Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Shifting perspectives

It took me a while to realize this, but what has really held me back in my writing career is that I focused more on being liked--by my teachers, my mentors, my bosses, the general reading public--than on sharing my talent by using it to spread the truth.

And so I trapped myself with drama, freezing any progress whatsoever I could have made early on, when UP accepted me as part of the Creative Writing program; when I graduated with my CW degree; when I won 2nd place in the Palanca Awards for my teleplay (now a defunct category, by the way) many years ago, when I worked for a major network's dot com; when I worked for major broadsheet; when I had a stint as a marketing writer that taught me so much more about writing in 6 months than I learned under my direct superior in that major broadsheet in three years; when I started pursuing my MFA in CW in DLSU; when I had supportive teachers like Doc Bau; when I heard of so many contests, workshops, open submissions, et cetera, et cetera.

All the opportunities I allowed to pass me by because of my drama: I told myself I wasn't ready. That I'm not yet as good as I want to be (and considered this with pride, even, successfully convincing myself that since I knew I could be better, it said something of my good taste). That I wasn't even sure I was supposed to be writing.

It's all crap to me now, I have to admit with much embarrassment. I had no idea I was pretentious about my gift. I knew I could write the minute I set my pen on paper in grade school, that very second I submitted that first winning essay, I felt it in my heart that writing was something I could do for a lifetime. And I do know this without question.

Last weekend, for LEAP's 2nd intensive, it became clear to me that I have been holding back on my thesis, despite it still having the ability to excite me with its ambition, because I wanted the perfect little story in my trademark contemporary and occasionally lyrical and playful and blah blah blah writing style. I wanted the perfect opening lines. The perfect characters. The perfect titles. I wanted it to blow everyone away. And this all seemed so daunting.

But right now, looking at it from a renewed perspective, it just hits me: Write the truth you see. Share your gift. It's as simple as that. All the rest is background noise. And crap you tell yourself.

Really.