2017: A Reading (and Writing) Odyssey

I don’t know about you, but I’m so looking forward to the end of 2017. It’s been such an exhausting and depressing year for humanity. Everything‘s been exhausting: from daily life to most of what I’ve been reading on headlines and social media, to everything in local and global politics. Some days, I feel like not getting out of bed at all.

Thank goodness for books, then.


To be fair, there were plenty of bright spots, too. I think I wrote more reviews this year (five!) than in the past ones, which means I’ve been reading a lot more, too.

I liked reading these books this year!
Not bad!

Revisit my ramblings on these books via the following links:

This stack doesn’t include the no-thinking-required humor books I read while waiting, the new volumes of Saga (Volume 7) and Sex Criminals (Volumes 3 and 4) that I finally got my hands on this year, and the textbooks that are required reading for graduate school. But there’s always room for improvement.

I’ve been writing my own stuff as well. This year, I wrote my first full-length screenplay (which got great feedback and suggestions, so I’m super happy), a bunch of short stories (including one for a friend’s interesting anthology project), a few essays, a rushed and feeble attempt at a children’s story, and another poetry suite. Quality is questionable; they all need severe editing. But now I have something to work with, which is always better than having nothing at all.

What I’ve done this year that I’m proudest of is that I was a writing fellow for the 2017 UST National Writers’ Workshop.

It was such a fun, educational, and humbling experience; and it’s frustrating to know that I didn’t write my own material or apply to any MFA program or workshop in my younger years, and I’m playing catch-up only now.

I can’t recommend this workshop enough. Send the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (CCWLS) your applications — you have until December 30, so get to it! And if you need tips on how to apply for Philippine national workshops, read this.

Now, about wants and needs…

Reading/Writing wish list!

First, I want more reading material. Specifically:

  • The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson. I had actually put this hefty collection in my shopping cart at the Manila International Book Fair a few years ago, but ended up returning it to Fully Booked‘s shelves. Even with the price discount, it was still beyond my budget.
  • Musings and Meditations: Essays and Thoughts by Robert Silverberg. Curious about this book, especially now that I’m getting into science fiction.
  • Martial Law Babies by Arnold Arre. Can’t find this anywhere!
  • The Body Book. I already have The Soul Book, and I’d like to complete the series.
    • BTW, The Soul Book is a good resource for writers writing about Philippine mythologies. I’m grateful to author Paolo Herras for the tip; met him through a common friend at the same MIBF where I let go of The Complete Far Side.
  • Nick Joaquin/Quijano de Manila’s Reportage on series. I have Reportage on Lovers; am looking for the remaining three (the Marcoses, Crime, and Politics).

Of course more titles will be added to this list as 2018 proceeds. 😄

I want an e-book reader, preferably a Kindle Paperwhite. My four-year-old iPad’s about to die on me, and I think most of its functionalities are shared by my smartphone, so I don’t need to deal with Apple tax anymore. But one thing I can’t do on my phone is read e-books — I still prefer having a bigger screen for that task. So e-book reader it is.

I also want more book/publishing events. There are big annual ones like the MIBF and National Book Store‘s Philippine Readers and Writers Festival, indie-supporting events like BLTX and Komikon/Komiket, and new events like Komura. The more, the merrier!

I also hope to get into more writing workshops — and that there be more workshops for people to apply to, university-backed or otherwise. Right now, we have one from UST, two from UP (its original National Writers’ Workshop for mid-career writers, and the offshoot Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Workshop for the upstarts), two from La Salle (Iyas and the IWP Alumni Workshop), one from Ateneo de Manila, the big one in Dumaguete (Silliman), and one from Mindanao State University (Iligan). While we’re at it, let’s have more creative programs! I can only think of four Manila universities with graduate programs (DLSU, UP, UST, Silliman), and few with undergraduate programs (UP, Ateneo, and now UST).

With that said, I am also looking forward to the decline of literary patronage, writing workshops outside the established system, and the continued rise of self-publishing. (Which reminds me. I should also update these lists…)

I also want book stores’ Philippine literature section to be at the front and center of every branch, not at the very back where few people could see them; for more obscure titles from non-Western authors to be available locally; and for monetary prizes for writing contests and compensation for anthology contributions to at least be at the five-digit range per author (huwag naman PhP500 lang, ano ba!).

2018 plans

Obviously, I have to read more — and write more.

Following that, I hope to have the confidence to show, publish, and promote my own work. I’ve always been uncomfortable with self-promotion; usually I prefer talking about other people’s work because I never think mine’s good enough.

Guess that’s it. Happy holidays, and see you next year! 😃