On Saturday we had the last session of Write Here, Write Now, our practical writing workshop. The workshop consisted of 16 hours of discussions spread out over four weekends, with the objective of finishing publishable manuscripts by June. All the participants are working on novels or story cycles.
Twenty-one applicants were accepted to the workshop. One dropped out before the first session, citing personal commitments. One vanished from the face of the earth. One showed up at the first session then never appeared again. We recommend they enter witness protection programs.
One fell ill halfway through the workshop, but is reportedly recovering; you may still send us your manuscript. Another had a spouse who fell ill; send us your manuscript. One could not think of something to write, opted to work on a translation, then flaked out. One was off to a very good start, but may have been abducted by elementals because we have not heard from him. One had a death in the family and was unable to attend the final session.
Fourteen turned up on the last day. Of these, two had submitted their complete first drafts on schedule: Sharon Matienzo and Allan Carreon. Congratulations! We will review the manuscripts with our newly-appointed first reader, Deo, and send you notes in a couple of weeks. Brownie points to Evan Tan and Patrick Limcaco, who met their weekly deadlines. We expect at least eight completed manuscripts by June.
These are (L-R) Reginald Tolentino, Ryan Rivera, and Momel Tullao. Ryan is working on a philosophical novel which we look forward to reading. Momel is getting yet another tattoo. After some false starts and a period of grieving (his cat Prince died), he has gotten to work on a series of stories set in the inner city full of weirdos and perverts. We can’t wait. Other writers take years to find their voice; Momel has a distinctive voice in search of the right subject.
We have advised Reginald to drop his current project, which involves Iron Men wielding Mjolnirs, and get to know the labyrinths of Manila instead, beginning with Quiapo. His assignment is to figure out how to go to Quiapo using the public transport system (leaving his iPhone at home) and write a detailed report on the merchandise that is sold in and around Quiapo Church.
“Kids,” we told Reginald and Ryan, “Until you can get why the name Cristina Moran is funny, you do not understand Pinoy humor.”
“Why? Why?” Reginald asked.
“Clue. What is ‘semen’ in Tagalog?”
“I know!” he said brightly. “Mandaragat!”
“No, the bodily fluid, and conjugation is involved.”
Ryan’s systems lit up. “Oh. Okay, you have to find an analog of the sentence structure. For instance, to be urinated upon…”
They were still discussing this when we left to go to Ricky’s gallery opening.
(L-R) Lloyd Vergara, Mike Co and PJ Caña. Lloyd is stuck in chapter 1, as is Jaime, who could not join us at dinner. Mike’s novel was speeding along until our discussion of allowing randomness into the writing process caused his tightly-structured plot to branch out in other directions. This is a good thing. We expect his Metroplex Manila in June. PJ is working on a novel about friendship and betrayal that he must finish soon, because he has an idea for a second novel that sounds like bestseller material.
(L-R) Patrick Limcaco, Deo Giga and Sharon Matienzo. Sharon has finished her bildungsroman about the events in a small town. To decompress, she is working on a ghost story inspired by a sighting, corroborated by her fellow mountaineers, of Mariang Makiling. Patrick is moving to Bangkok, where he will probably have more time to flesh out his protagonist, the aspiring ‘genius’ Jestoni Jones.
Deo is stuck in the first chapter of his historical serial killer thriller. Given his vast reading list, literary tastes and general erudition, we think he might make a great editor. At this time the world probably needs more sharp editors than it does writers.
(L-R) Evan Tan, Allan Carreon, and Angus Miranda. Angus has planned an ambitious novel about the persistence and inconstancy of memory; it is so ambitious, he has stumped himself. With adjustments, it should be done in a few months.
Allan has finished his first draft of the first book in a novel cycle about aswang (Think Anne Rice). The weekly deadline really worked for him, and he reports that he got more writing done while he was working than after he left his job.
Evan has patiently endured our Sam Milby lookalike jokes (PJ: I don’t see the resemblance). His novel, a supernatural murder mystery, has grown in scope in the course of our discussions, and will now cover the mythical history of the Philippines. We joined the group for dinner, and on our way to the restaurant, who should we spot but the actual Sam Milby. Evan had wisely walked on, preventing us from testing whether the fabric of reality would split if they met. (But which one is the antimatter?)
If your company/group is interested in organizing a writing workshop, email us at email@example.com.
The Write Here, Write Now practical writing workshop was supported by the Ayala Foundation, Ayala Museum, and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.