Wanting to Write
Inspirational Message of Attorney Dominador D. Buhain
at the Book Writing Seminar/Workshop
in Baguio City
Like any other forms of art, writing requires much inspiration. I have been privileged on several occasions to deliver inspirational message but to talk about inspiration to a crowd of writers is not an easy task. As writers, I believe you all long for inspiration. You wait for that one magic moment when your imagination sparks like wildfire, and there’s no stopping it. You stand still and look inwardly at yourself hoping to unearth a treasure that has for so long been hidden within you. And as you try to perceive the world around you and attempt to capture it in writing, you hope to reach a creative breakthrough wherein you can perceive life more intently, more clearly, and more meaningfully. Inspiration to a writer doesn’t come like water flowing from the river into the sea but as lightning touching earth and spreading electricity all over. Like all literary greats in the past and at present, you, too, need inspiration. Inspiration comes in various forms and sizes: music, colors, visual stimulations, love, and, yes, even a bottle of beer.
Writers enjoy playing with words, romanticizing the mundane, and creating a world where he can find restitution – a world where the artist is free and supreme. But you, as writers need to see that being an artist is not a license to be detached from reality. I have always wondered why an artist is either sporting a long hair or baldheaded. Some artists pierce and paint their bodies transforming themselves into pieces of art. Perhaps this is a statement of artistry and poetic freedom, but it may also be interpreted as an utter protest to order and disgust of reality. I have nothing against the idiosyncrasies of an artist, or a writer for that matter. It is only my hope that we exercise responsible use of our talents, of our arts.
As budding or practicing writers, you have to understand that writing is not just art but also science. As science it must follow a certain order and rule – a convention. This Book Writing Seminar and Workshop is designed to bring to you these conventions that could help you become effective writers.
As writer, you are the brain and mouthpiece of your work. Much like the central processing unit of a computer, your mind processes that which you wish to convey and your fingers put these ideas into concrete form. Using your chosen medium – the computer, a typewriter, or lowly pen, it is this concrete encapsulation of your thoughts that will communicate to the public. The process of becoming a full-fledged writer doesn’t end after your deskjet printer produces for you a hardcopy of your work. It is when you get published that you truly become a writer.
Now become the tough question, “How do I get published?”
There are many factors you have to consider if you wish to transform your manuscript into a book – timing, excellence, mastery of the language, adoptiveness, and uniqueness, among others. So many greenhorns wish to become writers but only few get to finish a manuscript, and fewer still get to see their names in paperback. It is only when you learn to put all these ingredients together that you could see your manuscript take on a printed form, displayed and sold in bookstores. The trip that your manuscript needs to make from your computer printer to bookstore shelves involves a lot of time and hard work, as if completing a book in itself is not already a tedious task.
You may think I am now discouraging you from becoming a writer, right? Not at all. I don’t wish to scare you or dampen your spirit. I only wish for you to have a correct mindset as you write. You must always keep in mind that you write for an audience and with a publisher. Ask yourself, “What is it in my manuscript that could convince a publisher that is it worth investing on? What is it in my work that would make readers dig down their pockets and make a purchase?” The publisher is your friend, your partner; the people are your students. Keep that in mind. If what you write doesn’t get the approval of your partner or doesn’t educate your students, you have to reconsider why you are writing in the first place.
Many writers, even famous ones, assert that “there is no money in writing.” Butch Dalisay in one of his columns in the Philippine Star advises a student to make sure he has other sources of income besides writing poetry. Especially in the Philippines, writing could not easily put food on the dining table. A poem of average length could only be worth a hundred pesos, and there’s no guarantee that once one of your poems get published all your succeeding works would also earn you a hundred more pesos. And even if you are that good, earning a decent living from your poetry would mean writing at least five poems a day for an entire month and having all of them published. If you have attempted to write a poem, you can understand that this feat is unthinkable. Unless you become as successful as Rawling’s and her well-loved character Harry Potter, it may take some time for you to feel the comforts of life as a writer.
The desire to become a writer must be borne from a sincere desire to hone one’s artistry and a genuine love for the arts.
You may think that because I am a publisher I tend to deal more on the business aspects of writing. That may be true, but not entirely. I understand as a publisher that to invest on a writer entails thousands of pesos in printing costs. I have seen money go to waste on unwise publishing decisions, yet I am happy to say that I have not lost the love of writing as a form of literature and as a work of art. Writing stems from our desire to communicate, to be heard, much, much more than our hopes to make money. Jewish-American writer Leo Rosten said, “A writer writes . . . because . . . he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood.”
Many budding writers have come and gone. Many like you have attended seminars like this, hoping to receive inspiration. And like you, many have waited for that one big creative breakthrough that could catapult you into a legitimate writer. Many have given up the wait and simply surrendered the ambition to write. What makes you any better than them? Wanting to become a writer is different from wanting to write. If you wish to become a writer, you must love to write. Seminars like this could certainly give you the inspiration and help keep that fire in you blazing. Keep your ears and hearts open because you will learn writing tips, how-to’s, and helpful bits of advice. On top of all the learning you could acquire from this seminar/workshop, there is one tip that I wish for you to remember: “Just write!” Wanting to write, hoping to write or planning to write won’t do you any good. If you wish to be a writer, write! In the movie “Finding Foreester”, a true-to-life account of the later life of William Forrester, the novelist advises his apprentice, “Don’t think, just write. Write with your heart, not with your head.” Sometimes we think too much about what to write and how to write that we forget to actually write something.
I look forward that as this seminar progresses you will have gotten a clearer picture of what you wish to become and what you hope to accomplish. I also look forward that before we end this workshop you have started writing your very first masterpiece. Thank you and keep on writing.