Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My letter to Anne

In 2014, Franziska Garner had a fantastic idea to collect the stories of Anne's readers of how her books touched their lives, compile them into a book, and send it to her as a birthday gift. That little project became a reality, and I sent in my four-page story. Here it is...

As I write this the rain pours outside in torrents that would scare any tourist. We, the locals, are used to this: one moment the sun shines blinding and strong and the heat is unbearable. A fool prays for rain. The next moment a thunderclap and that prayer is answered with huge drops of water. The streets begin to form puddles then floods, the skies darken, the temperature drops several degrees. I was walking home when this happened. I did not even run. I'm not afraid of the roaring thunder, or the electric-skin-tingling lightning. An Irish friend, her first time here in the Philippines several years ago, was travelling with me when the weather likewise lost its temper. She cried out in the car, "What is happening to your country? This is the end! Everything will be washed away."

"Surely it rains in Ireland," I asked, puzzled by her reaction.

"Not like this," she attested.

Now the sun fights for its chance to reign in the skies, and I remember what my grandmother told me as a boy, "When it is both rainy and sunny at the same time, there's a tikbalang getting married. Don't go out to play." The tikbalang are creatures of lore, with the strong muscular body of a man and the hooves and head of a horse. They are deceitful, and often take the form of a gentleman. Brides are supposed to think twice if there's strange weather on their wedding day. Their fianc├ęs might be a tikbalang in disguise.

Though now I wonder what woman would not be happy to find a man whose sex organ is the size of a horse's.

Anne, thank you for your stories. Thank you for taking me to places both dark and light, safe and unsafe, in your books. More importantly, thank you for the characters that have become my friends, heroes, aspirations and also the embodiment of my fears. I wanted to tell you how I've become your fan.

(To be continued in tomorrow's post.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

When blocked

Anne has great advice for when the writing dries up and you are hit with writer's block. She said that one thing to do is to simply, write. Pick up the pen and write. Write through the block. I think this is the simplest, most powerful advice that truly blasts block to smithereens.

Believe in yourself and tell your story.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Formal education

We have to point out here that Anne is well educated. She earned her B.A. in Political Science in 1964 from the San Francisco State University, and in 1972 graduated with an M.A. in Creative Writing. Still, she gives this selfless advice and opens the door wide for all wannabe writers, such as myself.

This one hits pretty much closed to home, because I have never earned a bachelor's degree and have consistently failed in college. It's wise words like these that inspired me to keep reaching for my dream in spite of not having a diploma.

I am happy to report that this year, 2016, I'll be a published novelist, and also working on new novels. The only one that can stop as from being writers is ourselves. So, don't. Pick up your pen and write that story that wants to pour itself out of you onto the page.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Have nerve

Whenever I feel blocked about my writing, I go back to Anne's writing advice, and there's lots she gave on her YouTube channel. Among the many novelists who talked about the writing process, Stephen King, Ursula K. LeGuin, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, it seems to me that Anne is the least self-serving, least self-mythologizing, and completely selfless in her encouragement of those who wish to take the trail the writing path.

I think it's because, no matter how far along she's gone in her writing life, she's never forgotten how she started, and so her advice is always valuable, always pragmatic. This one here, is one that I often return to. Thanks to Becket for making these memes.