It is International Human Rights Day as I sit down to write away this text that will supposedly tell you, guys, a little about me. About me, hah! Does anyone really bother? Does anyone really care who I am or what I’ve been through or what I intend to do for the next week, next month, next year, next five (5) years or next ten(10) years? Hah, just posing the irritating question and trying to be confusing at the same time. You see, I can’t help but stand up for the reason for being of this blog – cynicism.
It’s a little old and tired word, really. It had its time very much like such words as superpowers, negativity, transition and the likes. Cynicism has been adopted, propagated, popularized and used up, sadly, just like everything else that could be put up on the counter, sold and then consigned to the corner, awaiting the time when it would be cool to reuse and to recycle. Am afraid it’s no longer fashionable to be cynical and that is why am putting it on hold.
Three years ago, as I was being interviewed in ad agencies, as copywriter or as researcher, I noticed that the bywords in that part of the world were a mixed lot. Push! (a rather old one, if you ask me), 360 degrees (didn’t know till then that Trigonometry could be all that invasive, haha) and the last one is a sentence – There are no stupid questions (only stupid responses?).
I was unnerved and impressed at the same time. I mean, where could those people be getting their positive energy, their zest for life, their happy projections for the future? Could they be taking different sets of vitamins? Could there be a special well where they draw revitalizing water from?
Regretfully, I never found out as I was not chosen for any of the posts. But I was shortlisted in most of them and for a good while, I was breathing the air of pride from having hobnobbed with the artsy-fartsy set – those who invade our living-rooms (via the tv sets), our view of the highways (via those giant billboards) and our peace and quiet (via our near and dear gadgets). Those gifted and artistic souls, bless them, why did they not take me in?
So, other than to tell you that I have artistic inclinations (hey, the word is inclinations, not endowments) let me also enlighten you to the fact that I am female (at least, biologically), Filipina, a college graduate and wonderfully single when I should have been fetching a kid of my my own from the grade five gate, had I chosen to take that track. Here, I will not argue for the cause of single-blessedness as I have heard that so many have tried but very few have succeeded. Also, I suspect that my hormones are not tuned in anymore to the demands of causes or advocacies, be they worthy or not.
Suffice it to say that I write for a living. That is, what would pass up for a living. That’s hard to tell these days, actually. With a little borrowing from siblings, a little scraping here and there and some attitude that one day I’m going to get things right, I do manage somehow. I mean, writing and in the Philippines at that, has its upsides and downsides.
One of the upsides is you get to do research. And boy, research could be fun sometimes, despite the long hours and the stiff neck you get afterwards. Another is, you get to use the vocabularies you have accumulated over the years. Also, you get to impress people for a good two to five minutes, especially those who are Google-dependent. Hey, that’s about the length of time it takes to view or to listen to a YouTube entry. These days, you can’t ask for more.
The downsides are aplenty and I suppose you are familiar. For one, there isn’t much money. If ever there were, they’re not going your way. For another, there’s no security of tenure. A writer is hired on a per project/per campaign/per demand basis. You could, of course, enlist yourself in certain politicians’ payrolls but the most you’ll get in any of them is a co-terminus post. But that’s okay. The position usually pays for the groceries and the fancy coffees you drink while waiting.
Waiting – that’s another downside of the trade. It’s a regular feature in this field. You wait around a lot – for the board meeting that will say yes to the proposal and the funding, for the stamp of approval of whatever public or private body that has seen fit to commission the writing and for the nod of the boss – the one who is connected to the important bodies or institutions. Guys, you get the pic? By the way, you also wait for the documents or information needed for the write-up and for people who happen to be in possession of those important materials.
The plight of the writer has been dramatized in Amy Tan’s work, The Joy Luck Club. In the opening scene of the novel, the lead character was meeting with her cousins who are all better off than her, economically and socially. I do not exactly remember how the novel ended but that fiction is deemed by many as autobiographical. What I know is Amy Tan became famous on the strength of that work and the novel was made into a movie – a very good one, too.
Virginia Woolf said that what made writing easy for her was her inheritance. That, and a room of one’s own. I have had a room of my own for the last 15 years and both parents are gone now, but no inheritance has fallen my way. Am wondering if Virginia’s recommendation is technically a hard and fast rule.
I would have liked to end on an affirmative note and say that life has been good and I have been fair. Alas, no such luck, just yet. Am still waiting. Still holding it in, so to speak. All I can say is it has been an interesting, trying and challenging ride (that’s an understatement). Twice, I have tried to get off and make time for either staring at the ceiling endlessly or smelling the flowers. As with my many and conflicting undertakings, I have failed there just as miserably. And oh, the flowering plants in our yard could really use some tending.
From what I heard, blogging does not make any promises. But here, neither am I making any. I will write away my experiences, my viewpoints and my opinions. If anybody will consider it worth his while to revisit or come back for a second helping, I would gladly oblige. I am actually capable of being nice sometimes. Also, in real terms, there are a couple of brave hearts who dared to make me their friend for life.
To be able to write down one’s thoughts without worrying what would the boss, the funder, the client, the expectant public would say, without having to worry whether you’re gonna get paid or not and with no deadlines to beat – that is the ultimate writer’s dream. I bet you’ve heard of that. And when one comes to think of it, it’s a little higher than the basic human rights. I guess nowadays, it’s classified under perks. In the old days, it was called privilege.