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Why Do I Write?

HARDPEN'S PORTFOLIO

hardpen

Why do I write?

Is it to impress?

I don’t write to impress. I’m well aware of the fact that my skills in writing are nowhere near excellent. I am not even halfway my journey to excellence in writing. I am not sure if I’ll get there before I breathe my last. I have a long long way to go. Perhaps I may need a dozen of lifetimes (or more) in order to surpass the accomplishments of the likes of William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Browning, George Bernard Shaw, Leo Tolstoy and the likes.

So, why do I write then?

Do I write in the hope that I earn money and become famous?

Not even!

Fame and money are not my primary motivations for writing. Of course I need money. It’s hypocritical to say that I don’t like to have additional numbers to the farthest north of the first digit in my bank…

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On Being A Poet

It’s not easy.

For me, the literary genre most difficult to produce is the poem. Imagine putting together the elements of meter, rhyme scheme, sound and imagery… weaving your words together metaphorically  and figuratively.

My best poems are written in Filipino. I’ve been trying to write good ones in English but I have to admit it’s a mighty struggle. I’m not sure if for example the following quatrain makes sense:

Whisper your woes on the flicker
Cover it with dried leaves and twigs
Whisper till the flame grows taller
Let it burn your anguish and grief

I have no problem with free-verse but my dream is to walk gloriously  the “rhymed” and “metered” path while holding the hands of either Erato or Euterpe.

One time I tried to mix Greek mythology and poetry and this is what came out:

“Pain’s But a Myth”

Writing stories is just as difficult because mixing in a bowl  the elements of fiction within the bounds of the plot  is not a walk in the park.  But fiction writers have the luxury of using a lot of pages to serve their purpose. Leo Tolstoy needed more than half a million words for his novel “War and Peace.”

Conversely, a poet has a single page, sometimes not even the whole of it, to capture vivaciously and vividly the emotions and thoughts pervading within or around him. The Japanese, through their Haiku, would do it in a single-stanza poem with three lines consisting of a total of 17 syllables.

What adds difficulty when poets thread the rhyme zone is that they can not walk the path of sadness while wearing a smile. Neither can they frolic in the lake of happiness while riding the canoe of sadness.

Pain begets pain, joy engenders joy. This is seemingly the prevailing mood in the realm of poetry. Rare are the crying clowns who can masterfully inject sadness into the veins of their poems while they are cracking a joke.

The melancholic lyre sounds best when played by a poet who in one way or another licked some emotional wounds sometime ago in a desolate room. On the other hand, the trumpet of merriment can best be blown by a poet who has journeyed the clouds of ecstasy.

But life is a masterful musician who teaches poets to play both the melancholic lyre and the trumpet of merriment. Life enables a poet to play any of the said instruments at any given time.

If a poet intends to paint his canvas with gloom then he can easily prick an old emotional wound until it bleeds sadness. He can walk down memory lane and revive the pains inflicted by either a person or an event he would rather forget. That’s not masochism but rather a form of sacrifice, the poet ought to feel what he intends to write.

If it is the rainbow needed in his canvass then exactly the opposite of the foregoing he must be doing.

That‘s the beauty of being a poet. Poets can switch with ease to any emotions that they desire. Like an actor in a theater, crying one moment then in a jiffy burst into laughter.

Sometimes poets get misconstrued. When a poem tackles sadness and regret for losing someone the readers would think that the poet still loves and wants that someone back. Worse, the person who felt alluded to may either be excited or feel vindicated.

Lest we forget that poets are men of arts who write for art’s sake. Undoubtedly, they draw inspiration from someone or something. They need a motivation in pursuance of their art. But as it is, the end is the art and the motivation is but the means to achieve the end.

And what is the reward the poet receives for writing a poem? The reward is the poem itself. No reward can be sweeter than the poem that the poet chisels into perfection.

As to whether or not a poet  who writes a poem of gloom and bewail is sad and regretful, only he knows. Who knows it may be Melpomene who visited him in his dreams.

Source: On Being A Poet

Why Do I Write?

hardpen

Why do I write?

Is it to impress?

I don’t write to impress. I’m well aware of the fact that my skills in writing are nowhere near excellent. I am not even halfway my journey to excellence in writing. I am not sure if I’ll get there before I breathe my last. I have a long long way to go. Perhaps I may need a dozen of lifetimes (or more) in order to surpass the accomplishments of William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Browning, George Bernard Shaw,  Leo Tolstoy and the like.

So, why do I write then?

Do I write in the hope that I amass a fortune and become famous?

Not even!

Fame and money are not my primary motivations for writing. Of course I need money. It’s hypocritical to say that I don’t like to have additional numbers to the farthest north of the first digit in my bank account. With a family and a mother to support, with siblings asking for financial help once in a while, and with the projects I intend to embark on, I need additional sources of income.

“There’s no money in writing.”  That is a cliche but that’s the truth. Writing is not very financially rewarding. Unless you are a script writer of one of the popular TV networks or movie outfits in your own country or a novelist who belongs in the league of the likes of J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, and Stephen King.

Of course I am receiving extra cash for some of the stuffs I have written. For example, the university that employs me currently (2014 – present) gave me monetary incentives for my research works that were published in international journals. I would also get the same whenever I contribute an article for the university’s English publication. However, it’s not those extra cash that made (or is making) me write.

The rewards that writing gives, for me, are hard to quantify. Such rewards are transcendental. That’s not me trying to sound philosophical. That’s just the way I feel about it.

What about fame? What about the accolades? Are those the the things that inspire me to write?

NOPE!

As a matter of fact, when I write and allow people to read my works I am unnecessarily putting myself under the microscope. Instead of accolades I may get negative comments instead. This is the reason a friend said he would never write for any publication or post any writings on any of the social networking sites. He is afraid he may not  be able to take negative comments. He added he fears committing errors  in grammar. He considers it embarrassing to be corrected for such mistakes.

In my case, criticisms and corrections are welcome. As a matter of fact, I have already received a lot of those. I didn’t mind. I never felt offended. I have to admit that I have some works, both in English and Filipino, where my grammar leaves much to be desired. Such is the reason I keep rereading my stuffs in this website – to check for errors in grammar and word choice.

Somebody once gave the reason the eraser was invented – because nobody’s perfect.

People may read or disregard what I write. If they do read, a million thanks. If not – no hard feelings.

I may have received some good comments from  my  friends  for  some    of my writings  in the past.   But of course,    those   comments may have   been   either meritorious or simply generous. Sometimes there are people who give positive and encouraging compliments.

But aside from good comments some of my works have also angered some individuals who, in one way or another, were offended. Writing sometimes is a magnet for trouble. I remember quite well when I wrote a satirical poem in Filipino (about a wolf in sheep’s clothing) when I was working in a Catholic tertiary institution. The parish priest who felt alluded to (and I was really alluding to him) reportedly asked the Sister-President of the college, my superior, to summon me to the latter’s office so he could talk to me. However he was dissuaded from pursuing his request. But even if he was able to convince the President and the College Dean then, I wouldn’t see him. Why? That poem I wrote and my act of writing it had nothing to do with my employment. My being a writer has no personality and office that could be connected to any of the lines that run vertical and horizontal in our organizational chart. In short, the priest had not authority over me. The priest never bugged me again but I wrote another poem for him (Habit and Habit).

My quatrains (in Filipino) are the ones that brought me some colorful moments. I have lost a friend or two (or is it three… perhaps more) for the quatrains I have posted in a social networking site. I once wrote a quatrain and a friend liked it. Almost a year later, I re-posted the same quatrain and surprisingly the same person who previously liked it was angered and gave me a mouthful. We’re very good friends so we talked about it. He understood, apologized, and we both forgot about it since then.

Also, my writings where my political beliefs are in full display had me losing very dear friends. This is the reason I stopped writing commentaries about politics in the Philippines. I have not written one since the last quarter of 2017.

So, why do I write then?

Is it for the “likes,” “reactions,” and compliments I get when I have those poems, stories, and essays posted in my social networking accounts or in this website? Not also. Of course those things make me happy and I am so thankful for those friends who take time to read my works then reacted and commented on them.

Then, why? Why do I write?

It’s hard to explain. It’s  something like a combination of the answers to the following questions:  Why do people need to eat when they are hungry? Why do they need to drink when they are thirsty? Why do they need to take medicine when they are sick? Why do they laugh? Why do they cry?

There is a kind of hunger within me that only writing can satisfy. There’s an insatiable thirst in my soul that would go away only when I read what I write. I suffer from a very mysterious illness that goes away only when I write in sentences or verses  the equivalent words of the thoughts and feelings that drown me during quiet moments in my life.

Writing is my endorphin.

I must release my pain, anger and disagreement by writing about them or else they will haunt me endlessly. When I feel wronged I have to respond, not by violent means. I respond in a creative manner – through poems – sometimes satirical. I do it usually using anthropomorphism.

If the spirits of William Shakespeare and Elizabeth Browning I could not summon through the glass to inspire me to express in poetry whatever I wish to say then I turn to Francis Bacon and Michel de Montaigne’s way of capturing into words – essays – whatever it is that I wish to convey. if I don’t wish to be so direct with my points and would like to hide my feelings and thoughts between lines and behind symbolism then I walked the path that Edgar Allan Poe and Guy de Maupassan paved. I write stories.

I just don’t keep quiet when I notice human follies, especially if displayed by my friends and co-woorkers. Again I resort to anthropomorphism. I use animals to represent their irrationality. It may hurt them and make them angry but the truth may be bitter but sweeter than the sweetest lie. VERO NIHIL VERIUS. Nothing is truer than the truth.

This is not saying that I am a perfect human being. I am as imperfect as anyone else and may have, perhaps, done more terrible things. Thus, the satires I wrote are like boomerangs. They hit me also.

Pain is like a prison cell. It is by writing that I break free from that hell. As my heart churns out the words, I go through the pain, feel it,  not escape from it. And as I write the final sentence or verse, as I put the final punctuation mark, the pain vanishes.

Even my happiness and satisfaction wouldn’t be complete if I do not write about them. I need to  capture in either prose or poetry those moments so I can feel more deeply the joy they bring. I do write about  them so I can relive those moments any time I wish to.

I need neither material rewards nor accolades for what I have written (and will be writing.) The poems, essays and stories I create are themselves the rewards. I love and treasure them.

I write  not to impress but rather to express my thoughts, feelings and ideals. Writing is my freedom, my happiness.

SCRIBO, ERGO SUM. I write, therefore I am.

Source: Why Do I Write?

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