better

I’m not as good as I want to be as a writer. I’ve accepted that fact that I’m more of an idea, concept, structure person than I am an actual writer. That goes with my poetry, my scripts, my fiction. There’s always something really flawed with my execution and I’ve accepted that fact. At my age, and with my experience and all the reading that I’ve done, I should be a whole lot better than I currently am.

I’ve sort of accepted that and that’s, like, the tip of the iceberg of the things I shared with Jam Pascual, when we hung out. I just pretty much accepted the fact that my skills and talent were better suited at conceptualisation and creation but not actual writing execution. I’m lazy when it comes to grammar and word choices. I like writing in heat but I’m fearful of the edit cold process. It’s tedious work, really, the editing process but it’s probably the most important part of the work because that’s when the technique and the craftwork really comes in.

I’m very particular about that when talking to other artists and when I give workshops but when it comes to my own work, I’m very lax about that part of the process.

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I’m ready to do the work. I want to improve. (Photo by Tuchi Imperial)

I like creating. I like writing. I’ve never allowed myself to nurture the process of gestation, of revision, and really applying craft. All heart and no head. It’s half the work.

If I’m allowed to make excuses, I can trace the roots as far back to when I was fourteen and I started working. I wrote comic books professionally and I had a weekly deadline. 32 pages every Wednesday. The work had to be given to my translator to translate the work to Filipino before it was given to the artist for rendering into art.

Coupled with school work, I had to rush everything. Thinking up the stories and writing them down was easy for me but I didn’t have the time to sit down and really look at the work objectively and improve it. I got paid, the comic book did well, and there was no need to improve on my process.

And that followed throughout my writing career. The deadline was always so near and the work I submitted was always good enough to be printed and it just went through minor editing on the editors part. I never felt or was given an imperative to let the work settle and then rework it and make it better.

And I was okay with that and over the course of the years, I look at all my contemporaries in the industry and all the upcoming, emerging writers and find my work mediocre.

I’m a mediocre writer. I’d like to think you can see the potential and the talent but it has never grown or gotten better and I was okay with that. I just chalked it up to just not being a writer but a storyteller.

But after finally saying it aloud to Jam that Friday night, I realised on the drive home that I wasn’t okay with it. I wasn’t. I’m not.

I want to be better. I want to develop and grow and I want to be way more than I am now.

So I am going to have to change the way I write. I’m going to have to start, at such a late age, to instil and develop and nurture the process of revision and reworking. I have to acquire the skill of patience, to create piecemeal and then to develop it and develop it and put it out there when it’s right and ready.

I’m starting that today. I’m going back to my old poetry books and starting there. I’m going back to the beginning. I’m beginning with poetry.

I’m not a quitter. I’m not going to settle. So, I might not be sharing poetry drafts anymore. I’ll probably still do Twitter poems as an exercise but no more working on Instagram or posting of poem drafts here on the blog.

From now on, I am going to let them sit and settle and then push and pull at them until they are just right.

Because I am not going to be a mediocre poet. I’m not going to be a mediocre writer. I am not. I am not going to be mediocre. Not while I have the awareness to know that I am and I have the skill and the know-how to improve. I’m not lazy. I don’t ever want to be.

6 thoughts on “better

    • I love that: “Any goal needs some measure of accountability.”

      Thank you. I really appreciate it. šŸ˜Š That’s very kind of you. And it’s great to know that these are not just empty declarations because someone is pushing.

      There’s a push both internally and externally. Thank you.

  1. I just look at your blog for a second, and comparing it to mine.
    And I have to say. If you are mediocre I must be hell of a low-life.
    All I can give you is a compliment. I wish I could talk smart like that.
    I don’t really get pushing internally and externally except when it is about giving birth?… well I dont know that either, I’m a guy!

    I recognize aspects like writing in heat, and it’s true.
    The best ideas are given by the moment.

    I don’t think to long. And difficult words are only harder to explain.
    I stick with simplicity. I may not have read alot, and thus I am judged lower because someone who did, tells me to read things that I interest myself in like philosophy and questions of life.

    I have no idea how I write but English is not my native language.
    Good luck sharpening your skills.

    • Thank you, Milan.

      Being pushed internally means that the pressure to improve comes from within myself. Pushing externally means that the pressure to improve comes from an outside source, like when someone pushes you to be better, like how Clark offered to check up on me in the comment above.

      I feel that while the best ideas are given by the moment, to be really great as a writer, you have to be able to take that idea and then form it through technique over time. That’s what I was trying to say.

      And while it would be great if you read more, you shouldn’t be judged lower because of it; especially if you write with truth. I know quite a few writers, excellent ones, who don’t read a lot either.

      Simplicity is really important. So I tend to over-write, say so much, because I’m scared that writing more overcompensated for my lack of skill.

      Thank you for your comment. Even if English isn’t your first language, I understood what you were saying to me. And I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you so much!

  2. Blogging and journalism are good avenues for the rush-writer. You don’t spend too much time editing.
    However, you cannot develop long, winding stories since blogs and articles generally have to be short.
    I’m like you: I like creating, I like running after my imagination which is always a step or two ahead of me in the story, and I definitely don’t like editing “forever.” It feels like examining each word under a magnifying glass, evaluating, trying a synonym, changing the word, the sentence, the…
    Tedious!
    That’s what it is. šŸ™‚

    • It’s tedious, for sure, but it’s what needs to be done to get the writing to be just right.

      I want to be that writer. I want to be like Mary Oliver and David Mitchell and Sharon Olds and Patti Smith.

      That’s what I’m aiming for.

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