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Writing Battles

I can forgive ego if its vastness is commensurate to one’s talent. But I just cannot put up with aspiring writers who display such arrogance when their work is simply crappy.

Is it the air that we’re breathing over here? Or could it be the soda overload? Whatever it is, more and more people in this industry I am in are blatantly displaying this false sense of excellence (thanks to JF for the phrase). And it’s horrible. It scares me that one day I could be like them too. It’s a battle I fight every day.

I am starting to feel like a grown-up Holden Caulfield, sizing up people, separating the real ones from the poseurs. And I hate it. At my age, I should be just happily editing and writing, not picking battles with writers whose egos are about the size of Mars but whose talent is as minute as the point of a pen.

Which is why I miss Global Sources, with its editors and writers who provided brilliant conversations; where everyday goals were simply about delivering quality articles that made the grade; where we argued endlessly about grammar and style (and laughed about how nerdy we were); where people had more respect for fellow writers and editors; where you could be blown away by how talented people were yet how humble they could be.

I’ve never had someone give me this attitude back at Global Sources. In fact, take out one or who people who were full of themselves but were nevertheless brilliant, it was a quiet group of people who enjoyed drinking once a year (every December) and had respect for each other. I’ve never seen anyone throw her weight around because she thought she was the best in the crop.

I am more blown away by the attitude of someone who claims to be creative writer yet cannot even get her tenses right or her subjects and verbs to agree. (Is an institution whose name ends in s considered plural, for one? Is that a new rule that someone made up while I was sleeping?)

My running conversation with JF has been like this: “Were we like that when we were 22?” Because I don’t remember having displayed such arrogance in the face of criticism. We learned to take them in stride and worked on improving our craft. And we certainly didn’t claim to be writers, because back then, we didn’t even think we were worthy of the tag.

But this crop of aspiring writers–full of arrogance yet not having proven themselves yet. It would give Sam Dixon a heart attack!





It’s Payback Time

It is 1 a.m. on a Monday and I am stuck writing a piece for an oral reading competition.

I promised myself six months ago that I would end this habit of writing at 1 am. The idea gets me constipated.

No, I am not getting paid to do it. Call it “happily paying one’s dues.” The piece is for my favorite high-school teacher Ms. Sato, who is competing this week. She e-mailed me several days ago asking if I could write a 5- to 7-minute piece for her. “It’s for your alumni, dear,” she said. How could I refuse such a plea?

So here I am, on my second leg of rewriting. I spent all afternoon Saturday sitting in front of my laptop thinking of what to write. (Please, don’t tell me, “You’ve been writing for a decade now! How can you not get that piece right?”)

These are one of those days when I tell myself, gently, “Darling, put away your laptop and find a different career. You’re a bad writer.”

Currently Reading: He’s Just Not That into You

hes-just-not-that-into-youDear Greg,

There’s this guy I met a couple of weeks back, and he seems really funny and cool and so interested in me. I honestly thought we were on the same page. In fact, we’ve “gone out” a couple of times (mainly to a fast-food place, because it’s the only thing open at 4 a.m.), and the conversations through SMS and chat (despite the fact that he’s just an arm’s throw away) have been warm, romantic, and intimate, I must say.

But the last two weeks, I’ve been getting a 404, which I initially dismissed as just a grumpy middle-age guy having those moments because of a recent operation.I mean, really, Greg, when you’re in so much pain, how can you think about romance? He tells me he’s just in so much pain, so he can’t text me back or go out for a walk, which I believed for some time.

And then a good friend at work thought she had to intervene because I was starting to fall, and she gave me your book, He’s Just Not That into You. I heard about this book years ago but never bought a copy because I didn’t want a complete stranger giving me advice about a guy I know very well. Hello? I get all that from my friends. Why would I want to know what you think?

I read the book in just one day. It was funny and wicked and enlightening, and you really had me there, Greg. You’re right. He just wants something else. He’s not a bit interested in the book I’m writing. He doesn’t seem to want to get to know me more. I really thought we connected, but then, it was just as well. I was starting to get distracted, and I can’t afford that. Not when I’m writing a book.

So thanks, Greg. You were a lot of help. But I’m still looking for a way to prove you wrong. He can’t be not that into me!


I try not to write too personal posts here, but I wrote this one several nights ago when I was stuck doing SEO writing and could not move on. It was good writing exercise. What’s yours?

I learned early in life not to be attached to people, places, and things. My family moved around a lot from city to city when I was a kid. I learned to say goodbye and not expect to be back. I learned to resign myself to giving up the house I had gotten used to, the comfort of having a big, loud extended family sharing the household, and friends with whom my budding friendships were interrupted.

But over the course of my teenage years, I started to crave for these roots, which to me were unclear. Always when asked where I came from, I wouldn’t know what to say. Should I say Baguio, where I was born? Bacolod, where my parents are from? Or Butuan, where I spent my teenage years?

It’s probably the reason I don’t allow friendships to get to the point of serious. I was always afraid of people moving and “leaving” me and forgetting me. B, who was my friend up to two years ago, proved to me that friendships can last even across the seas, and it’s only unfortunate that a boyfriend had to come between us. M, whom I know I am dear to as she is to me, “disappeared” after moving to Dubai, and not even the powers of Google can help me find her. I’d like to think she thinks of me sometimes as I do think of her.

It’s also probably the reason I cannot see beyond six months from now. I know I want to go abroad. I know I want a better life. I know that plans may fall through. Even my household management is affected. Should I buy a real bed or just invest in a mattress? Should I put up curtains or leave the previous tenants’ blinds up? Should I buy a new refrigerator or stick with the current second-hand model?

It always gets me to thinking that something major might happen. I might move. I might have to give up this residence. I will have to sell my possessions and start from scratch again at thirty.

But there are things I get used to—intangible things like having a warm body beside me at night, which makes me sleep well. Coming home to a hot breakfast cooked by my own mother. A loved one who is online when I am and who answers e-mails. A boyfriend who will come back, because buying a bedding set and matching tableware is something serious, you know? A friend who tags along when I need coffee.

But who was it who said life was constant? We all have to live with these changes. Am coping, but it doesn’t mean I have stopped missing.

Like mother, like son

My son Jacob grew up wanting to be a book editor like me. He would say, “When I grow up, I want to work at your office at so-and-so.”

I remember when I was project manager for this print-on-demand publishing firm that there were nights I’d come home very late and not get to see him for three straight days, so I’d make up by bringing him to work and he’d settle into one of the empty walk-in closets in the office and read, color, cut paper, or do something productive.

Other times I’d bring a lot of work home, mostly printouts of manuscripts that needed reviewing, and skim through them while he’d sit beside me reading. The printouts would end up in two piles: one with corrections would be brought back to the office. The clean pages would go to him, and he’d pretend he’d be editing them as well.

I didn’t realize how absorbed he was with this “writer” and “editor” thing until recently, when he did the opening prayer during his preschool graduation. My mom, who had been a school principal in her working years, had drawn up the prayer for my little boy and practiced him every night so he would perfect it.

Of course, the ever-stubborn boy would not just take the draft as is: he had his own questions too. One line went, “This will be the last time that we will see each other–all 36 of us . . .” and this six-year-old disagreed with “all 36 of us” because “it is not a sentence, and it is grammatically incorrect”!

My mom was certainly shocked but kept her temper in check. “It’s for emphasis,” she says. “Writers do it a lot.”

And my boy said, “Well, you’re NOT a writer.”

Ooops. Now that’s what I mean by “a little knowledge . . .”

I Am Still Alive

March is ending soon, and I realized today that it’s been ages since I last updated this writing/portfolio site. I’ve been busy here and juggling my full-time job and a Web content project now on its second month, so everything’s good.

At work, I have been doing a lot of writing for e-mail campaigns and studying Constant Contact and other EMC programs. I’m excited to try these out. I’ve also been doing a lot of blogging and managing forums for my full-time job, and it’s exciting, but at the same time draining because there’s the need to constantly keep abreast of what’s happening in the market. But who said work would be easy, eh?

I am compelled, though, to update this site every now and then, if only to thank the gods of the Internet for sending some clients to me without my looking for them. I mentioned before that freelance workers, and writers especially, must have an online presence so they can reach more people and have a venue to promote their work and what they can do. (Okay, I hope that didn’t seem too self-important.)

Someone, a Filipina, was searching for “Filipino writer” and found her way to this site. And the rest is history. This is good. Maybe I need not move to Singapore after all.

I know I’ve said a lot of bad things about technology and how it has ruined our lives (like it enabled men to cheat easily, for example), but well, for this one instance, the online gods have smiled on me.

And You Up There, thank you too. 🙂

P.S. Will write more about writing and books when I get back. Just let me finish this week and give me my space, just for now. I have so much to tell.