Monday, July 29

Allies II

After a long silence in the car, Ma'am C stirred and said, "Your sensibility, not typical CW, 'no?" I chuckled because it was familiar territory. After another long silence, she observed, "Lots of fat characters in your story. Noticed that?"

Because we are both so murderously busy (right), during the past couple of weeks, we could only squeeze consultation into her Saturday commute between Manila and Angeles, where she has a weekly errand to attend to. Which means, when my shift ends at 1 AM on Saturday morning, I sleep for a couple of hours, head to Philcoa where she picks me up at 6, then try not to doze off in the two-hour trip. She does what she needs to do and we leave at 4 PM, again consulting in the longer ride back to the city.

The week I started my day job, I received a couple of acceptance emails. The stories/chapters had been slaughtered by Ma'am C, and I am thankful. I would like to think we deeply share something in common--aside from an insatiable dependence on coffee and anti-social tendencies--if only because once or twice a silence would pervade in the car and when she opened her mouth, the thing she'd say was exactly what I had been thinking.

In between literary gossip and writerly -- brr -- wisdom, there were silences, and more and more I am inclined to share, well, more, like the template story I wrote which was received spectacularly well in Silliman, the novel excerpt the folks at Iligan told me to bury underground, and my great, great need for validation.

The lessons in craft were too many to enumerate; I will be hardpressed to remember them, except intuitively, but many years from now I know I will go back to this routine, this magical time: to every Thursday, when I would check the envelop outside her room in FC and find my drafts and a new Booksale find ("You can have this" written on a post-it), inside the envelop I would put a new set of drafts and something from my own book collection, my humble contribution to this exchange, which she would retrieve on Friday.

In Angeles, there is a restaurant where we would end the day. She with her palabok and coffee, me with my mami and tsokolate. How else could I persist without this.