Monday, June 30, 2003

Learning To Write

I’m a frustrated writer. It irks me, the fact that I can’t get a good narrative going despite the bazillion ideas that flood my head. I can’t even get myself to finish my Hinirang short story. I sit in front of the computer, open the file, read through it till the point where I left off, and I’m stumped.

Dean gave me good advice, that I should stop bleeding over it for a while. He said that maybe the story wasn’t meant to be finished, or that it needs to sit on the shelf till such time that I could go back to it. But knowing me, it would be more of the former, because that story is as good as gone the moment I shelve it.

One of the tips given to aspiring writers is encapsulated in two words. Read. Write. Read and write furiously. Get the hang of stringing words together and hopefully some panoply of narrative takes shape. Read as much as possible to get the feel of rhythm, flow and structure. To determine for oneself what works and what doesn’t work.

There really should be no pressure here. The anxiety I feel over this elusive art is more my choice. I want to be a damn good writer. I want to be able to gain that discipline, to unearth on a regular basis the magic that the written word carries. My first short story ever, Lu Parlore d’Anjelia, is by and far a fluke. It is, to my mind, worthless until I’m able to finish another story. And another. And another. Five short stories at least, before I can safely say that I can write to my satisfaction. Yes, I’m pressuring myself.

But God is fair, as they say. I already have a reservoir of skills and people have voiced out their envy when they discover the myriad ‘professional-results’ things I can do, whether it be in design, illustration, singing, acting, project planning, teaching, events hosting, and even some writing. (Forgive me, this is about the only place where I can express some haughtiness.) Why should I even shove my face against a brick wall to be a capable prose writer?

To me, writing is, in some fashion, a quicker fix. In my limited world view, a really really inspired seasoned writer could finish a ten-page (12 point, double spaced) short story in a day, perhaps a couple of days if some editing is done to polish the work. All the qualities of a great story can be infused into this in a short span of time. The writer in this case is artistically satiated after two days.

But a really really inspired pencils-and-inks comics artist can’t, in any conceivable way, finish a ten-page meticulous set of comics pages in a day, even two days, if the artist’s intention is to subject the work to the gush of skill and craft. On a good day, I clock at two to three hours average per semi-detailed page, plus another thirty minutes or so to give my hand a break.

So I want to learn how to write well to get some of the excess storylines out of the way. Satisfy myself faster compared to doing them in comics form. This may not sound like the most noble reason to want to learn how to write, definitely not. So may I say this: I want to learn how to write prose because I want to tell stories. And tell them well, without having to spend twice or thrice as long (or more) drawing them. There are things that the written word can do that comics cannot and I’d like to reach a point where I can handle them with confidence. In prose, when you’re done with the writing, you’re fine. In comics, just doing a script is pointless. (My friend David can attest to this, and how.)

And you can write wherever, too. In a coffee shop or restaurant, at work during a break, while taking a crap even. Not so with drawing comics.

Some of you might think, “You’re blogging almost everyday. Doesn’t that count for something?” Yes it does. But I don’t blog to create masterpieces.

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