Tuesday, August 30


This is what I feared about grad school: revising something I love, and revising it until I no longer recognized it (which is exactly what is happening to this story). The specifics of this current tussle (empire writes back, defamiliarization, and a point about racisim) are too convoluted, so instead I will tell a story about another story.

Last October, I wrote something about a Spanish cougar who comes to the country. It's a story that I feel very strongly about (the beach, loneliness, old age, and memories of that good-bad Pagudpud summer). It was workshopped in Ateneo and the comments were varied. There was a consensus that it was "new" and "different," but there were also questions central to the very story, as in, "Do we need this story? This character?" The project, which thankfully came across, was post-colonial. Blatantly post-colonial, and some quarters (yes, I'm looking at you, BSS) thought either (1) we don't need foreign characters in post-colonial stories (huh), or (2) why the hell did you take on the voice of an old Spanish lady, you fool?

I revised the story for a few months, and when February came, I submitted it to Likhaan (which, to canon-obsessed me, is, like, Holy Grail). I stuck to first person and did more research, reconfigured the plot, tweaked the structure, and added more ambiguity (I always thought ambiguity is always made of win, a view that is subverted in every single workshop in non-realist fiction class). I don't think I sacrified its post-colonial import in polishing the craft; in fact, the project gained from the revision, as it made things more subtle, less obtrusive, and ultimately more potent (I think).

In Dumaguete, they found another glaring problem, so I was thankful that the story was accepted. Hahaha. Of course, it is not beyond revision, but I am beyond revising it. For now. I've forgotten the point of this story, but I know a thing or two about pandering to tastes. I hated having to revise something that already pleased me, but now, around three-fourths of the way to finishing it, I admit: there is more than one way for a story to be, in my mind, beautiful.


  1. The cougar story ba ito? I don't seem to recall a glaring error in that one. ... I liked that one a lot. And I'm glad it's coming out in Likhaan. <3

  2. Tin! Hindi naman error per se pala. But remember most of them thought the voice was unmistakably masculine? Followed by a drawn-out discussion on the "markers" in a narrative that tell the reader the persona is male or female.

    I'm happy, too! Haha.

  3. Goodness me, I recognize the poem in the photo. Ack, kill me now. It begs for mastery (hides under a boulder) of poetry!