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Voices, and a foray into Filipino Fridays

First things first: the ever wonderful Rose Lemberg has posted their thoughts on reading, writing and submitting in response to my previous entry. It’s so lovely and always illuminating listening to Rose speak about this — they founded Stone Telling, which was the first venue I felt able to submit to, the first place I ever sold anything to, and when they say don’t lose faith I can only say: yes, yes, thank you so much.

Rose also tweeted a powerful series of truths last night, on diversity, power, and language; their tweets are compiled into a Storify, and I very much recommend reading it, what they say is so so important. We must make room for multitudes. Infinities of stories. And voices, voices.

As I’ve begun submitting, taking my first few steps into this field and trying to become part of the community, I’ve never ceased to be surprised: many things have happened that have disappointed and disheartened me, that have made me afraid — but there’s so much brightness, too, such beautiful voices of great strength and wisdom and depth; there’s generosity and encouragement and kindness and people who have reached out to me to say, we’re glad to hear you and help me up whenever I stumble (as I so often do) into discouragement and doubt. I have a beloved friend who speaks often about nurturing young writers, and I’m beginning to see why that is so vital; without these warm, encouraging, kind people, I perhaps would not be trying so hard to write — pushing myself raw past limits of self-questioning and self-rejection — and perhaps I would be silent.

It is a struggle to find one’s voice; one must fight so hard for it, against all the pressures toward silence and easy untruths. It is also a struggle to keep using one’s voice, to keep speaking. To hold fast to it. I’m at the very start of this long journey, and I look at what those who have gone before me have done, continue to do, as they raise their voices — and I cannot but marvel, cannot but be humbled, at the vastness and the power of all these songs.

Although I am no longer in Pilipinas, I find myself doing whatever I can to keep connected to what’s going on there. (I am trying not to see this as “M fantasizing about being back in the motherland” because that just sounds terribly sad, even though it may be at least a little true.) I can’t do politics, but I want to read more Filipino books, learn more about the book+reading community back home. I want to learn more, reach out more — because I write for myself first, but for my kapatid, my kababayan, my kasama second.

So, I’m going to start doing Filipino Fridays, this book-blogging meme/prompt that Filipino ReaderCon, a con held in Manila for readers by readers (it’s happening soon; how I wish I could go!) started this month. For the second week, the prompt is: “Have you ever wanted to write a book?”

As a reader, have you ever thought about writing a book? What kind of books/stories do you want to write? Or are you now a published author, and what compelled you to go fulfil this dream? How was your journey from reader to writer? How did you go about getting your book out there?

Oh my goodness. The short answer is: yes! I’ve been thinking about writing books since I was five. Fast-forward twenty-three years and that still has not happened, but I do believe I’m closer to it now than I have ever been, mostly because (wonder of wonders) I am still writing. And as long as one keeps to the words, that is continuance on the journey right there.

I have always been a reader of fantasy and poetry. I got started on poetry at the age of four; my mother bought this gorgeously illustrated book of poetry for children, and many of the poems were pretty fantastic (my favorites: The Tyger, a condensed version of The Lady of Shallot, How Doth the Little Crocodile, and of course, JABBERWOCKY!!!) — they stayed with me. So definitely if I were to write/publish a book I would want it to either be a collection of my poetry or a fantasy novel.

I have an in-progress fantasy, this bamboopunk Philippine AU thing I love dearly, which I return to from time to time — every month or so I’ll poke at it, see if it twitches. It’s still gestating — I don’t think it’s time for me to finish it just yet, I need to do so much work on my writing and desperately need to learn things like Actual Plot — but I don’t mind. I’ll be patient. And I still struggle with this idea that I’m not good enough to publish; I think I’ll struggle with that for a long time to come. But I’m learning: just write, dammit. Don’t worry about whether you’re an artist or a writer or whatever. Just keep doing the work. Eyes on the work.

I’m not sure if I count as a published author. Which is a little funny, really, because I shouldn’t doubt that 1) I have written something; and 2) it has been published. It’s just not anything as substantial as an entire book. As of now I have one published piece, a little poem: Seeds, up at Strange Horizons. (SH is one of my dream markets, so I am incredibly happy to be there!) I have a few more pieces that have been accepted to publications, so you know, my happiness, it abounds! Part of me still thinks– pinch me, I must be dreaming. Yet even as I say this, I’m already thinking of the other pieces I have in the works, that I want to send out into the world. The funny thing is, having my words read hasn’t at all blunted my desire to write more, tell more stories. It’s only intensified it.

As for my journey, such as it is, I wrote about it on my previous entry: The first leap.

Anyway, one of these days I will actually finish something book-length, and then I will go through the process of searching for an agent and a publisher, revising and revising and revising, hammering words into place, finding a way to get the work out there. I don’t know if there will be any success in that, honestly. But at the same time I’m not going to be too fussed about it. Eyes on the work. Just keep writing. And that takes more than enough of my energy, my focus, my blood.

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