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.
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.