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The Hardest and Easiest Things to Write

The easiest thing to write is a resignation letter when you are ready to move on.

The hardest thing to write is a goodbye letter to the people you won’t see much of when you leave.

The easiest thing to write is a birthday greeting to someone whom you’re happy to see grow old a year.

The hardest thing to write is a eulogy to someone who would never grow old a year, not anymore.

The easiest thing to write is a will leaving all your money to someone whom you know will use it right.

The hardest thing to write is an invoice, asking a client to settle a long-delayed payment.

The easiest thing to write is a letter to someone you have no love for, someone you’d be very happy to be out of your life.

The hardest thing to write is a love note to someone whose cold heart will never be moved, not even by the most eloquent writers.


Why an Online Presence Is Important for Writers


If it were difficult to penetrate the international literary scene a decade ago, today many young Filipino writers are getting published in international magazines all because of the Internet. Furthermore, with the advent of Guru, Elance, and other job markets, Filipino writers are able get projects and commissioned work abroad. That means a wider market and more jobs (and more money!) for writers.

Many years ago when I applied for admission at the University of the Philippines, I was weighing the pros and cons of taking creative writing as against journalism. My parents’ advice echoed in my mind: You can never get rich by writing.

Of course, these days, making money through writing is not altogether impossible and one can actually live comfortably by doing copywriting, manuscript editing, and Web content work. While this isn’t the type of creative work that most writers aspire for, it brings food to the table, and whoever said you couldn’t write a novel or a short story on your days off, eh?

A project fell onto my lap a few weeks ago, courtesy of a forgotten profile on Perhaps things like this don’t happen frequently, but it bolsters what I have always believed in: for you to break borders and find jobs elsewhere, you must have an online presence.

My Favorite Font

I used to be a big Times New Roman user, and back at the publishing house where I used to work, one of the first things I did before editing a manuscript was to turn off track changes and convert the text to Times New Roman 11.

In the last two years of magazine work, however, I’ve discovered the sleek, more readable 10-point Trebuchet, finding Times New Roman illegible (or maybe it was my poor vision!)

Slate recently asked a number of writers what font they prefer, and it’s an interesting range: from Courier New to Palatino, and Century Schoolbook to Hoefler Text.

Nowadays I find that setting my MS Word document to Trebuchet has become a habit even when I write, although I try to use Verdana or Tahoma every now and then, for variety.

Jonathan Lethem, author, You Don’t Love Me Yet: A Novel

I dislike the temptation of making a raw draft look like it’s already typeset. Before computers, I wrote three novels on a typewriter, and there can never be anything but 12-point Courier (double-spaced) forever: I write on an eternal Selectric of the mind. I can even hear the rattle of the metal ball against the sheet of paper, I swear.

Read the full article here.

Rewriting and Letting Go

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian tells the story of Sibyl, a midwife whose patient dies duringmidwives1.jpg childbirth, prompting her to perform a C-section to save the baby.

However, the heroism is not rewarded. Sibyl, instead, is sued by the state for voluntary manslaughter. The story is told from Sibyl’s daughter’s point of view. The narration is candid, raw, and surprisingly touching. I was surprised that the author was male who was writing about one of the oldest professions in the world.

In an interview with Amazon, Bohjalian tells of the pain of rewriting and why he doesn’t read his books after publication.

There certainly is a finality in a book, of not being able to change anything once it has been printed, unlike a Web post that can be updated or taken down. Books are forever.

Anything is better than wondering (yet again) whether a particular metaphor for the color of blood is sufficiently precise; whether an exchange between two of the characters is plausible; or whether the opening is powerful or the ending is satisfying or why anyone who doesn’t share my last name would ever bother to read my new book.

I get this way whenever I finish a novel.

The truth is, I have never reread any of my books once they are between hard covers. It’s too painful.

Read more in Chris Bohjalian’s AmazonConnect blog.

My Chicago

My Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, arrived today through DHL—two weeks earlier than Amazon’s estimate.

With a pounding heart I slowly cut through the tape with a cutter—this three-inch-thick tome I’ve been wanting for three years. I inhaled its straight-from-the-storage- and-into-the-box smell, taking in its newness. Ahhh. No, this is no second-hand or discarded book. This is my very own copy, it’s spanking new, and I bought it on sale!

Now that I finally have it, I feel like fainting.

My love affair with Chicago goes back two years ago when I was managing a team of editors for a POD firm outsourcing to the Philippines. Back then my team—all eleven of us—shared a copy for more than a year before the COO relented and ordered another.

’s arrival has sparked interest among my co-workers, who, until recently, were versed only in AP and the house style. Now that I have Chicago and Sam, the resident style guru (a.k.a. the big boss of style), has the American Heritage Dictionary, he’s confident we’ll be able to approach style with a lot more swagger now.