Friday, May 19, 2006


LAST THURSDAY, in the Classics Section of Fully Booked, which aligns the east wall of their Gateway branch, behind the Fiction Section, familiar names like Dickens, Hemmingway, Nabokov, Tolstoy, and Faulkner sit confidently—their names not needing the attention from a front aisle, their literary greatness confirmed by general neglect. The names don’t care. They will endure.

But then the silence is interfered.

Lost was highly rated last year. But Arrested Development was rated higher by the critics.”

The greats are used to this; pop culture references being spoken of in their presence.

The one with all the US television statistics sported a crew-cut. He was dressed in oversized jeans, an oversized faded black polo shirt, and black-framed eyeglasses. He was slightly overweight. They both are.

His friend was clad in all shades of khaki. He was wearing a small t-shirt and cargos rolled up midway up the shin with an ethnic green design over each pocket. His hair was a little longer and greased up with extra-shiny product.

The two guys hovered around the classics. They looked at the familiar titles, took out the books that they’ve heard about in movies (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Breakfast at Tiffany’s). They spoke as if they’ve actually read some of these books. A pessimist would think otherwise.

They complained about how they wished they had more time to read. “Pagkatapos ng NBA sa umaga, sarap lang talaga magbasa, dude.”

“Ya. I haven’t been writing as much anymore, either. Too many distractions.”

“It’s all about work now, pare.”

They were apparently writers trapped in the yuppie world. A girl in checkered capris and a baby t-shirt, who was browsing nearby, walked away, perhaps annoyed by their accented Taglish.

The guys conversed about their writer-friend. He doesn’t write anymore, either. When he does have time, he just reads; the word-processor remains turned-off.

“At least he’s reading.”

“Oo nga.”

The guy in khaki made reference to a detective story he hasn’t touched in a while. “Ang gulo sa bahay e.”

At siyempre kailangan mag-internalize while writing.” The khaki-clad guy laughed but agreed with his friend’s interjection. “It’s bullshit but it’s necessary, diba? But there’s so many things to do at work.”


They went on to discuss storylines they’ve been playing around with. (A comedy written chronologically backwards?) Each idea was accompanied by an obligation that would deter them from pursuing the actual writing.

There in the middle of the Classics Section of Fully Booked, Gateway, young adult whining disguised a rant among frustrated writers. Some say writing can be cathartic. For these two, verbal griping was far more convenient.

I stood nearby the whole time, by the Non-Fiction Section to their right, pretending to read a book of published New Yorker articles about dance. Inspired by Tom Wolfe and taking my limited Creative Non-Fiction training to heart, I took mental notes, took more notes on my cell, which were all eventually transferred to a small notepad I carry with me in my back pocket.

As the two guys continued with their melodrama, I suppressed laughter, I listened on condescendingly. And as I walked out of the bookstore, realization hit: I’m just like them. My fellow Creative Writing students share in their frustration. All writers do. However realistic and “real-world” our words may be, just us choosing to write is as if we’re living in another world.

While many of our peers take up management courses in our campus’ newer buildings, with the hopes of making a lot of money when they graduate, we reside in converted classrooms that were once science laboratories in the seventies. We as Creative Writing students are met with skepticism from other students who assume that ours is a course on stylized penmanship. The extended classifieds of the Sunday paper tell us that if we’re not registered nurses, there will be plenty of call-centers waiting for us.

Coming from a corporate family living in this capitalistic world, and being apart of the small School of Humanities, I’ve grown accustomed to conventional skepticism. Because of that, I, along with the few that remain stubborn enough to take on the role of writer, have become more certain of what we want to do.

I graduate in two years. I honestly doubt that I’ll be happy with my job options. Reality tells me that I’ll likely end up like those two young guys in Fully Booked last Thursday. I already share in their frustration. But I’ll write on.

So here’s to those who choose the difficult path of the writer. Let our words entertain, and most especially, provoke thought amongst our richer peers. And in all our potential financial debt, let our words be read over and over again.

Fri 19 May 06


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