Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gods Among Mortals

While typing this, I am drunk. Just to be clear, it is an excuse. I feel like a newborn each time I get to talk with them, like the weeks that went before. They, Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards winners, make it look and sound so easy. I have had several encounters, some brief more than others, with writers who have had the rare chance to be etched on the planks of Philippine literature, immortalized in no small way by their accolades and by pages read before people who seem mesmerized just by the utterance of the names of these literary heroes. If a scribe's prowess can be measured by trophies and medallions, I have more than a hundred miles to go. My depth is immeasurable simply because there is none to measure.

In their presence, I feel like a passing asteroid, or an obloquy. They are the nebulae that spawn genius that will last, perhaps, infinity or a lifetime. Before them, I am a dot yearning for a sentence to punctuate just to be of any use. I cannot fathom how much air I have to inhale so as to float and be one with these angels in the sky, or gods walking amongst, and drinking with, mortals.

I have read most of their writings. Each time I scour tomes for their short stories and essays and poems, I feel bemused. Their words make the reader think beyond what is necessary. After all, a carefully crafted literary piece can punch holes through any mind pretentious of being one within the same league as Milan Kundera, or Nick Joaquin, or Salvatore Quasimodo. I was taught that one of the greatest errors of any individual is to treat the self as a force larger than all living creatures combined. It is a fatal mistake that carries the penalty of the premature death of a dream.

They choose their metaphors with precision, never bloating a sentence with more figures of speech than what is needed, and yet never appearing too pale or anemic. In an effort to be gauged by some people as minimal but poignant, others decide to nip the flowers in their prose so that their words become sensible, all the while forgetting that literature is never spoon feeding. Some others, still, in an effort to be labeled by readers as deep, choose to build a garden on a pot, never realizing that words can only signify so much in so limited a space. It does not end there. Others, too, feel as though they have been born and raised as literary critics, blessed by some literary deity with the power of criticism that never bends, or is never crippled by a disease called self-restraint. They are willing to butcher a writer even before the first word is written.

I digress. A scrutiny of the paragraphs of the learned writers will yield no less than a blueprint that outlines in full detail what should be expressly stated and what should be left out for the reader's imagination to ponder upon. Ample room is given for the reader to flex her or his thoughts without necessarily obliterating the very raison d'etre of the piece. Their method is perfectly brilliant it scares the living daylights out of me. As it has been said countless times before, theirs is one that bears madness in method and method in madness. It cuts both ways, and that I have continuously failed to do.

I have always desired to be a published writer. It is bad enough to be a writer without having been published ever since. Worse, it seems unforgivable to be a writer with no reader to begin with. Perhaps, there is truth to the idea that, being a writer, you only need to have at least one reader—yourself. But it does not satiate the thirst in any conceivable way. It is as if you feed yourself but you remain hungry. You want to be nurtured by the hands of another, in some cases more literal than any given time. Maybe they are correct. Once you see yourself as a writer, it is inevitable that you will start to let the world know, as if your life depends on an umbilical cord that spreads out to every human being.

I feel too small, too small in fact that I cannot even see my self. The literary titans do not even dare lift their own seats. Perhaps, they let others do it for them, like a ritual tempered with habituation through time. I, a willing servant, have done so many instances before if only to let them be aware that their labor has never gone to naught. Somewhere, an apologetic apprentice is always prepared to stand at the swivel of the master, turning the wheel just to have a sense of direction. To learn is to swallow pride, allowing what little personal worth there is to be ingested by one's own intestines if only to be nourished. It is a humbling experience that carries more lessons than any manual for grammar and composition can offer.

Maybe this is what it feels like to be a mere mortal before the presence of gods, like an apostle—no, not even an apostle but a bystander—before a table surrounded by messiahs.


Shaninay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaninay said...

I have always believed in you and I always will. :) You are so much better than what you think of yourself. You melt hearts, now that's something godlike. =D

Umi said...

You should never feel that you're too small. As I can see, through your blog, you were able to influence a lot of people -- and that's not an easy thing.

I know the feeling. I'm an aspiring writer, I have professors who are palanca awardees, and yet, I can't write a piece as beautiful as this.

Believe in yourself. Maybe, few more years from now, your name would be etched together with the gods. :)

sub said...

if your mind can process a seemingly carefully written article when you're drunk, what more when you're sober? lol, convince me...

ill be a fan. always.

SPLICE said...

Thank you, but you still owe me beer hahaha! The paper was a big headache :P

"Believe in yourself."

I'll keep that in mind. Thank you :)

And, who knows, I just might also get to see your name together with the gods of literature in the coming years :)

Hahaha! Medyo naramdaman ko lang ulit kasi yung frustration ko sa pagsusulat kagabi after uminom. Hindi ko napigilan sarili ko na magsulat bago mawala ang "amats" :D

DENASE said...

beer is a writers's companion

Good day folk

SPLICE said...


So I've heard. It's the ambrosia of struggling writers who are not necessarily Greek gods.

Good day to you, too.

Shaninay said...

BIG thank you for again proving you're the best! Everr :pp Sorry for the paper, I promise to give you a BIG headache via a hangover. Our beerfest'll be up after finals. I wish for school to be over. A-SAP. XD

Anonymous said...

...choosing battles. 8) mag-aaral tayo pano maging ninja. 8)

SPLICE said...

Thanks, but I'm not looking forward to a hangover any time soon. Just enough alcohol [i.e. 2 to 3 beers] to calm my mind will do :)

@Kapitan Anonymous
Ibig sabihin ang role mo naman ngayon ay ninja master? hahaha :))

Anonymous said...

sabi ko nga mag-aaral tayo e, edi di pa master.haha. 8)

plaridel said...

just keep on plugging, man. you've got the gift. have you read oryx and crake by margaret atwood? it's right in your alley. it's something you could have written yourself.

Midnight Orgasm said...

Remember, they are also human beings like you. Do not treat them as your gods, even figuratively. They are not to be worshiped, they are not to be looked up to. Doing otherwise is simply and underestimation of your own capabilities as a writer or as someone who writes for that matter.

Believe in yourself for it all starts there. The published people do not pull the trigger for you. It is your own craft that brings magic to your fantasy, metaphors to your composition, wit to your work.

It is not true that you do not have a reader. Counting me may not be enough, but there is more to life than readership. It is your writing itself that do wonders, not the numbers you can easily brag about.

Just keep on writing and I will keep on reading. Have a nice day.

$corpio $pirit said...

Hey, Splice. I also write like you do. And for me, it doesn't matter if someone reads them or not. With the thoughts and my pen on paper, I got the deity and deitess in my hands. :) Well, what I'm trying to say is, it's already one piece of art when you write something. Cheers!!! It's good to be reading each other's articles.

SPLICE said...

@$corpio $pirit
Hi! Thanks for reading my ramblings. It feels strange each time I read back what I wrote in the past. I can't help it: I always end up arguing against myself :)