Friday, June 02, 2006

Baptism of a writer

I FEEL LEGITIMIZED as a writer now. One of Pope’s (my cousin) officemates had some questions about my piece in Youngblood. It’s my first reader reaction. Nabinyagan na ako!

Following the publication of “A vision of Utopia” (see previous entry), all I’ve been receiving was congratulations and no feedback. It’s not that I’m against people congratulating me, but I was irked by how the achievement of being published seemed greater than the achievement of the actual piece (in terms of its message). “Martin getting published” overshadowed “Martin made good points in that piece.” I’m not even looking for readers to agree with me; I just want them to have actually been provoked in some way by what I wrote.

Don’t get me wrong, this was my first nationally published article and I am happy because of that. But a by-line is not the main reason why I write. There’s more to this game for me.

But I kept quiet. I allowed my parents to boast of me (my success seemingly their only source of shared joy these days). I played the game, bit my tongue, said my thank-you’s, avoiding the “let us be proud of you” sermon. I even received a text from a certain Ms. Trinidad because of the article, which was a pleasant surprise considering she and I haven’t spoken in months. But the whole time, while allowing others to do the “happy dance for me,” I yearned for affirmation—any sign of an actual reaction towards what was said in the piece.

I was looking for a sign of true achievement.

Then came Pope’s colleague, whom he described as a forty-year-old Ateneo alum. She’s my first critic of sorts, despite the inadequacies of her response.

She proposed that the criticism given to today’s middle-class youth was the same criticism met by her generation when they were still in college. She questions what our generation is doing about it. Apparently, in her eyes, this is where my piece was lacking.

I invite this reader to reread the piece, for all the answers to her questions are in there and are, in fact, the very point of the piece. Comparing our generation to the previous was not the intent of the piece nor did I want it to be. The intent was to discuss the here and now. It’s a proactive plea for previous generations to understand us.

If my critic were to raise the point that her generation was the victim of the same criticism, then all the more that she and her peers should understand why a member of the current generation can react to such criticism. Just because our predecessors underwent the same criticism, it doesn’t mean the criticism towards the current is legitimized.

What are we doing in these times? the reader asks. It’s written in the piece, ma’am. The answers are there in black and white.

As I understood through my cousin’s relating to me, the questions asked (whose answers are already answered in the piece) appeared to shift the argument back to generational battles. That is exactly the opposite of what the intent of the piece was. The piece took criticism from the previous generations and responded to them fairly, concretely and respectfully. Then it speaks of generations working together to try a new solution to problems that have transcended generations. The piece proposed that we’ve never addressed the root of all our political problems which is our cultural behavior as individuals. To bring it back to generational comparison and debate is lowering the argument instead of raising it.

If the points in my piece were to be argued constructively and intellectually, this writer would like to suggest taking a crack at the “as we build a strong citizenship rooted in strong, morally-sound individuals for the future, how do we solve the immediate problems of today?” angle. That line of reasoning raises the argument provoked by my piece, and then true constructive dialogue can take place.

I invite my first critic to calm down and reread “A vision of Utopia” with an intellectually constructive mindset, and see it for what it is truly trying to say. Agreement is not my goal; understanding is.

There was concrete thought and sincere reflection behind those words published last Saturday. I write in no other way. Criticism is welcomed, but the critic better come equipped.

I think “A vision of Utopia” makes its points clearly. What should be discussed are those points, not whether they were made. This is not a cocky writer speaking, rather an insecure one looking for constructive ways to excel.

So to my first critic and those in my future, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Though my maiden voyage in receiving criticism from the public appeared to be rooted in skimming through words as opposed to focused reading, my piece’s mere provoking is appreciated and heartfelt for a writer like me who truly takes his pieces seriously.

To my first critic, nabinyagan na ako at ikaw po ang aking ninang.

Maraming salamat, Ninang mula sa iyong Inaanak, kapwang Atenista, kapwang burgis, kapwang Filipino.


Blogger hastydevil said...

We are the "me" generation: inward-looking and self-improving. "A vision of Utopia" is our defense to those who accuse us of apathy. Kudos for a well-written piece.

2:09 AM  

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