An introduction

1. You give me the pleasure of having an audience

My favorite anecdote about writing is this: A friend attended a national writers workshop and his work was lambasted. Imagine how painful it must be for him, hearing the critiques, pretending to be fine afterwards. To recover, he wrote his sentiments down.

That’s how you know you’re meant to do something. It’s a reflex.

When I realized that my natural response to things is write, I decided that Language will be my Northern Star. I will go wherever it leads me. I studied Literature, I took jobs as a communications assistant, an English tutor, a travel and lifestyle writer. In college I was thinking in poetry. In the mid-2000s I was thinking in blogs. In 2008 I started thinking in aphorisms — in 140 characters.

This blog, which I created in 2003 (that period between graduating and signing an employment contract), has been a steady outlet for my writing. What began as a space for well-meant bullshit became a confluence of my writerly selves, my many voices.

While my byline has appeared in reputable publications in every available platform, most of the ideas I hold dear are here. Thank heavens for technology — for blogs, really, because I would explode if these thoughts didn’t find expression. And at least here it’s less of a one-way conversation.

I’ll do what I do anyway — it’s a reflex, but I would be lying if I said I had no need for kind words. Writing is that job where you know you’re a rockstar but you don't get an applause. It’s a solitary occupation. Often it feels like talking to a ghost. But when you see the shares, the likes, when someone surprises you with a message of admiration or gratitude for what you’ve written, the ghost becomes human. The weather turns warm.

2. Why I love blogging more than ever

In 2012 I wrote:

"9 years ago I dreamed of becoming a writer. 2 years ago I became a professional one: I write; I get paid. Since then I have loved this blog more than I ever did. Because (cheesy as it sounds) this is me.
. . . .
Before, I was aching to get published and I knew that getting published would feel amazing. It does. It did. It does when it matters. Now, having your work and your thoughts printed and disseminated seems to be the easiest occupation. So my dream has changed, or it has at least reverted to my principal dream, and that is to write well."

Making a career out of your passions can bring you to an identity and integrity crisis. When I was hired in the marketing department of a local newspaper five years ago, I thought in advertorials. I understood what “ ulture shock” meant when I entered the publishing industry. Writers put their names on barely edited press releases and call it a day. You’d be asked to state something you didn’t believe in. Because everyone was doing it, you’d figure it was okay.

There are stuff that are very not okay, however. I still can’t get over seeing my name on heavily revised articles, and articles that are almost entirely written by another. I still sometimes beat myself up for allowing these to happen.

And so this blog has also meant that. I’ve learned a lot, which means a lot must be unlearned. This is my constant attempt to write well and be a person of integrity. This all me: the good, the bad syntax, the ugly.

3. A few more notes

R Library is mainly a personal journal, and as one that is public, several facts and information have been distorted to protect or embellish other facts and information. Some entries are outright fiction.

Also archived here are published stories I’m proud of, many of which I wrote for Interlineal, Gist, The Philippine Star; while a number of photos and travelogues posted earlier are inspired by my works at Asian Traveler Magazine, Rektikano Magazine, and other publications.

I periodically tinker with the blog's design. Am no expert, so some of the changes I've made may have caused broken links, non-showing or horrendously cropped images, faulty text wraps and other layout mishaps that spoil the reading experience. (The latest update — April 2017 — automatically center-aligns block quotes, thus affecting all the poetry I've quoted here.) Apologies.

Speaking of design, the background image is by Sean Eidder.

4. The joy of writing

Before I thought it was about the power of control. “Order out of chaos.”

You know how fictionists say that their characters are developing a mind of their own? That they can’t make them do certain things anymore? And so the narrative goes in a direction that’s different from what they set out?

I think it’s the same with all forms of writing, whether it’s a blog, a poem, or an essay. You have this concept in your head, a finished product. For some reason it will never be what you pictured it to be.

Sometimes a phrase, a sentence, or a metaphor that you’ve been hanging onto — that which may have inspired the piece, ends up having no place in it. And yet if you follow through, even if it’s not what you've planned, the final draft will always be right.

The joy of writing remains the same for me. It’s about power, that sense of control. But now the practice also serves as a sweet reminder that you can’t have full control, and what you can’t control, you learn to dance with it.

Thank you for reading.

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