Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Link Credit

I like to think I’ve got it made as a writer. At least, that’s what my brain tells me. I think it has something to do with its internal wirings: A nerve perhaps? A capillary? Blood?

Anyway, although my brain functions in a self-worshiping thread of thought, there are times, in this chosen field of freelance writing, when an energy-depleting dejection creeps in when I least expect it like how an unexpected dreadful encounter with an ex-suitor whose guts you hate, and whose breath reminds you of spoiled rice (this description is coined from a friend of mine) slowly strips off your inner resolve to continue living without your being aware of it. And I am left with the notion that maybe I’m just wasting my time pursuing this career.

Rejections? Yes, I’ve had my share of them. Flawless writing? Well, I have to admit that I do commit mistakes especially when I read my piece for countless of times that my eyes would suddenly do its tricks on me.

(No, I don’t juggle balls with my eyeballs or devour flames with my corneas. Let’s leave those mindless tricks to those who wish to be featured in the latest news and be known for their antics.)

Easy work? Actually, I tend to over-write to allow for pruning later; and revising a piece takes a handful of crumpled drafts in the trash bin to make it seem effortless. But these are situations to be expected.

What I really want you to know is that dampening thoughts engulf me. Countless doubts - vehemently spoken (with an occasional unconscious sprinkle of saliva) or implied (through mono-syllabic incantations and freaky Mona Lisa smiles) - by those whom I thought supported my profession and believed in my capabilities, make me feel incompetent in my work.

A shattering realization of being a few steps behind the manner of lifestyle I crave most for myself and my family encumber all sense of reason to continue what I start, and test my strength to hang on to my dreams.

I’m not alone in this deluding doldrums as I had discovered in Studs Terkel’s book, WORKING. In it, real people from all walks of life divulge their innermost feelings about their professions.

Their words speak to me in a comforting blanket of familiarity.

“There were times when I felt I couldn’t take it anymore,” confesses Roberto Acuna, a farm worker. “It’s the tension you’re under while you’re sitting there working,” reveals Frances Swanson, a Hotel Switchboard Operator. “No matter what you do, sometimes things just don’t go right,” laments a dentist, Stephen Bartlett.

The book gave me a taste of reality, and allowed me to take a peek at the inner sentiments of others who walk a different career path.

I was thrown into another world; and yet, struggles, miseries, discontentment, and a quest for meaning and recognition are likewise echoed (in different ways) by those who bared their souls within its pages.

Just like these battered working souls in a different part of the globe (not to mention from a different era as well), my life seems to go on a grueling ride between sanity and madness when a storm, stronger than a certain famous person’s will to stay in power, enters and tries to destroy the once-serene cycle of my world.

Link Credit
At moments like this, I feel lost. I feel… I feel like Cinderella still looking for that glass slipper, which, with the passage of time, had been turned into a pair of miniature high-class glass boots. I feel like Pocahontas still singing to that blue horned moon or whatever creature passes by until her tonsils had to be taken out by the tribal physician. But she would still sing. Without her tonsils, but with her lungs… her lungs filled with pollution from a far-away village and carried by the wind towards her homeland. (Morbid, if you ask me.)

I guess, at this point, you may say that I seek a deeper meaning to my role in life: A sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, a cry to be accepted. This brings me to another book that I favor: Eating Fire and Drinking Water by Arlene J. Chai.

The character, Clara Perez, was someone that I could relate to. Not in so many ways, though. She’s a girl. I’m a girl. She’s a reporter in a daily newspaper, the Chronicle. I used to write for weekly and monthly publications. She yearns to write articles that would breathe life into her (initially perceived) mundane world of non-existence. I feel non-existent at times, and need to break away from my pathetic state.

Link Credit

Anyway, the story unfolds with her usual complaints of not getting the assignments where, in her opinion, the real drama of life exudes.

One fateful day, unbeknownst to her editor, the story he had handed her would gather all the missing fragments of her life amidst the political turmoil in which it is intertwined with, and make her see the truth behind his words that “there is no such thing as a small story.”

Yes, there is no such thing as a SMALL story.

(Ponder, ponder, ponder.)

Before I read this book, the inner most-active circuits of my brain were on strike – making moments of staring at the blank document in front of me the ultimate test of my being a writer.

I remember my normal breathing pattern came in as an eerily, bedraggled, wind-like HHHAAA – that I felt tempted to audition for a new STAR WARS flick to be the new Darth Vader. (I could probably win an Oscar award for breathing hard. One good thing about this depressing state is that it allows me lots of practice in achieving such a feat.)

Thankfully, that state ceased to be.

You see, after I read the novel, my mind raced with ideas.

Although life has its twists and turns, there is a definite direction to where it’s heading. It may depend on what one would do for the NOW or it may be predestined by the invisible powers that be.

Everything has a purpose; everything happens for a reason. Moments of darkness and doubt are experienced to be able to appreciate the light. Despair and misery are thrown in for one to reach deep inside to pull out the strength, understanding, and happiness within.

Heck! Even my Darth Vader breath has a purpose: To know the value of normal breathing!

A third book, The Store, written by Michael Pearson, included among the roster of my favorites, also gave me something to think about.

Link Credit
I still remember that day when I first held it in my hands.

I remember reading, in its back flap, the words, “Thomas Kingston, with a few hundred pounds… opened his first small shop…. Through bankruptcy and blackmail, through fraud and fire, through family conflicts… he held to his dream….” that seemed to splash cold water on my face.

I remember saying to myself that here was a fictional character with all the problems hitting him from all sides, but he persevered. And I – I seem to cower away and bury my head under the ground like an ostrich from the things that seemed to pounce and scratch at me with razor-sharp fingernails (probably) because of my deluded thinking. And – for crying out loud – I’m not even a fictional character (whose breath of life merely starts with a stroke of a pen or a click on a typewriter or computer)!

(Although I have to admit, with shame, that during my childhood days, I had gazed up at the shining specks adorning the sky – known as stars – for many nights, and wished with all my hands, eyes, and heart that I was a fictional character, Alice in Wonderland, tumbling down a rabbit hole. You can imagine how crushed I had been when it didn’t happen.)

Unlike the two previous books that each took me two weeks to read, I finished this one in three days flat - although I knew I could do it in 1 day without cooking food, spending time with loved ones, washing the dishes, cleaning the room, watching my favorite shows on TV, succumbing to the call of nature, taking a bath, eating, drinking, writing or even breathing. (Beat that, Cinderella! lol!)

What I really like about this book is the character’s ability to maneuver all disadvantages and dilemmas that he would encounter, and let these things work for him. Problems became solutions; weaknesses were replaced by strength. In worst scenarios, his iron will to achieve his goal seemed to bend the fates in his favor.

So, there you have it! These three books were my saving grace.

In many instances of my life, I still reach for them. I never tire of them. They’re my wealth of encouragement, my treasure of enlightenment.

When I feel that I have no one to turn to at that precise moment of my despair, WORKING reaches out and pats my back as if to say, “Don’t worry, you are not alone. There are far worse scenarios than what you’re actually experiencing.”

When I find myself questioning my fates, Ms. Chai’s novel jags my memory with the comforting revelation that “There is sense… a plan behind everything that happens.” And in moments when I feel like giving up on my dreams, the third book, The Store, encourages me to keep going against all odds.

Writers such as Studs Terkel, Arlene J. Chai and Michael Pearson should definitely be commended. Their works speak to your soul, and leave you something to ponder about.

I still have a lingering taste of the digested pieces of wisdom from these books. And I would forever savor their sweet substance, which clothes me with a second skin of strength in my times of need.

Photo Credit: dan
Sheltered in this state of mind, I guess you’ll have to excuse me for now. I have work to do. As I said, I like to think I’ve got it made as a writer. ;)

No comments:

Creative Commons License
The Musings of a Hopeful Pecunious Wordsmith by SittieCates is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.