I was asked to be a speaker and a panelist for a writing workshop here in Bacolod. I’m quite excited for it. So much has been said about my HIV advocacy but not much has been said about my being a writer, considering that I’ve been working professionally as a writer since I was fourteen years old (and that’s twenty-three years ago!). I know I’m not the best writer out there but I’ve learned so much over the years and the organisers of the workshop asked me to talk about my life as a professional writer. The younger writers might want to know what it takes to survive and support yourself as a professional writer. I may not be the best writer out there but when it comes to supporting yourself as a writer, I was pretty successful at that, and I’ve lived on my own for several years on writing work alone.
And I’ve made a lot of connections and built my network and I’ve made many, many friends with amazing writers and we’ve talked about the industry, craft, inspiration, and the writer’s life that I have a lot of things to share that they may not have access to.
I always thought that true artists are never stingy with their experiences and that true artists are happy to share what they know because the point is to have more art out there in the world. I feel that artists that don’t help other artists (especially the younger, less established ones) are not being true to the process. But that’s just my belief. What we do and how we dot things can be taught and should be taught because at the end of the day, we all have different things to say and different experiences to share. Craft, and what we do with it, only helps us get our message across. Having a message that speaks truthfully and truly about you and your perception of the world is something that cannot be taught and that’s what separates every artist out there.
I’m more than happy to have more writers, more good writers out there. Keeping it all to myself so that I can go far in the industry doesn’t suit me and won’t benefit the world. If I’m to make it far in the industry and as an artist, I have to be make myself better and not be afraid of other writers.
It’s not a competition. It never has been. Everyone benefits when people share.
I received the workshop materials today and I realised that these works were written by a very young generation. I’m wondering if they’re high school because I’m a little afraid if I discover that they’re college kids. First thing I noticed? I’m not sure about the quality of their reading habits. The poetry pieces lacks the basic structure and core of a poem. The fiction pieces are hollow.
I’m going to have to be the mean one, I think, and I have to teach the basics.
But I’m happy to do it. I’m happy to get that out there.
There’s work to do.