Monday, September 27, 2010

Take Me Far, Bring Me Home


Many years ago, I stood in front of Claude Monet's painting of the Rouen Cathedral at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. I was admiring his genius and wondered at how a painter is able to create an artwork that is distinctly his.

Do all artists have a signature? A certain way of looking at the world, a certain philosophy that differentiates a person from all the rest.

Lately, these questions have been in my mind as I try to understand myself as a writer and as I seek to venture into new worlds. Do I, as a writer, have a signature?

What is it? Is it a certain way with words, a certain lyricism? Is it what I write about? Or is it how I write about it? Is it even possible to identify a signature? Perhaps it is like a shadow that lives in your mind; you are dimly aware of it but once you train a spotlight on it, it vanishes.

People use different entry points to write. Sometimes, I write because of an emotion and I use that as a starting point for a journey. Oftentimes, these stories end up raw, powerful, sharp.

But when my mind is clear and calm, I begin the journey by thinking of a memory. I think of Mindanao and I remember growing up in my hometown Cotabato, where four dialects are spoken simultaneously. I remember our tiny house and quiet, deserted streets at night.

I think of a red headband and I remember falling in love with a stranger. I think of the Grand Canyon and I remember feeling small, in awe of nature and time.

I once said I write because memory is fleeting, and so I try to capture the past and the present. Things one cannot hold on to.

Although at times, it may seem I write to forget too. To leave the past behind in search of a future.

But now, I want to write about a fantasy, other lives that I haven't lived / have yet to live / waiting to be lived. Perhaps... will never live.

I want to experiment more with writing styles, perspectives, tones, subjects and characters in my stories. I want to create characters people can fall in love with; men who pay for sex, women who feel they are never beautiful enough. I want to write about lust, and anger, and jealousy.

I want to write about hate. I want to write about all the things we all try to bury deep down in ourselves, the emotions we pretend we never feel. The versions of ourselves we deny exist.

But not everyone likes change.

"It is a risk, Kane," Drew said. "Especially when you've built up an image. You may lose readers. For example, when I read your Bulitas entry, the first thing that came to my mind was 'OMG. What will they think of Kane?'."

"I mean, when others cruise in comfort rooms, parang wow, exciting. But when it's the Kane, parang, ay, he also does that pala?"

"What happened to standards? Some will understand that people are complex and appreciate that kind of adventure. But others, I think, they prefer to see their celebrities as stars - all shiny and glossy."

"What do I want?" I asked.

"Ahhh. I think you want interesting readers," Drew replied.

Smart boy, this one.

"You want people who can see the layers."

Then he suddenly quoted something Rudeboy told me once.

You, for instance, can easily come across as a flighty pretty boy whose interests do not seem to go beyond his chichi friends, the drama of his lovelife, or the importance of eyeshadow.

But it is the depth beneath that glossy surface that continually interests me.

"But not everyone can," Drew warned.

I thought about what he said.

When I first started writing, I wrote for myself like most people do. That is the most basic, most fundamental form of writing: self-expression.

As I grew and became more mature as a writer, I begun to learn to speak to an audience and my goals changed. Aside from self-expression, I wanted to connect to people, make them think, frighten them, shock them, create an emotion, a feeling, instill a thought.

I wanted to steal their hearts. Take them to places far, bring them home.

I learned to plan stories, to space out entries. I started three projects including Open Spaces, Spit Roast, and Sex Etiquette. I wanted to be the kind of writer who is unafraid to try out different things, to be brave.

Some of you may wonder why I do not respond to comments on my stories. I feel that each work should be able to stand on its own, without the writer explaining it. But that's just me.

I do love hearing your thoughts and in the spirit of bravery, I want you to be more honest in your criticisms. Tell me if you hated it, which parts and why? Were the characters poorly constructed? Was it the use of a certain language, a certain metaphor? Was it cliché?

I don't think we can grow as writers if all we see are good reviews. Bad reviews are important too; they remind us we are not gods.

And it is because we are not gods that we write, to create a vessel for our life stories. And once we are older, perhaps we can look back and see how beautiful it all was, even the sad, painful parts of it.


the geek said...

"Some of you may wonder why I do not respond to comments on my stories. I feel that each work should be able to stand on its own, without the writer explaining it. But that's just me."

exactly, kane.

and you are not alone...

Nimmy said...

more Gossip Girl-inspired posts! :D

Alterjon said...

a blogger friend and i agreed that perhaps you are a watch tower and you exist in-between blogs whenever your presence is needed.

when it’s you, people always intend to admire

Manech said...

"I do love hearing your thoughts and in the spirit of bravery, I want you to be more honest in your criticisms."

This, I think, is what most (if not all) of us want.

I think it's time for some revolution. :)

Désolé Boy said...

i actually don't know what to say Kane.
why do i look up to you as a writer? is it your style? your subjects? your POVs? or just because its you?
lastly, do i[we] need a reason?

red the mod said...

I remember the conversation we had just last week, about this very same topic. I will not recount the arguments and assertions presented.

I guess, one has to write because he is implored to. Like all artforms, the written words is indicative of the psyche, a method to the distillation of sentiment. Memory, fiction, selfish or selfless.

It is by writing that we bear our souls. And that, should be enough.

Mu[g]en said...

Artists have their own way of seeing the world. Just remember, never depend too much on your readers. In the end your writing should first and foremost satisfy you.

I agree with your diversity. That's the reason why writers like me have endured.

rudeboy said...

"And once we are older, perhaps we can look back and see how beautiful it all was, even the sad, painful parts of it."

I write so that I will remember, Kane.

Even the sad, painful parts.

Write what you wish, how you wish, when you wish. And while every writer cherishes his readers, if yours start disliking what you write, then they're free to go fuck themselves.

orally said...

Just write on Kane. Even movie stars-all shiny and glossy, get the urge to do unconventional roles. I guess it's all about evolving and diversity.
And oh, I like the Bulitas etry. But that's just me.

Momel said...


I like this post because it's about what we all have in common, and for some of us, what we all have left.

I know I did well if I read through what I just wrote and then I feel satisfied. There's that funny mix of words that I don't see nowhere else. The idea resonates regardless of the foul mouthing. The adjectives are used sparingly. If I feel angry when I wrote something, then I should feel incensed afterwards; if I felt horny at the time, then I should be masturbating after reading through it.

Writing is putting ideas into people's heads. It may not be good ideas, but that's a start.

You ever wondered how many "beautiful, well written posts, I'm actually speechless" comments you get? And you know you don't agree with them in the first place because you're not seeing what they're seeing. And that's weird because you wrote the goddamned piece to begin with? The reason why you don't get real comments from most of your readers is because they know you're pretty, and they're sucking up to you. It's hard to find substance when some of them are just putting up appearances. And of course, by "real comments," I'm referring to the kind of criticism you need in the first place.

Now if you want criticism you can use, then you would do well to participate in Jessica Zafra's LitWit challenges. She gives great feedback, really, and you should see how constructive she can get. That's a writing lesson on its own, and you're not paying for it.

I've said enough, so let me wrap things up with a Mark Twain quote because I'm on a roll here. This addresses the "signature issue."

"Let us guess that whenever we read a sentence & like it, we unconsciously store it away in our model-chamber; & it goes, with the myriad of its fellows, to the building, brick by brick, of the eventual edifice which we call our style."

Cheers You!

engel said...

you asked me what the purpose then of my straight blog.

it's me not being me. dr love. the frustrated fiction writer. know-it-all. obnoxious. cheesy. sometimes straight.

just let it all out kane. more than a writer, you are an artist.

wv: gettreal

wanderingcommuter said...

for me, artists create individuality, the meaning of their own human-ness. thus, we all have our signatures. people may not understand it or appreciate it, but at the back of head, we are recognized.

i completely share the same sentiments in this entry. i guess, for now, its finding my own adventure too.

goodluck and enjoy yours...

kaloy said...

a college professor of mine once said that we write not to be read... un - write your heart out. :)

Heather said...

Hello wonderful!

Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog.
Your writing is absolutely amazing.
Hope you have a good day :D

kmcaffee said...

You write beautifully ~ a mix of old fashioned word flow (that's not coming out right) almost like you were meant to write in earlier time periods and an edgy, modern wit. I just saw your comment on my blog and boy, I'm so glad I came to see yours! And I adore that you write in two languages and use art to enhance your posts! Following NOW! :)

lee said...

your blog is one of the very few blogs i always read but rarely comment on. why? because, your posts are just wonderfully written that i would not want to ruin it with my "senseless" comments.

there's just something about the way you write. undefinable.

Talia said...

This post is incredible, and so is your blog. I dunno how you found my blog, but I'm glad you did because I wouldn't have been able to find yours!

My stories are terrible, I mean what else can you expect from a 12 year old girl? But...stories are under all of my followers were it says "pages".

Have a lovely week =)

Red Nomad OZ said...

Ultimately, writers write because they must - because NOT writing is not an option (if you will allow me the indulgence of a double negative ...)

Thanx for dropping by!

Happy travels!!

Dazed said...

From admiring artworks to fondling “works of Art”,
From savoring fine cuisine to indulging in the finer thing,
From Paris, Arabia, the loo, and back,
What can I say? ---
The lady is a tramp! ;)

No one does it quite like you do!
Write to your heart’s content, ma chere amie!

♥N said...

I think that all writers have a signature. It may not always be easily discernible, but there is a signature. Many writers develop a talent to go far beyond their comfort zone of writing, and that is when they may start to write under a pen-name, so that they do not taint the image of their identity to whom their readers are already attached. You may lose some readers, you may even gain more, but in the end, you have to stay true to yourself. Write what you feel. That is the best writing of all.

Peter said...

But works of art are supposed to evoke these varied emotions. Even impressionists straddle a range of techniques and intentions.

Herbs D. said...

i think bloggers are at their best wit their first. its always raw, un-ruled and just free. over time, people learn to adapt but its the realness that keeps me hanging to them.