Let Me Go Chopsuey on You

Chopsuey or Chop Seuy (n.) : a quick Filipino-style stir fry of vegetables and meat in thickened sauce.

In my context, as what I learned from Isabel Garcia, I’ll Chopsuey (notice, it’s a verb) my way into writing this post. Meaning, I’ll toss around different kinds of updates and ideas and whatnot since I can’t, for the life of me, make a coherent narration of what’s happening in my life as of late before I went dormant. There are a lot of things I wanted to write about but obviously, I have not sat down on it. I think, it’s gonna explode in my mind and be gone forever without shedding its light onto the pages of this little space I call mine. To prevent that from happening, I needed to take action. And just write it down. And. I’m. Gonna. Write. It. Down. Right. Now.

***

What happened to my writing adventure which is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)?

The reason why I was not writing much in the blog for a few weeks back in November was because I was nose deep in writing my very first novel and hoping to finish it (writers should’ve bled 50 thousand words in the month of November for their novel) as the pre-requisite to win the challenge.

Here’s my final output, I stopped writing around third week #sadface:

My unfinished novel in November.

My unfinished novel back in November.

Yes, I didn’t get the bragging rights of finishing a novel within a month. Sucks! I’m forty thousand way behind the target that time. From this photo, it kind of looked like I failed. Well, I really did fail. Ha! Not because I wasn’t able to reach the target but because I stopped right in the middle of I know I can still write something but there are just too many things I have to do right now moments that turned into Okay, instead of doing so many things, I think I should just let myself rest for a while, I wouldn’t able to finish the novel in time, anyway. In short, I gave up. I let my novel rest itself for the last two weeks of the challenge. I don’t want to admit that I lost and failed what I had imposed upon myself on… but, lost and failure happened, so here we are.

From the start of it all, I was really positive. I felt alive. Writing a novel is something new for me; I’m not a fiction writer, so it became a good challenge for my brave. I was at the edge of my brain cells trying to hold it all together to give birth to a story. It was only a night before the challenge proper that I finally got a story in mind. It was a wonderful feeling, it’s like you got this freedom to stitch in stories of characters you want to exist on a page, on a certain lifetime, facing their own adversity and hoping that they too, will win it. It was glorious watching them unfold like a beautiful dance number in the middle of a boring school program. It was fun. Writing fiction was fun but twice harder since you are bringing something into life with your words. It’s like you’re creating your own world with your breath.

My novel Life and Its Whatnots (yes, the book title is my blog domain title haha) has a special place in my heart that although I took a break from it – I was down five Chapters (I never thought I could write Chapters for a novel) when I stopped – I shall pursue and finish it in the first quarter of 2014. Hihi :) Time to continue the adventure! I’ll let you know what kind of novel I wrote, in time.

However, unlike legit writers, I’m still going to write my novel like the way I did for NaNoWriMo — spontaneous. It’s a spontaneous novel which I bet will also surprise me in the end. Here’s to labor pains because I’m gonna give birth to a novel, my novel, #SOON.

***
You don’t call your work, “work.”

I am learning a lot of things from work. There are too many inspiring people and advocacy all around me that I can’t help but to thank God for every opportunity He’s giving me to dive into this spiral of Awesomeness. I love it. He knows the perfect timing and the perfect venue to show a stubborn kid like me that He is God and that His plans are always always perfect! I can and will elaborate on this matter next time ;)

My boss let me accompany him to our seminar with my home court, I mean my alma mater (PUP), last week. I was encouraged when he said this towards the end of the workshop:

If you’ll call your work, “work,” then its really gonna be work. You’ve got to love what you do: do your passion, know your purpose and plan your way to get wherever that passion and purpose is. You don’t get successful overnight, success is a journey.

He knows the virtue of walking your way to success. And yes, it don’t happen in a blink of an eye.

***

Sorry, Khay. (this deserves another post)

My best friend, Khay, got this tampo at me — and a major tampo at that. I was just busy lately and I hope you know that I love love love you, my dear. And nothing will ever change that. I’m sorry if I’m a pain in the neck, sometimes. Or, most times. I’ll make it up to you. I don’t promise not to hurt you, because that’s my nature even when I don’t intend to. I’ll see you soon.

***

Nine days til Christmas!

Let’s spend this few days of 2013 worthwhile! Tis the season to be jolly! Fill your heart with love and learn to give all that love away. Cheers, everyone!

***

You shouldn’t miss Frozen!!!

Because Love is something worth melting for..

If you haven’t watch this movie, do yourself a favor and go to theaters near you! I promise, you’ll love Olaf and Kristoff and Anna and Sven and Elsa and everyone! :) this movie is just an ultimate feel-good movie! It caps on the top 5 of my favorite animated movies of all time!!!

Hungry to be Better

If there’s one thing that I would really want to be good at, but unfortunately I’m not that capable of yet (haha because I still hope I will be, one day), is to be a person with an overflow of creativity – thoughts and actions. I wanted to belong to the We are the Creative People Department in this lifetime, those people who breathe the arts: designers, painters, composers, writers, teachers, film enthusiasts, social workers, etc. I wanted to imbibe the word “creative” so much because I believe it means that you are placed in this earth with a sole purpose: to Create. And that is such a very wonderful privilege.

I know I have the skill with the kind of art I wanted to be involved in – I can draw; I can paint; I can write poems, poetry, essays and lyrics to songs. I can do all these things. What I can’t do, most times, is to imagine my own art.

I can draw and paint anything just as long as I have a picture where I can copy it from. But if I don’t have any visuals, my drawings or paintings will always end up abstract. Writing, on the other, is something I pursued because I felt the need of having to deliver it in my life. When I was in College, that’s when I made up my mind and told myself: Yes, I want to write. I want to be heard. I want my words to be a hand and reach out to someone’s soul (even, just one soul). I want to make this choice.

I tried my hardest writing. I literally jump off the cliff of not knowing where to start, what to say and how to say things. But over time, I learned. Writing became a friend who confides with every single doubt, worry, hope and freedom that bugs my mind on days when I forgot that I can make a difference. Writing was there, through and through. Most – if not all – things that I write, though, are stories that I experienced with real people in real situations in my very own life. I can make those into poems, lyrics of a song, essay or just plain prose. I am a non-fiction writer – the only things I can write down is my own: how I felt touching every rough crater of this world with my own hands.

Those were the best arts I can offer: abstract and experiences. Both are messy, but I believe, both of them are all sorts of beautiful. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how far my Creative go.

November is just around the corner, and when this month comes, expect the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) season again! And that means, anyone who will participate in it will be writing and finishing a novel by the end of November. And by novel, they mean fiction. Everyone is invited to make their own stories and just keep bleeding words into that novel: keep writing. And while this seems a huge challenge for me because (1) I don’t do fictions; (2) I don’t have a planned story yet and I only got less than three days left to conceptualize; and (3) we only got one month to finish… I think this will be a good way to stretch my mind and learn, ergo, I decided to…. *drumroll* …participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo!

I may have not been given an overflow of imagination to make hundreds of novels, but, I know in my heart that I had been blessed with persistence and boldness to venture out on new things that would make me feel alive.

I want to be a good writer one day. I am so hungry to be better. (Hannah Brencher)

And I am making this choice. Again.

 

I Forgot to Write

I forgot the simplest things in life that made me start whatever you see in these blank pages of cyber space named under a corner I considered mine…

I forgot the essence of bleeding my own story and crafting it in such a way that would inspire me (or others ((hoping))) to walk along the dark hallways of this not-so-much-focused-on-happy-endings kind of life…

I forgot to accommodate Mr. Time when he sincerely wanted to collaborate with Words that kept bogging my mind…

I forgot to see. I forgot to hear. I forgot to feel. I think I had lost my senses when all I wanted to do two years back was to seek, listen and observe the universe, taste every rough crater and watch how it spark intense meteor showers in this world, in my world – the vast ocean of falling stars.

I forgot my purpose here.

I forgot to thirst for the things that would matter here; the things I placed my bets in starting Day One, the things that once made me decide what would / what could I be, the things I considered of prime principle. I forgot them.

I forgot to be inspired. I forgot to inspire. I forgot to write.

I forgot to write for someone who I always wanted to write about. I forgot to write for myself. I started to notice people and I started to want people to notice me back (which hardly happen). And I know that that’s where it hits – I wasn’t able to get back on my feet – the damage I made to my Muse.

Why do we keep on wanting something we think we want that we forget that all the things we need are already right there in front of us?

I created this blog as a space for me to vent out my whatevers in life. This is supposed to be something I enjoy doing for myself – that I don’t think of anybody else when I post what I had to say (whether it’s right or wrong or we differ in view) here. And I did. I really did enjoy.

Back then, my ears are spilling with courage telling me that expressing myself through an art form (aka Writing) could be a good way for me to find myself, to understand the depth of my being, to enrich a talent that I could use in bringing people to believe in a quiet whisper of hope.

And I don’t want to stop now just because I’m discouraged. I know that the Big Guy is always behind me to support the very desire of my heart which I can use for His glory.

I loved blogging. I loved that I dreamed of inspiring people through writing; giving words of assurance not only to myself, but to whoever lands on this page, that no matter how hard the waves of life could be, our boat will never sink as long as we are with our Captain. That no matter how discouraged we are now, we can still choose to see the light in the darkest of places; we can still be conquerors even we once feared to be in a battle; we can still go back to where we used to be, to what we used to do – even we sometimes forget, there is Hope telling us that we can still learn to remember.

Dark Mocha. Chocolate Cream Chip. Honey Glaze. And Chocolate-Dipped.

Lately, things had been so busy and schedules are tight and muscles felt tensions (and I just had to say that for the muscles, oh goodness, I am in need of a massage. haha!) and I am stressed out. That’s why I needed the break, mostly from blogging (see my post under this). And I am still on a pause – I hope to come back soon, though – but yesternight when Me and my friend Mari met, we did some exercise which kind of laid our stresses off, at least for that night; and that I wanted to share today. :)

One of the many things that I am thankful for in this life are my friends. I don’t have a lot. I do not belong to the hierarchy of popular people when I was still in school. Never. And I know, I wish I would, but I’m content because the Lord had guided me to choose the right friends and circles to which I can grow and belong and be more of myself and exceed myself and just have fun. And my friend Mari is one of those close friends which I am bound to keep forever. Haha!

Anyways, we already set the date for us to go at a coffee shop to feel some sort of a writer’s ambiance, and yesterday we did exactly just that. Some sort of trivia re my friends: they are good (read: VERY GOOD) writers. They wrote essays and poems and short stories and novels and I really believe that they would be a successful authors of a book someday. I, on the other, am a simple “everyday life” writer. I mean, this blog is like a journal, right? I tend to write things that I experience and is interesting to me and from there, I can push an idea or inspiration for my essays or poems. But, I don’t really write stories. I don’t do fiction. It’s just so hard for me.

So, guess what we did at the coffee shop?

Bingo! We did fiction-writing. It was Mari’s idea. She said that we would do a collaboration for a story (and you must understand, she was torturing me the WHOLE time, wala siyang awa!!!) and short story we did.

We started writing at around 8.30ish and finished an hour or so later. I was already in the mood of continuing on the “writing” part but we had to end the story or else we will sleep at the mall. Ha!

And now, *drum roll* I’ll let you read the short story that Mari and I had collaborated on! Haha! Be gentle on it, okay? We only wrote this for an hour and it is my first time to go about fiction-writing. The whole experience, though, was fun. I got some learning points from it.

I (we) hope you enjoy it!

******

Red.

Continue reading

On going about life and echoing the ripple on a skipping stone…

Donald Miller: The Five Steps to Writing a Book

I’ve read many books about writing. My favorites are William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. All terrific books.

I thought, then, I’d share my five step plan for writing a book. Those books are great, but this is the real truth.

Take it as you will, but this is largely how the process goes.

Photocredit: storylineblog.com

1. Come up with an amazing idea. Know in your head this book will be a blazing bestseller and change the world. Annoy your friends by always talking about it. When they get too annoyed, mumble under your breath in casual conversation about how your book is going to answer that question or some such thing. Keep this up for about a year before you actually start writing. It’s important.

2. About once a month, sit down to work on the book. Go to a coffee shop and set up your computer on the table by the window. Look out the window for inspiration and notice how many cyclists run the stop sign outside the coffee shop. Think for a long time about how hard it is to actually stop a bike and then restart it and how long it would take to get across town if you actually stopped at every stop sign. Google how much you’d be fined if you get caught. Leave the coffee shop without having written. Blame it on the pastry that gave you a sugar crash. Promise yourself the next time you have a writing session you won’t eat a pastry.

3. Search the internet for images you might use for a cover. Look at other books on Amazon and study their covers. Print one of the covers and cross the authors name out to write yours. Use liquid paper if you can still find any. Sniff the liquid paper and wish they hadn’t started putting the chemical in it that makes it smell bad. Wipe the liquid paper off your nose with the napkin they gave you with another pastry. Blame the fact you didn’t get writing done on another sugar crash and the fact you sniffed liquid paper.

4. Rent a cabin. Get very serious about the book. It’s time. Pay good, hard earned money and hole yourself up in the woods to write the book. Bring with you a copy of Walden. Then, obsess about who is and isn’t following you on Twitter for half the first day. Get angry at yourself for being distracted and throw your phone into the woods as a sacrifice to your craft. Go to bed promising the next day you’ll really write.

5. Spend the next morning rummaging around the woods looking for your phone.When you find it and it doesn’t work, go back into the cabin and lay on the kitchen floor, preferably a cold, tiled kitchen floor. Look upward at the oven and lament the fate of Sylvia Plath. Wish, though, you could have a book published like she did before she took her life. Wonder to yourself how happy she must have been having had a book published, so happy she took her life. Pack up your stuff and head home, having written nothing.

If you repeat these steps for about eighteen months, you should get a book out of it. I’ve done it many times and it always works. I don’t know when the writing happens. I can’t remember that part. But a book comes.

Of course, the point is writing is hard. To write is to struggle with your sanity, at times. And there will be bad days and you will feel defeated. This work is more difficult than climbing a mountain because you are doing it in the dark. I want to urge you to keep going. You matter and your words matter.

Photocredit: storylineblog.com

By writing, you are saying to God I agree with you, you gave me a voice and the gift was not in vain. By writing, you are showing up on the stage of life rather than sitting in the comfortable theater seats (there is a time for both) and are casting your voice out toward an audience who is looking for a character to identify with, somebody to guide them through their own loneliness, no matter how transparent or hidden that loneliness is.

Photocredit: storylineblog.com

And so if you find yourself on the floor of the kitchen (and I am no longer joking. I mean that in the Plathian sense, if you are finding yourself despondent) please know you are not alone. So many writers have been there. And the ones whose voices continue to echo through the theater got up, went back to their desk, and prayed again for words. May they come to you. And may they be gifts to us.

GRABBED: storylineblog.com

May the words come to us (me) again! Let’s not stop. Let’s write. :)

The Day I Met Sarah Kay and Why the Scarecrow Got Invited to TED

During latter years in College, the love for words and poetry grown in me quite dramatically. It was, in my graduating year, that I’ve ventured on writing poems, particularly about admiration, fascination, hurt, pain, but above all, love. I never ever thought that I could possibly render a part of me – my heart, and then, my soul – on to writing. I never expected myself to find joy in that. Although I only have poems that you can count by your fingertips and you could notice how shallow, how girly and dreamy they are, I’ll still continue to write them if I need to until I can find another shades of greens or maroons or yellows and teals that could add another abstract of colors in my life.

Over the past few years, I have learned that writing is an art of the emotion. And it’s different too, with each and everyone of us – because of what we’ve gone through and what we’ve haven’t gone through. When I go about blogs after blogs after blogs, books after books after books, person after person after person and study how they are able to come up with a certain article, I always discover that each of them got different styles and that although they’re in the same topic, they would still all fall in the Distinct-From-Each-Other Department.

Writing is also similar to a kaleidoscope that transforms the many shapes and colors and sizes of where we fit in on what we call, life, into something more beautiful and entertaining and captivating. That although we think a candy wrapper or afternoon coffee or stuttering in front of someone altogether is not worthy of a poem, a short story or an essay, we’ll know that we’ve got it all wrong. Because in writing, life can’t be boring. You can always make sense of life when you actually got to write it. You figure out things, like, what does a candy wrapper really means when a candy was given by someone you deeply admire who bumped on you when you’re about to take your afternoon coffee in the pantry of the 39th floor of your office who, when you talk to, you all the more can’t help but stutter in every word you’re about to say.

And yes, writing is never meant for every audience in cyber space. I mean, some people dig what you say and some don’t mind at all. Don’t lose heart, though, because even when you think no one wanted to read you, there’ll be someone who always wanted to. When you didn’t write what you’re suppose to, you’ll lose these people who also hangs on strings of hope when you just keep doing what you do when you write. It’s like representing them – tapping them at the back when tides didn’t go the way it should; kissing their tears from their eyes after a broken heart; giving the biggest bear hug and telling them “It’s gonna be okay. You’re gonna be fine.” when they most specially need to. You cannot be there in person because maybe they’re from another part of the world but because of what you have written, they’ll know that they’re not alone. That Life is the same for everybody: unfair. It is, as much as it also bears the name Wonderful and Lovely.

And so, what is the connection of all that I’ve said to meeting Sarah Kay? I don’t know. Haha! I’m still trying to figure that out and let’s all see when I come to the end of my thoughts.

As I said, I read blogs – from friends to total strangers. Reading them became one of my mentors in how I attack or play with something I want to write. Isabel Garcia is one of those writer-blogger who I follow and I made sure that I’ve read her new posts everyday (also re-tracking what she had written all the way from when she was just starting). She is one talented writer. She is very open with all her cracks, broken pieces and all. She is open and when you do write, I think you have to be like that. Plus, one thing I like about her is I can quote her. For all the love I have for quoting people. :) She has these vast statements where you can go right ahead and quote it because you grasped it and felt it and connected with it. She’s ohhh-some like that.

One day when I was browsing her new post Love Will Be, I was drawn to the video she posted about this girl (Sarah Kay) and a boy (Phil Kaye) who are performing something-I-can’t-explain entitled When Love Arrives. They were good at it (read: SUPER good). I was tracing back where I have read the name of the girl at the video. I remember reading it somewhere Isabel’s blog, but anyway, I googled her and found some interesting things about her.

Sarah Kay is a spoken word poet where she performs poems that she had written to entertain, educate or simply inspire (I wonder if I can do that to my poems too). Phil Kaye is someone who she encountered in College and who is sharing the same art of spoken word poetry as hers. As I’m doing my research on her, I found out that she also had an opportunity to showcase her two cents worth on TED Talks.

After watching this, I was determined on searching for her other performances of spoken word poetry! And I did. I watched a lot more of her performances and there were a few I kept on my iPod (Worst Poetry, An Origin Story, Jellyfish, Toothbrush to a Bicycle Tire – and yes – When Love Arrives and her TED Talks talk).

She’s writing poems and performing them in a way where she can be the best when she’s the one doing it. It’s about her pursuance of what she loves and is passionate about. It’s about going to life open-handed even when everything around you just blows out of proportions. Sarah Kay is so inspiring in so many ways I don’t even know where to begin praising. And it’s true what she said about the scarecrow being invited to TED, because she’s out-standing in her field. (read: Sarah Kay’s mastery of spoken word poetry)

There will be times that you got to follow your dreams even if the current takes you to the opposite side of the sea. It might be scary and you might think that you can’t do it, like Sarah. But she took her first step, she said I can. And you know, we can too. And yes, I say I can to writing because I realized this has been my dream – to shed bliss and inspiration to people through art form. And I think spoken word poetry would be another dream to chase like a kite running free in a windy day of May. I wonder if I could, like the way I did in writing, find it within myself and do it. :)

From The Get-Go

When I was young, I always loved the outdoors. I loved biking and I wished I had my own wheels (never happened though). I loved playing with my friends and cousins – we played dodgeball or matamaan ng bola, taya!; then, there’s also softball; agawang base; patintero; luksong baka; tumbang preso; ten-twenty or Chinese garter; bang-sak; sili, sili, maanghang; and the most famous of them all, langit, lupa, impyerno! and many more. I enjoyed all the sweat and how the sun kissed my skin. And then, high school came in and I toned down from the streets. I became much of a home-buddy; a couch potato, mostly.

College came in few years after. And I was just stunned by the people I’m surrounded with – they’re like making me realize that I’m in heck yeah! College of Communication! They’re like a bunch of bookworms and writers! If there’s one word to describe reading and writing to me, that is: E-F-F-O-R-T. It is such an EFFORT, dear friends.

Nonetheless, it was those people from my beloved academe that showed me how fun it is to read and to write. There’s something different about it, something different which you can only know once you engage in at it. And so, I tried. I tried my very best because I envied them. Haha! That shouldn’t be the term, but yeah, sorta-kinda-hafta envied them.

Today, while I’m getting more used to do writing – thanks to this blog – I am doubling my efforts when it comes to books and reading.

So far, in the entire twenty years of my life, I only have read 18 books (if I remembered them all right). And I bet, I wasn’t able to reach half of those books my college peeps have already read. The books I have read are as follows:

1. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
2. Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
3. For One More Day by Mitch Albom
4. Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
5. Emily Ever After by I forgot who
6. Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisenberger
7. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
8. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
9. Maverick by Diana Palmer
10. Before the Flabbergasted book to which I forgot the title and author (hello Mari, help here please) :P
11. Size Twelve Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
12. I forgot the title but I remember there’s a super big dog involved in the story by Meg Cabot
13. Title forgotten – all I remember there’s a wedding and there’s an involvement of the best man and maid of honor best friends in the story by Sophie Kinsella
14. The Summer of Cotton Candy by Debbie Viguié
15. Everything On A Waffle by Polly Harvath
16. Kapitan Sino by Bob Ong
17. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
18. Looking For Alaska by John Green

From these 18 books: 8 of them was borrowed from friends; 6 of them I own (bought either first or secondhand) in paperback; 3 of them I read courtesy of PowerBooks; and the other 1 is included in my iBooks.

I have yet to read:
Paperback-I-own Category
1. Fair Play by Deirdre Martin
2. Marley and Me by John Grogan
3. Maynard and Jennica by Rudolph Delson
4. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
5. Prep by Curtis Sittenfield
6. Dark Storm by Kel Richards
7. The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos

iBooks Category
8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
9. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
10. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
11. Beastly by Alex Flinn

Yet-to-buy Category
12. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
13. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
14. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
15. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky
16. Divergent by Veronica Roth
17. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
18. Elixir by Hilary Duff (yes! She wrote a book!)
19. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
20. Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

I think this would be a good start for doubling the effort in reading. Haha! :P I mean, it’s not at all bad. Stories read from books can speak to you in so many ways and bring you to so many places and there will be so many people you’ll meet along the way. It’s liberating. It’s being vulnerable to feelings you haven’t felt before – extreme anger, endless pain or unimaginable love. It’s about being you. A more sensitive you.

Find. Grab. Read. Write. Be mesmerized: read and find something to write from there. :D

NOTE: Posted this mostly for my own benefit! Haha!