Category Archives: Whatnot

Filipino Friday

Filipino ReaderCon 2014 – Filipino Friday 2: Have you ever wanted to write a book?

Hello, Friday! What have you been reading? We still have less than a month before the Filipino ReaderCon 2014. So while waiting, let’s participate in this annual meme.

The topic of Filipino Friday 2 hits a little too close to home. Deep breaths.

As a reader, have you ever thought about writing a book? What kind of books/stories do you want to write? Or are you now a published author, and what compelled you to go fulfil this dream? How was your journey from reader to writer? How did you go about getting your book out there?

Yes. In fact, before I became a big reader, I fancied myself as a writer. I used to write for our school publications in high school and college. Writing workshops were introduced to us staff members. This gave me the opportunity to be a fellow of the Pamiyabe Creative Writing Workshop, a regional workshop with writer-panelists from the University of Santo Tomas, such as Lourd Ernest De Veyra, Eros Atalia (before they were famous), et al. And Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta, God bless her soul.

And you know what they advised us? Read, read, read. I wasn’t a voracious reader before this workshop. What nerves I had to write short stories! After this, I made a conscious effort to read more. I have never stopped since. I may experience reading slumps now and then, but I always manage to recover with aplomb.

So after reading many books, I decided to join another writing workshop, the Write Here, Write Now workshop helmed by Jessica Zafra. Instead of submitting a short story for everyone’s butchering, the participants wrote their novels during the months-long workshop. These will be considered for e-publishing, if we choose to publish with the author.

I thought I was ready to put out something for everyone to read, but I failed. I did not finish my novel. I managed to reach what I imagine to be the first quarter mark. Writing a novel for me is difficult because I get too attached to it. During those six months, I had frequent anxiety attacks that I could only ease by stopping, which is a paradox to my so-called writing life.  Because of the frequent breaks, I felt that I needed more than six months to write a 60k-something novel.

But if I were being honest with myself, I just don’t have the discipline. If there’s anything that I learned from the workshop aside from more read-read-reading, one should establish writing hours within his or her daily routine. And one should stop talking about his or her writing in social media, or idling hours away in social media while writing.

I’m thinking of returning to my novel after the holiday season. So if you notice that I’m withdrawing from social media, you already know what I’m doing.

See you next Friday!

For more information on the Filipino ReaderCon 2014, visit any of the following:

Filipino Friday

Filipino ReaderCon 2014 – Filipino Friday 1: Surprise, Reader!

Hello, Filipino Friday! I welcome you with open arms. Your arrival could only mean one thing: Filipino ReaderCon 2014 is just around the corner.

Let us now get to Filipino Friday 1‘s topic, shall we?

Surprise, Reader! Hello, it’s the first week of Filipino Fridays 2014! Whether it’s your first time to participate or not, tell us a bit about yourself. More specifically, tell us about your favorite book discoveries for this year. Any author you started reading this year that you can’t get enough of? A book you didn’t think you’d like, but you ended up liking/loving? Any book series that you just have to get your hands on? Have you discovered anything new from Filipino authors this year?

Hi! I’m Angus, a technical writer and a member of Goodreads – The Filipino Group (TFG), an online/offline book club. Below are my responses to this week’s meme:

  • Favorite book discoveries for this year
    • The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford – Darn those precocious kids!
    • Tenth of December by George Saunders – the deserving inaugural winner of The Folio Prize.
    • Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson – my new all-time favorite.
  • Authors I started reading this year that I can’t get enough of – The same authors of the books above.
  • Books I didn’t think I’d like but ended up liking – I don’t have anything of that sort because I’ve long adapted a mindset of not pre-hating a book, but I do have books that I think I’d like but ended up disliking. They are:
    • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino – overdone.
    • The Trial by Franz Kafka – convinced me that unfinished manuscripts should be left alone.
  • Book series that I just have to get my hands on
    • Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling – I’ve munched on the first four installments during the 2013 Christmas season up to January 2014. I don’t understand why I couldn’t make myself read the fifth book.
    • Twisted series by Jessica Zafra – I’ve reread the latter installments, particularly 8 and 8 1/2.
  • Discoveries from Filipino authors this year – None, but I’m excited to get a print copy of Ana Tejano‘s Fall Like Rain.

That’s it for me. See you next week for the next installment!

For more information on the Filipino ReaderCon 2014, visit any of the following:

My Most-Prized Possessions

Books Are the Things I Treasure the Most

We are now going to wrap up Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit. I immensely enjoyed this course and I think it really helped. I looked forward to going home to sit in front of my laptop and check out the new challenges. What will happen to this blog after the course? You’ll definitely miss the crazy bookish ramblings that were inspired by the not entirely bookish challenges. But you’ll see more book reviews, which is something that I terribly miss writing. I intend to focus on my review back log in the upcoming months.

The final challenge asks us to do this:

Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.


Why Books?

It’s not an entirely subconscious decision although I admit that books had this irresistible charm for me. You’ve probably read in my past posts how my childhood was with regard to books. Anyway, in high school, I hung around the high school library during my break times instead of mingling with my classmates. I liked walking around the cramped spaces between the shelves and reading the titles that jumped from the spines. I picked titles that caught my interest and read random pages. I borrowed books every week. I actually didn’t read them. Silly, I know, but I just liked having a borrowed library book in my bag.

Tales with the Librarian

I became friends with the librarian. She must have been in her mid 20s during that time when my face was encrusted with zits. She asked for my help to organize the Junior Librarians’ Club. She made sure that I will be elected among the officers. I became the treasurer. We organized field trips to libraries of different high schools and interacted with their library clubs, if any. We asked members to be student aides of our library at least once a month. We were a small but thriving club, and when our number started to grow, I decided that I wanted to be a reader. A real reader.

This decision coincided with the time I finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. What beauty! What wonder! What books should I read next to give me these visions and feelings? I stayed longer hours at the library. I went there immediately after my last class and read at a corner until our librarian told me to pack up. We would sometimes walk together until the gate. Sometimes, she would buy me a banana cue. I think I may have had a crush on her.

But that is entirely beside the point. I was happy that I was actually reading the books that I borrowed. I didn’t incur penalties for overdue books because our librarian saw that I was really reading. I am a slow reader, you see, owing to the intrusive narrator in my head, but I no longer mind that narrator now.

Borrowing Burrowed

There came a time when I didn’t want to borrow books anymore, and that’s because I wanted to own the books that I read. I grew up in a town where there was no decent book store during the late 90s. The books available were limited to romance bestsellers. I bought some titles with what money I could save from my allowance.

I wish I remember the first book that I bought with my own money, but as one book became two books and these two became the foundation of a book stack, I couldn’t suppress the happiness that I felt by merely looking at them. I always told myself, someday, I will have more. Someday, I will have a shelf. Someday, I will have a library.

Buying Blast

These fantasies were not immediately fulfilled because as a student who was entirely dependent to low-income parents, my bookish whims could not be instantly granted. When shopping malls with decent book stores started to be erected in our town, I was ecstatic. One of those book stores that opened was Book Sale. It is a secondhand book store that would thrill any book hunter. One has to dig through its bins and stacks in the hopes of finding a treasure. It really is book hunting.

Thanks to Book Sale, my meager allowance allowed me to eat at school, buy any school requirements, and buy books. At the end of one semester, I have amassed a tall stack of books. It wouldn’t stop growing. An additional stack sprouted. I couldn’t catch up with my reading, what with my studies and all that jazz, but it was a happy problem.

After I finished school and lived independently, I still continued to visit any Book Sale branch that I would come across my way. I also started buying brand new books without having to worry that my allowance wouldn’t be enough. I’ve been buying so many books that I forgot to buy clothes and shoes and, sometimes although rarely, food. There was a time when my stacks of books collapsed on me while I was sleeping. That was a problem.

Shelf Life

I was reluctant to buy a book shelf because I move around a lot. But what if my books fall all over me again? What if it becomes lethal? So I bought a book shelf. The second someday that I was telling myself when I was younger became true out of necessity.

I may need a new book shelf if I continuously hoard. I still buy books and I always will, so long as I have money and so long as I can go to a book store, but I don’t hoard as aggressively as I did before. I don’t think I should worry about another book shelf. My book shelf is serving me well. It keeps my books organized, sort of, and it houses my most prized possessions.

Biblio Blog

Without my books, there would probably be no Book Rhapsody. I’d probably be blogging about something else, that’s for sure, but thank heavens that I am a book blogger. This blog documents the lives of my books, and writing their biographies is something that I would like to do for a long, long time. That’s how much I value my possessions. I’d read them and squeeze my brains to write about them. My life may get in the way, but hey, I made it. I am still here.

I have a hundred lives waiting to be written, and hundreds more waiting to be discovered. They are all here, in my library. Yes, the final someday has become a reality. It has long become a reality. My younger self didn’t realize that my library sighed its first breath with that first book.

My Norton Short Fiction Anthologies, 3rd and 4th

Here’s a reading project that I might organize in the future

It’s the penultimate day of Writing 101, and it’s a free one.

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

I have always wanted to be a part of a group blog. I don’t know what’s with my obsession about this, but I just want to. I was once part of the Booker, Nobel, and Pulitzer projects. They are nice group blogs, but I left. Why? At the time I left, I felt that the members were merely cross-posting their book reviews, which is not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing because these blogs offer rich content regarding the projects’ respective focus.

I guess I wanted something more than that, something more collaborative, like members pitching in their ideas, and writing about original stuff without having to cross-post them and link them up to the original blogs. There is a sense of collective ownership in it, and it appeals to me.

Anyway, the reading project that I’ve been thinking of for the longest time is the Norton Short Fiction project. This will be based on the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. I’ve been stalling this because I am waiting for the eighth edition, which I imagine will be out soon. It would be nice to discuss the stories in it and have members post stuff regarding the stories, the writers, and various topics related to the art of the short story.

I don’t remember discussing this with anyone because I think it’s quite demanding. I mean, we all have our lives to live and blogs to maintain, and asking for time, which we never have a surplus of, for such a long-term project is too much. But if it’s going to be one short story a month, I think it’s going to be manageable. Besides, I’ve already listed the “core” stories, the ones that are always present in each edition, at least from the editions that I’ve managed to get a hold of. So even if one doesn’t get the eighth edition, one could still participate.

Sometimes, I wonder if I could really take on this or if I am merely being restless. I want to do so much and yet there are already so many things to do. I have a job, I have this blog, I have a reading group, and I have other interests. But this project has been playing in my head for maybe two years now, or even longer. I don’t think it will go out of my head, and it feels great that I am finally talking about its possibility.

Once that eighth edition comes out, I think I will pursue it, alone or not.

Damaged. Ugh.

So you want to hear a story told by a twelve-year-old?

I’m not going to completely follow today’s Writing 101 prompt because it asks me to rewrite a story about the decline and fall of a family into poverty using the POV of a twelve-year-old. But I’m going to write a story that’s told by a twelve-year-old, at least someone like me 18 years ago.

Today’s prompt: write [a] story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

I’m super pissed off because I’m supposed to be happy because it’s raining but I got the books that I ordered from The Book Depository and when I opened the packages, half of them are damaged. I just can’t stop whining so my roommate maybe got pissed off at me but I don’t care because I have to whine and complain. So usually I take pictures of them after I open the packages but now I have to put them under big stacks of books to flatten out the folds and the warps. Some of these books are gifts to my friends and I’m super shy because they should be new but they don’t look new. I don’t know who I’m mad at. So it’s not 100% TBD’s fault. Probably the local post office is pissed off because they can’t make extra money out of the books because they are books and they cannot be taxed and they cannot hold them at the post office so they just crammed the books into whatever. Is it not possibly to handle packages with care? I pay good money for books. They look like they’re from a yard sale and it makes me feel that they are not worth the money I paid for them. I hope I can feel better soon. I will feel better if the folds and warps are flattened. I cannot do anything about the creases anymore. Yes, there are creases, my gosh. I already emailed TBD about this with matching pictures. I did not demand a refund. I just want to let them know what happened and suggested if they could please improve their packaging to lower handling damages. And oh, I only got five bookmarks instead of seven. I ordered seven books and I should have seven bookmarks. And two of them have the same design so that’s like four bookmarks only. And I already have one of the other designs so it’s like I only got three bookmarks. So there. I guess I feel better.