ON WRITING A NOVEL
There are as many a novel writers as there are novels. Their stories may look the same, the plot, the theme, the suspense, the tragedy, the comic side, the works. Most were done in fiction although one cannot dissociate its projections since it came from a reflection of reality than that of imagination unless it is exaggerated to drive a point. But what gets the cake is the time one must consume in the process of writing. Not so much on the style or the technical side like grammar and syntax, but in the conception of the story. There is also the element of time to be used, a lot of time as a matter of fact, for contemplation.
A textbook writer once said that one cannot call himself a real writer unless he has written a novel. And yes, true enough, a novel writer must crack his brains out to fill up a minimum of 200 pages of pure thought unlike technical books which could be prepared through hodge podge of lifting ideas from several references. In writing novels, it is more of characterization than compilation.
I realized this when I began to embark in writing one. It was more fun than I realized it. While I was for a while overwhelmed by the style of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature; impressed by the works of Paulo Coehlio, John Griham, Umberto Eco and Mario Puzo, not to mention the classics by Homer, Miguel de Cervantez and Shakespeare, I went through the rigors of writing for writing sake. And after a period of hibernation, came up with a personal obra. It may not rank in the same league as the masters but who cares, in the library, my novel will be arranged as one of them.
I took a cue also from movies, where novels were usually applied. In a recent film pageantry, the silver screen featured “Bonifacio” among others. It was hyped as a blockbuster with veteran thespian Robin Padilla as the main star. At the ceremonies, it even cornered a lot of awards, from best picture to best directorial consideration. Nonetheless, it flopped at the tills. Movie goers are not fetish on history even if the story has an intelligent side. They would rather go for the bad, usually, the zany side. It was the Vice Ganda starrer that clobbered the moolah.
In my estimation, if a novel would present something like that, as what Manuel Quezon III tried in his seminal novel “Illustrado”, it may, as it has, suffered marketing setbacks, let alone winning an award as one of the best written novel in his time.
The same can be said in song writing. The song “I got you under my skin” took 30 years before it becomes a number one hit in the billboard. Or the “Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling which took almost two generations before it became a rave.
Guided by this, I prepared myself for a longer ride. I prepared a story not based on history and its heroes, but based on an untold incident with anti-heroes as its moving characters. Not the kind of Bonifacio with Robin Padilla, or Rizal with Ceasar Montano, good movies but seldom viewed, but the kind of Nardong Putik, Waway and Baby Ama bio flick which racked so much. It even made those who played the role. Nardong Putik catapulted Ramon Revilla up until he became a Senator. Waway gave Ceasar Montano a banking name. Baby Ama pushed Rudy Fernandez to the apex of his career in the entertainment world.
The novel I wrote is not only a story of one wayward personality; it is a story of several persons, what the public, even what the judiciary has confirmed as anti social. My story is about all the celebrity prisoners who are, or once, have served time in the national penitentiary. It is a conglomeration of various stories one could imagine as if Asiong Salonga, Ben Tumbling, Jack the Ripper, Mr. Hyde were lumped in one prison cell.
It was an enjoyable ride, an adventure only imagination could provide. My novel is based on the truth of what is obtaining in the National Penitentiary but taken on a whole it becomes fiction. The characters are as real as I can take note of, their persona, their means, their idiosyncrasies. The incident with which they were made a participant of is likewise as real as the sun. Except for the fact that all of them, never even for once, blended into something factual as what I have intended them to be. That is where fiction came in.
In my novel, people come alive even their true calling and the events around them. I never hid them with different names. It is only in the context that their presence is something imagined and unreal. And that what makes my novel some kind of a novelty compared with the rest. Some would even ascribe it as libellous and outrageous.
If my novel becomes controversial, it is only the courts of law that could determine if it is worth the circulation.