Sunday, November 27, 2005

Literary Memoir

Okay, so I'm reading memoirs these days. I'm thinking: my life is a hell of a lot more interesting than what some of these people are experiencing. I never thought of writing one because everyone and his mother is writing a memoir. Hell, Clay Aiken (left) from American Idol has a memoir.

I believed I was too young to write such a thing. Then I thought: I am pushing the big four-oh. Maybe I have a little life to write about. One thing for sure--what I experienced before I was fifteen was a lot more exciting than what some memoirists are writing about.

The only problem with a memoir is that everyone will know your business. I mean, do I really want my mother to know what I was doing before I was fifteen?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Literary Salmon

I started a short story yesterday. I started a personal essay this morning. I've been thinking about ways of starting a new novel. I looked through some of my old files and saw a number of stories that I'd started and have yet to finish. These stories seem like salmon: many begin the trek to spawn, but only a few actually complete the journey.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Literary Repitition: The Barong

I started a piece this morning. It was a story that I'd been thinking about for a year. It was inspired from a trip to The Philippines I took in 2004. (Sheesh, that country so inspires me. I wish I could be there more often.) I'm simply "free-writing" about characters in this story and one of the characters is suddenly wearing a "barong." This item of clothing has appeared many times in several of my stories. I don't know why I have a fascination with this shirt and feel the need bring it into my work so often. Think about it: would a writer constantly bring in the same tuxedo to his work? I admit to owning atleast ten barongs in different styles.

I think somewhere deep down inside, I so associate the history of The Philippines with the Barong. For example, the reason the shirt is transparent is because the Spanish, who ruled the country for 4 hundred years, were afraid that their Filipino servants were carrying weapons. Thus, the making of barong required a sheer look, so knives could be detected. I suppose it was the Spanish version of the metal detector.

On another note, I find them absolutely beautiful. I have pictures of my cousin's wedding. All of the men wore barongs. I didn't think much of it at the time, but in photos, there was something aesthically pleasing about seeing all of these Filipino men huddled together wearing this elegant, pristine looking shirt.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Literary Egypt

What did King Tut read? I wondered this as I caught the midnight tour of the Tut exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (It's the last weekend of the exhibit. They' re holding tours 24 hours a day.) Hierogliphics--is this how it's spelled?-- is so beautiful to look at, I wondered what it was like to read.

Going to this exhibit satisfied a childhood dream. I remember the King Tut exhibit when it first came to LA in the 1970's. I wanted to go so badly, but my family was not the go-to-the-museum type of family. I remember passing LACMA as a kid and watching people go inside. I was so envious.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Literary Head-Up-My-Ass

So, have you ever felt like this? I mean, wondered if you made the right choices?

Maybe because we're nearing the end of the year. Maybe because I have a birthday coming up. But my head is going places it shouldn't be. My head is telling me I should have done more, owned more, learned more.

Then, today, I met several people who made "right" moves: went to good schools, recieved advanced degrees, got well paying jobs. After some conversation, I discovered that what they REALLY
want to do is publish a novel or write a book of poems. They have jobs which demands 60-70 hours a week, time that sucks away any energy for writing.

What are they going to do? They're quiting their jobs and are starting from scratch. A good number of them are my age or older, much older.

Suddenly, I realized I'd had my head up my ass. I made the right choices and they were good choices. I'm on a path that many people envy. After meeting these people, I became grateful, very, very grateful.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lilterary Return: Boldly Back

For the last several weeks, I'd been preparing for today: a press conference announcing the formation of API Equality-LA, a group to work on the same gender marriage issue in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. George Takei (left), most familiar as Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, and assemblymember Judy Chu were there to announce their support.

I was the point person to bring in media. I'd been losing sleep over this press conference, wondering if any one would come. It is a crappy thing to have a press conference with no press.
It got so bad that I could't write because I was caught up in this event. The only things I was writing were press releases and media advisories.

Well, it's over...and it was a smashing success. They came out, from Asian media like the Singtao Daily to mainstream press like ABC, Channel 7. It's done--atleast until the next event.

I'm hoping to buckle down and get back to my novel. It's amazing how I missed worrying about my novel when I wasn't worrying about it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Literary Oakland

So, I'm here in Oakland, California attending a conference. Most people don't realize how truly literary this place is. Novelist, essayist Jack London (left) is from Oakland. Mr. London died at 40--an age I'm fast approaching. By the time he died, he had published 50 volumes of novels, short stories, and essays! (Okay, I'm feeling inadequate.)

The other famous Oaklander is Gertrude Stein. I don't think Oakland is praising her, however. (Jack London has a square named after him here). Ms. Stein famously insulted the City of Oakland. She said, "There's no there there."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Literary Get Away

I had to leave town for awhile and breathe. I was feeling bitter--more than usual--and tired. I went to Northern California for several days. I drove up and enjoyed the ride up the 5 freeway. Normally, I dread such a trek (it took me 8 hours), but I enjoyed the fact that I was getting away. Even the smell of death didn't bother me as much. (Anyone whose driven up the 5, heading north, will know about passing the bovine slaughter house--Cowshwitz a friend calls it--which stinks to high heaven.)

I had moments to ponder my next novel. I need to change the names of some characters. I'd pulled names out of the air, just to have them. Now, as the story grows, I found that some of the names no longer have the same kind of resonance. Also, I made notes of developing one particular character that's been feeling unwhole.

I took the 101 freeway down--a much longer trip than the 5. It was coming down the 101 that I saw how truly beautiful California is: the lovely Autumn influence on the vineyards of Napa Valley, the charm of San Francisco, the crisp beaches of central California, and eventually the bustle of Los Angeles.

I needed this trip. I gathered myself back together.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Literary Reasons: Icon Magazine

So, many moons ago, I thought why should I come out of the closet? Why should I care about writing about my Filipino background. I mean, it's not like anyone is going to care. Gay Filipinos are such a small part of the world's population. Who would want to listen to anything that I said or did? Recently, Icon, a gay Filipino magazine in The Philippines--and one of the few in Asia, interviewed me. I couldn't believe that a whole magazine is dedicated to this "small part of the world."

I write for many reasons. A big one is to examine the intersection of different lives, countries, time periods, and beliefs. I heard a radio interview with Maya Angelou who said that people read to hear "The Truth." It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, people want "The Truth." Coming out and accepting myself as a gay Filipino man was one of the most truthful things that I ever did. I hope some of that Truth comes out in my work.