Of life, writing, and strange things  

Posted by Laya in

Life is good for a writer

"...life is a good thing for a writer. It's where we get our raw material, for a start. We quite like to stop and watch it." - Neil Gaiman

A friend of mine in another blogging community once told me, when I was lamenting writer's block:

"the gift never leaves you. it merely begins to sleep for a time. but even so, it will come back if you sit down w/ a notebook and pen. perhaps however what you need to do is go into the world and see it. they "write what you know". i believe in that--to an extent. but in order to have something worth saying, i wholeheartedly believe that you must continue to experience things to find your inspiration.

so rather than cursing the fact that your pen or cursor do not move, i suggest calling a friend and going out into this crazy world, taking in the sights and sounds of the people around you.

the gift never leaves you, and perhaps this will be a good way to re-connect w/ it?"

Yup, what books could we possibly churn out if we were trapped in an ivory tower, like Rapunzel? We would be chained forever to watching the world pass by in a mirror, like the Lady of Shalott. And theories are all well and good, but they still don't beat the authority of having experienced or seen something for yourself. Well, most things, anyway.

I think it's not just the actual experience, or the number of experiences, that one has to have in one's life, though. It's the ability to live in the moment that a writer has to have. It's the ability to look around you at a particular moment in time and be aware of everything: the sound of the aircon or electric fan, the coolness or warmth of the room, the prickles in your leg that had gone to sleep, the sound of your computer keyboard. It's the awareness that your hair has fallen out of its bun and is straggling around your shoulders, that somewhere outside your neighbors are yelling at each other because of money problems and their child is crying, and that your elderly neighbor on the other side is exercising on her rooftop to the tune of Spaghetting Pababa while wearing a purple leotard. When you have that awareness and you can write it down, you can then communicate it to your reader so that he or she can be transported to the same scene through vicarious experience.



Ever since I was a child, I have had these strange experiences of being able to stand apart from myself and view a scene or a moment from the viewpoint of a stranger. I don't know if it is cause for alarm, though (do any of you shrinks or pop psychologists have an interpretation for this?)... anyway, read on.

I can remember many of these instances, triggered when I focus on something very intently. You know that moment when you stare at a word for so long that it becomes a meaningless jumble of letters? Or at an object, until you lose all sense of the object itself and see only a meaningless jumble of colors and shapes? I remember brushing my teeth while staring at the wall and thinking "wall", and then something fell out of sync, and I began to turn over the word "wall" in my mind and see the individual letters in themselves. Then, I began thinking about why the word is as it is, and from that leapt to the question of identity (why are things named so and not so?), and before I knew it, I was standing there with foam still in my mouth, questioning my own identity and getting lost in my own mind. It was a very alien feeling. I felt as if a stranger had taken over my own skin and I was looking through that stranger's eyes and questioning every thing that should have been familiar to me.


Another world

Anyway, that reminds me of a moment about a month or so ago. Easter Sunday, I believe. I spent the holidays with friends, and that afternoon I was sitting outside in a hummock, enjoying the breeze and my last few moments of peace before I had to go back to the bustle of the city.

I was also idly watching and listening to everything around me... my friends' relatives and neighbors gathered at the gate, gossiping. Who won the lotto, who had problems with their husbands, why did the couple next door have a quarrel at the tops of their voices so early in the morning, what grades or year levels would their children be in June, who was courting whom, who was marrying whom. There were children running, playing games, rolling tires, playing chinese garter, eating fishballs, or isaw, or buying junk food from my friend's store. Across the street, at the bilyaran, the men of the community were either playing billiards or tong-its, and their wives were also discussing how to make their men stop.

In short, there were Larry Alcala vignettes everywhere.

As I watched and listened to them, so engrossed in the minutiae of their everyday lives, I realized that although I could blend in with them to the extent that most of them treat me as part of the family, there was a part of my life that they could never understand.

I know what a takalanan (people borrow money and pay for it with rice) is, and how a farmer's life goes. I know the tribulations of a sari-sari store / barbecue stand owner. I know how they live. I can live with them.

But they don't know what a blog is. What Plurk is, or twitter. Or LOLcats. Or even just LOL. Or a meme (as in sleep? they might ask). They would not understand why I spend so much time plugged in to the Internet. Or why I love reading for its own sake.

I looked up to the sky and realized that for most of them, the four corners of their barangay, of their town, was all they knew. That of all present, I might be the only one who knew of many more worlds than the one I was in, the only one who could walk in more worlds than they could know or even imagine. I was bound only by the limits of my own mind, but they were firmly rooted in their place. Yet, I was the one who could walk anywhere, fit in anywhere, but belong nowhere, while they knew of no other place than where they were, and did not care. And I didn't know whether to feel sorry for them or to feel sorry for myself.

This entry was posted at Tuesday, June 02, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

0 people cared

Post a Comment

Quality affordable condos in Manila

Own an affordable Ayala Land condominium in the heart of Manila. It's located beside SM San Lazaro, a five-minute ride away from the University Belt and UST, and a stone's throw from LRT Tayuman Station.

Now pre-selling units in Tower 5.
Studio (22.4 - 23.49 sq. m.) - P1.6M - P1.8M
1BR (39.36 - 40.73 sq. m.) - P2.9M - P3.3M
2BR (45.49 sq.m.) - P3.5M - P3.8M
Loft (39.85 - 66.83 sq. m.) - P3.2M - P5.1M

For inquiries please contact Eva at
or email mhie(underscore)bate22(at)yahoo(dot)com

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
MeFindome.org: Homeless Cats & Dogs for Adoption