. I love reading them, and in the past year and a half, I realized that I love writing them, too. They don’t require a significant time commitment reading-wise, so you don’t forget or miss out on much after long breaks (as I’ve learned back in 2015). Short stories also enable writers to cut the crap and just get on with it — we have fewer pages and words to work with, unlike novels, where there’s plenty of room to set people and things up as needed. But these things don’t mean short stories are easier to write, or that their impact is less compared to other forms of prose. Continue reading “Some Things About Short Stories”
I’ve never shied away from long novels and essays. But sometimes I get impatient, and want to read something short and blunt, preferably going from cover to cover in just one sitting. And in between the books I had scheduled for the next review, I impulsively went through two creative nonfiction (CNF) books talking about two very different things.
In the spirit of their conciseness, I’ll make this as short as I can. (Yeah, right.)
I think I’ve mentioned only once on this blog that I was a creative nonfiction writing fellow for this year’s UST National Writers’ Workshop. But I know I’ve talked about it to death the past couple months and posted endlessly on social media, so bear with me because this is the last time I’ll talk about it. 😉
I really didn’t think I’d get in. Countless writers from around the country submit their manuscripts every year to UST, as well as for the UP, DLSU, Ateneo, Silliman and Iligan national workshops; and competition’s always tight. Plus there’s the mentorship/patronage stuff I talked about before, which I think exists in every institution, not just in creative writing.
Those who know me well also know I was terrified. It was my first-ever national workshop, and before that I relied only on small and comfortable class workshops. I didn’t know anyone at UST except for one professor, and we met only once. I’ve heard horror stories of fellows getting thoroughly chewed out at workshops like these, of panelists on their best diva behavior, of the high attrition rate of writers post-workshop.
But it all worked out in the end. I had an amazing time and learned so much. It’s always good to hear other viewpoints, find holes in your work that you didn’t know existed, and widen your writing-centric support system.
I think a co-fellow got it right when he said we still have a high from the workshop. So we were surprised when the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (UST CCWLS) announced it was already accepting applications for next year’s workshop. Break-up stage na, mga bes.
(Several other calls for submission have popped up afterward, like the one for the 57th UP National Writers’ Workshop. Awards season is also underway, with this year’s Palancas in the bag, and the Philippines Graphic‘s Nick Joaquin Literary Awards scheduled on September 13.)
Here’s the official poster for the 2018 UST workshop, if you’re interested.
(Go to the UST CCWLS Facebook page for more info, and to see the photos and videos from this year’s workshop.)
I had to answer a lot of questions when I got back, mostly about applying for writing fellowships and how the workshop went. You can say this is my attempt to answer everything. Since I’ve only been to the UST workshop, that serves as my main reference. I guess some items could apply to other national workshops as well, or even journal/anthology submissions.
Also, I have creative nonfiction writers and manuscripts in mind for this blog, but I think some advice could work for writers in other genres, too.
Lastly, I don’t guarantee your acceptance into any workshop. Walang sisihan, ha.
Well. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… we’re still living in an alternate reality, and it’s just getting worse. I was hoping things would be back to “normal” by this time, but no dice.
Fiction is becoming more comforting and reliable than real life. And while I’m as angry and astounded as everyone else about global proceedings, I find myself delving more into fiction (specifically, those about future worlds) for solace.
I’ve also been reading more local novels and anthologies. I spent the past year taking fiction techniques and workshop classes for grad school (and writing my own short stories), so I wanted to see how other Filipino writers do science fiction and speculative fiction. Or, put in another way, I wanted to see how different our class lessons are from what’s actually being published and demanded by readers.
There are some places that you can’t help but return to, and not just once. For me, Baguio City is one of those constant destinations.
Baguio reminds me of long road trips with family and siblings’ friends in the ’90s, way back when an eight-hour travel time from Manila was normal, and the long way through Dau was the “shortest” route. Baguio is where we all go to escape the unbearable heat in the city. Baguio’s where you stop if you’re headed further north, e.g. Sagada, Ilocos, or San Juan.
More recently, Baguio is the first place that comes to mind whenever I want to get away from everyone else, but still be just one bus ride away in case there’s an emergency at home. I now also think of Baguio whenever I want to score some great books.
I was back in Baguio yet again last month. This time around, I was a writing fellow for creative nonfiction (CNF) at this year’s UST National Writers’ Workshop. (So yeah, I got in.) While the workshop kept all of us busy for a week – and those damn storms Gorio and Huaning kept us mostly indoors – we had two days to roam around the city and do whatever we wanted.
Of course, my itinerary included book shopping. Continue reading “Bookworming in Baguio… Again.”
A free comic on this day of freedom. Download Skyworld: Dominion here.
For a backgrounder on Skyworld, read my 2014 review of the series, as well as Trese and Tabi Po. 🙂
As my country celebrates its 119th year of independence, I’m making use of my existing freedoms to read a few titles and get some writing done. Better do it while I still can, right? #Skyworld has also picked this day to make a comeback! Go to facebook.com/SkyworldComics to download its latest chapter, “Dominion”. For my take on the two prior Skyworld volumes, go to the link in my bio. You’ll see #Trese and #TabiPo in there too. ☺📚💓 Mabuhay ang Pilipinas, at basahin natin ang mga kwentong likha ng ating kapwa Pilipino! (Look, I’m trying, ok? 😂) 🇵🇭
I don’t know if the other Philippine MFA creative writing programs do this, but the one I’m enrolled in has a few daunting requirements for its students. High GPA requirement aside, before I can take the comprehensive exams and do my thesis, I have to be published in an inter/national refereed literary journal, and become a fellow in a national writing workshop (and maybe win a writing award, while I’m at it).
Oh, and it would be really nice if I accomplish all these within my first two years in the program.
No wonder I’ve started to have (mild) cold sweats every time writing workshops, publishers/editors, and contest admins issue calls for submissions. Even then, I let all those recent deadlines pass by because I thought my work was still raw.
But I finally caved last month. Partly because of the aforementioned school requirements and partly out of genuine curiosity and desire, I sent in my creative nonfiction material for the UST National Writers’ Workshop, and a short story for Likhaan‘s 11th edition, which is doing popular science writing and speculative fiction this year. My fingers are crossed; but I’m also realistic about my chances. I know full well that I might not get into both. If that’s the case, I can always try again next year, or with other workshops and publications.
For the UST workshop (and I guess this also goes for other national workshops as well), all applicants were asked to supply the screening panel with a recommendation letter from their literary mentors. I asked (rather, bugged) my own mentor for the same thing for my grad school application, so it was natural for me to do the same thing here. She’s also gone through the whole stressful workshop-application process, so she knew it was only a matter of time before I asked again.
But then a classmate and friend asked me who did my recommendation letter, and said he didn’t know who to ask for his. It reminded me that not all good writers have mentors that already belong to the PH literati or are recognized by them, or will choose to take the same path as they did. Anyone can be a great writer and not play the sino-kilala-mo game, or have a long list of workshops attended or awards won, or a creative writing degree, to boot. We submit our work for validation, but we all need to remember that that’s not the only way to get it.
It also reminded me of the patronage that’s long been in place in our literary scene (and, everywhere else, to be honest) — the kind that Adam David railed against on his blog back in the late ’00s, and Katrina Stuart Santiago on Rogue in the early ’10s.
(Here’s another great essay on PH lit patronage and politics: Monica Macansantos’ 2015 work “Becoming a Writer: The Silences we Write Against”, published in TAYO Literary Magazine.) Continue reading “On Mentorship and Patronage in the Philippine Literary Scene”
My turn to jump on the bandwagon 😂 My little book blog turned 7 years old this month, and as is customary, I completely forgot about it. Hell, it spends more time inactive than active anyway, so… yeah. Some of the books I’ve read during this 7-year period have become memorable to me for different reasons. It was also fun for me to see how much my writing style and book preferences have changed since 2010. Obviously I don’t take everything that seriously anymore! 😂 Search my blog for more info on these 10 awesome reads. ☺📚🎉🎂
Happy 7th birthday, blog! 😀 Accept my greetings, even if it is 23 days too late. Hahaha!
One of the things I keep reading/hearing ever since the recent shifts in international power (read up!) is that we’re now living in an alternate reality, or multiple alternate realities. Oh, how I wish that were true. If it were, at the end of the day we’d all just laugh, and go back to a world filled with respect for and adherence to laws and due process and equal human rights for everyone and all the things people living in democracies want or take for granted.
But we’re not living in an alternate reality. This is today’s reality, with actual “arguments” of media bayaran bayas dilawan and alternate facts. As angry as these makes me and most of those I know, frankly it also makes me want to escape even more into reading, where the worlds (and their villains and their ilk) are complex and threatening, but confined to the pages. Two recent reads gave me enough of the escape I wanted — but also kept it real and made me think long after I got through the last page. Continue reading “Alternate Realities”
In case you wanna see and read more about my first visit to Mt. Cloud Bookshop, click here. 🙂