Idle Tuesday

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For a writer to have a close relationship with a debater is curious. The easy assumption is they would not meet, not even close, during discussions on anything. The writer would be naturally passive, but silently he’d be processing the barrage of information coming from his debating partner, for future use. But the bond can be quite amazing. Because the truth is, at least for this writer wannabe, you’re both well-informed and can talk about anything. If not, you have each other for a source.

***

When did we stop speaking in straight English or Tagalog? I often cringe while listening to college students, COLLEGE STUDENTS, speaking in lousy and irritating “Taglish”. Sometimes with a hint of gayspeak, complete with gaytone. When Rufa Mae Quinto became a fad, I must have been in hibernation.

***

A language regression has been fanned, I suspect, by short messaging service or sms, more popularly known as text messaging, or simply text. Julie Yap-Daza wrote in her Panorama column not too long ago that she doesn’t believe text messaging has been trampling our use of language. She shields the technological wonder by saying text messaging is an entire language in itself, and says a teacher she knows testifies that students are okay when they turn in term papers. I wonder when the last time was that she overheard college students left to their own devices.

***

Reading The Kite Runner, I realize how much material there is in one’s childhood for a writing career. Except for the heavier content, which is maybe 70 per cent of the novel, this writer was thrown back into memories of kite-flying and -running. Everything is the same, except, in our quiet little town, lost kites were ran and brought back to the owner. Losers of aerial “dogfights” needed not fret because kite-running was a bayanihan of sorts: everyone coordinated to retrieve the kite for the owner to fly another day. The drive to write—of river-swimming in the buff, catching river crabs and throwing them into small fires to cook, lying down under chicken coops with a wooden .45 in hand and waiting for an enemy with a bamboo armalite—is completely a different story. More challenging is finding the tension around which the story is to revolve, because the city, where everything is presumed to happen, is far away, and the rural areas are presumably too dull for the larger reading audience. At least in this country.

***

College students these days rarely can write. Or I haven’t encountered the better lot. It’s because no one really reads anymore, argues the other half of my writer-debater relationship. I suppose that contains some truth. And either egos are flying so high that the openness to correction is gone, or the quality level of reading material has fallen drastically. There are rare standouts, so maybe there is hope. Let us not condemn the literary Sodom and Gomorrah for now.

***

Writing a book is difficult! Not only is it demanding physically and mentally, it is also taxing financially. Pun intended. Prior to finished product, you do not have any other income unless you have a day job. But, this has to be done. To each his own.

Montage Vol. 11 • September 2008