HOW TO BE A WRITER
At an early age, I was I think 13 at that time, I already wanted to be a writer.
It was the repeated adulation on Jose Rizal during my elementary years and those featured on TV, movies about Rizal that made me dream to be like him. My early recollection was that Rizal was a good writer that his works virtually transformed the Philippines into a developed country. Rizal’s interest in arts further inspired me not only to be a writer but also to be an artist too.
Later and into young adulthood, I realized something burdensome. To know how to write is a world different from knowing what to write. To be a writer, one’s conscience must be clean. One’s heart must be pure. One’s mind must always be objective. The first phase is to journalize, to have a diary, a notebook at hand. Second, to be reader, a bookworm if possible, one who is always curious with just about everything and with keen interest on intriguing matters. Thirdly, he must be sensitive to a fault. Note that these considerations are never honed in school; it is personal and a matter of choice.
I tried to fill up my diary and later, many years later, on re-reading it, I would fall from my seat laughing at my tenses and even in my composition. It was a period of “trying hard.” I tried to read books too, but school prescribed readings bored me including that which I am supposed to read. I had long spell of reading only a couple of pages, at most only newspapers and even then, occasionally at that.
As a consequence, I dropped the idea of being a writer and pushed it aside merely as a juvenile wish that is no longer pertinent and relevant to my early years in employment. At work, I must observe rules, follow authorities, join peers, be subservient all the time. There was no way to improve the mind through reading except to fill up thoughts based on amusing rumors circulating around. I have forgotten my notebook too. No more writing composition except notes on what to do. That was the end of my wish to be a writer.
Years of employment never even encouraged the formulation of ideas because in the bureaucracy initiative is almost a crime. One must never think because every layer of activity has already been defined by rules and regulations. One would court a series of administrative charges once a worker starts to think and act on his own. A bureaucrat must remain true to his stale surrounding and should act accordingly. The bureaucracy needs someone who knows how to chronicle like it needs a bullet hole on its head. And so, to be a writer is anathema to be successful in the public sector service. If only to ascend in the organization, I must forget to be a writer.
Sooner or later however, purity of heart and clean conscience took over my mind and from there the bureaucracy seemed to be alien to me. Writing became a second nature and I began a quest to read voraciously. I must reflect what tickles in my imagination and roam around the tunnels and byways of veracity. I could no longer find peace in an artificial relationship and must find a way to live in the company of truth.
And so I began my journey into the realm of candor. With pen and paper as my only instrument, I started to scribble thoughts and ideas, views and opinions, notions and concepts. These were all enervating forces which have saddled in my consciousness but which I could not express because I am virtually imprisoned with biases and restrictions of my workplace.
Finally freed, I have to go back where previously I left. I had been a loyal follower, a tolerant friend, an effective facilitator, a ferocious executioner, an administrator, a neutralizer. I was a negotiator, implementer and manager. But I was never myself.
This time around, I could only be the person I really wanted to be: a writer.