The Reason I Write

May 12, 2012

Let’s start this essay a bit of self-deprecation. To be honest, I don’t consider myself a good writer, but I am certain that writing is one of my hobbies. I do it when I feel inspired. I do it when I have a story to tell. I do it when I want people to know something, or when I just need my emotions to run free.

However, I just came across a thought a while ago. Why did I start writing in the first place? I mean, I could have been interested in any other hobby as life permitted me to be. I could have taken up dancing or some sport or public speaking or painting, etc. So why writing?

I think that at the core of it all, I write because I couldn’t draw. I could not draw to save my life. Seriously. I am absolutely no good at the visual arts. I have developed a keen sense of appreciation for it, and I believe I could say with conviction that I have developed my own personal style or preference for art. Unfortunately, all these imaginative concepts stay in my head because my hands simply refuse to coordinate with the right hemisphere of my brain and translate the images on paper or canvas.

I’ve always secretly been envious of people who could draw. Ever since the second grade, I have been aware of this jealousy. I still remember two of my classmates, Joshua and Celiz, who were amazing artists, and at the age of eight, they could sketch any cartoon character in complete likeness and even invent their own. In high school, my friend Therese was the resident artist of not just our batch, but I believe the whole school. She was the best and she had her own unique style that was unmistakable. She did drawings, landscapes, still life when she was bored in class, paintings for the school paper covers, and dress sketches for prom.

I could never do any of that. I was never a master of form and lines, and I even have trouble drawing a perfect circle (even though it is believed that engineers are required to do so). I couldn’t draw and I couldn’t paint, and God knows that I’m a mediocre photographer. See, even with the camera, that instrument that put painters out of business in the early days, that medium that allowed for a snapshot of reality which was more real than any hand-made work, I could not bend towards my will, to capture that vision in my head.

That is why I write. I paint with words. My lines are the lines of each paragraph, and my sketches are drafts. My colors are my adjectives and my canvas is a blank page or an empty Word Document if I’m working on a computer. I may not be eloquent with my hand strokes, but I like to think my vocabulary makes up for it. Also, I do believe that style is as intrinsic to writing as it is in the visual arts. There is style in semantics and tone. I don’t think you’d argue with me when I say that Wilde’s iridescent essays that sound good both when said aloud and read silently are as unmistakable as Van Gogh’s impressionism. Writing is distinguishable even though when looked at from afar, it all looks the same – a block of letters printed on paper.

On another note, I think that writing has an advantage over the visual arts sometimes. Paintings and drawings – they are so obscene (for lack of a better word). The image in the artist’s head is already out there for you to see. It isn’t a perfect copy of the idea, but it’s certainly close enough if the artist deems it to be. The message is clear and with just one glance, you can absorb all the emotions and colors that jump at you as the light hits the artwork’s surface. Of course, there are abstract paintings, works of the modern era, where you just stare at paint splashes and paint lumps and stripes or dots and wonder what they could all mean. Apparently, the artist was trying to portray a deer, or some sort of far-fetched idea you couldn’t connect yourself. For those kinds of artworks, you do have to try a little bit harder, but even that isn’t half as hard as the effort you have to put in when you read writing.

With writing, it’s different. You paint word by word, and the audience can only take in the picture word by word and not at one glance. It has to be perused, digested bit by bit in order to make sense. There is a need for coherence, where each line flows as smoothly as waves of water and each line just carries the reader on to the next line until he or she finishes the whole paragraph and blinks in understanding.

The greatest part about writing is that it is the opposite of the visual arts in the sense that it is not as obscene. It requires two sets of imagination – the artist’s and the audience’s. A detailed description can only go so far. There is beauty in the imperfection of words – they are limited and subjective. They are not accurate, changing from language to language, and even the specific portrayal in text of ‘dark mahogany brown bathed in the fading sunlight from a dusty window’ can still differ from person to person. That way, the limitation of words to produce one exact picture, is its own strength because in the mind of each reader, there is a different and unique picture painted there, and with it, each reader is able to recognize and establish a different sense of beauty.

The image that the reader establishes in his or her mind might be a far cry from the image in the writer’s mind. Given, there could be some things in the writer’s intention that could be lost in translation. However, the writer is fully aware of this. I am fully aware of this, and I feel no frustration if a reader comes up to me with a totally different take or concept of my work as compared to what I originally planned. The difference is opinions, at least for me, is nothing but grounds for more creative discussions, and since two sets of imagination are involved, the message I initially intended to get across gets added on to by my reader with his or her own personal input, and I only think that makes the message more effective; it makes the message hit closer to home for the reader because he interprets it in his own special way.

So basically, that is why I write. After all is said and done, I write because I absolutely suck at drawing.

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They say…

March 15, 2012

They say there’s a first time for everything. There’s the first time you learned how to swim – that fleeting moment when you realized that you cannot, in fact, breathe underwater, but that trying to do so would earn you enormous gulps of chloroformed liquid. There’s the first time you learned how to skip rope – that great feeling when you  finally got the rhythm your playmates were making, only to lose it a couple of seconds later when your legs got tangled in knots, but you didn’t exactly mind. There’s the first time you got drunk – that one party where everybody went crazy, and you were dizzy, but you were just too fcking happy to care.

However, if you were to be completely honest with yourself, there is nothing like visiting a new place for the first time… and getting lost. You swore you planned this trip for fun, but everything was going in the opposite direction; apparently your language skills were, too. Your own dialect simply cannot compete with the dialect of the locals.

You approached a kind looking old man with a straw hat. He was dressed in a dirty camisa de chino with worn out jeans splattered with mud. He was most likely a farmer or a forester, since you were stuck on one of the nature hike trails of the nth Chocolate Hill. Mosquitoes buzzed in  your ear and you heard the squawk of some tropical bird. You better hurry. It was 4:30 PM and nighttime was drawing near.

“Excuse me po…” You started out uncertain. The old man looked at you and you thought you just saw his right eye twitch. Maybe it was a mistake trying to talk to him in English. He frowned at you and turned around to give a loud call. Suddenly, his carabao popped out from behind the trees and followed the farmer as he walked further down the path that led to……… that’s just the thing. You didn’t know.

You put a hand on your hip and the other you stuffed in your pocket, trying to fish out your Blackberry. Once you finally got it, you brought it close to your face. You stomped your foot hard on the trail, crunching some unfortunate dry leaves in the process. Grunting, you sat down on a nearby boulder, curses thrown to the wind while you were doing so. No cell service. Seriously? After all the competition, or rather, in-your-face shoving of who the best network is, Globe still hasn’t bothered to put a cell tower in this region of Bohol? Seriously?

You put your phone down, looked at the trail, and clicked your tongue. Why did you end up lost anyway? The last thing you remember, you were jogging up the trail excitedly while singing to some LMFAO song and then… well, the trail started to grow rougher and the forestry thicker. You know you missed a sign somewhere that should have said “STOP WAIT STOP YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY NOW, STOP!”, but it really was no use wondering about it now, because as you said, you missed it.

“How am I supposed to get home now? I’m hungry.” You murmured to yourself, stomping your little feet, which were in Keds, on the trail once more. Bohol was such a wonderland until now. You then took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. You could find a way out of this. You were smart; you’ll find a way out…. but before looking for an actual solution, you promised yourself ten minutes of Tiny Tower first to clear your head. You whipped out your iTouch and tried to calm yourself down.

Oh, why, there you go! Another first – the first time you played with your iTouch in the middle of nowhere. Perfect. Another thing off your bucket list… but not really.

However, if there was one lesson you kept learning but always ended up forgetting, it was that the day wasn’t over until it actually was. So, as you were passionately restocking different floors on your Tiny Tower and helping helpless Bitizens find their peers, you didn’t hear the bicycle heading your way. Once the sound grew louder, you looked up, still skeptical if it really was wheels and gears you were hearing. Then, a flash appeared around the corner, and it stopped right in front of you. The skid from abruptly stopping the bike pushed some dirt on your legs and you tried to stop yourself from screaming out loud. Eyebrows furrowed, you faced the man on the bike and he took his helmet and sunglasses off to take a better look at you.

“Excuse me…” He then interrupted you. It was a good thing, too. You didn’t know what you were going to say next either – should you reprimand him for making you dirty or ask for directions?

“What are you doing here? It’s almost twilight and the park’s closing. You should head back down to the exit.”

“Uh.. yeah… where’s the exit? I’m kind of lost,” You say with a sheepish smile.

The man chuckled and replied, “Yeah, I kind of got that. We normally don’t have tourists sitting on boulders playing with their iTouch, but then maybe you just wanted to be one with nature or something.”

You tried to look at upset at his joke but a smile still lingered on your lips. “Yeah…. So… Uhm, I’m Gia.” But your thoughts were just like, HELP ME. Please?

“Ken,” He said withe a nod. “C’mon, I’ll walk you to the exit. We’ll have to go back up the trail and there’s a shortcut through the stairway from there.”

Cool. You finally found a way out of the wilderness with a guy who wasn’t exactly Bear Grylls, but at least he was way more charming.

They say there’s a first time for everything, and you just couldn’t deny that it’s one of life’s simple joys. The first time you meet a new friend. Yeah, this one’s for keeps. Maybe Bohol isn’t so bad after all.

*Sorry for inconsistent verb tenses. It’s a weakness of mine. I tried to make everything past tense here. Anyway, I’m working on it.

*Dedicated to my dear friend, Gia Basa.

For my roomie.

  1. How could you go wrong with those biceps? And those abs? Did I already mention those shoulders and pecs?
  2. Pretty convincing acting skills. When he looks like that, you tend to just buy whatever it is he’s saying.
  3. He will be your constant workout buddy, if not trainer.
  4. He will help, no, force you to stay in shape.
  5. He’ll only show his sweet, vulnerable side when he’s with you. Of course, it’s another story when he enters the wrestling arena.
  6. Awesome angry sex.
  7. Are you still keeping up?
  8. Just don’t… strain yourselves too much on number 6. Careful, hun.
  9. You’re basically dating a celeb.
  10. You get all the perks of dating a celeb. You know what I mean.
  11. You won’t be afraid to get rough with him. What’s the worst you can do?
  12. True love. No matter who that person is or what that person does, you’re still with someone who loves you, and I think that’s the best perk.