The Torture of the Blank Page-A A +A
By Mina Paras
Monday, January 14, 2013
IT’S a lot like a new year. Or a new beginning. You’ve decided you want to turn over a new leaf, and promise, ‘this year I’m going to lose ten pounds, be fit enough to jog ten times around the Parade Grounds of Clark, to lift the luggage on that jaunt around Europe, to built the house of my dreams, and finally write that book’… And you haven’t the faintest idea of the first step, the right step, the best route to take.
It’s a lot like the blank page, a writer’s dreaded form of torture come deadline time. Before today, deadline hour, you had a hundred ideas swirling in your head. Today, you’re still deciding on which one to write about, and that clock goads you with its loud ticking-tocking. Oh why, why did I not write it last night, you groan to yourself, instead of settling that with that book that you’ve read once before? Today, you have to rush for a lunch date with Artlets friends, to welcome a visiting balikbayan you haven’t seen in ages. It’s almost a ritual, the way our group, contemporaries in the glory days of our blushing youth when everything was easy, Manila not yet blanketed under a asthma-inducing cloud of smog, and the world was our oyster, would meet whenever someone from the land of milk and honey deigned to come home and grace us with their presence.
It’s always a fun group, whether we are 10 or 30 meeting up, and we, all of us, recall the doggone days when we did our brand of mischief in the hallowed halls of the Commerce building, where the Faculty of Arts and Letters resides , where boys and girls had to take separate stairs.
There, in those same steps, also trod such luminaries as Jullie Yap Daza, once considered the doyenne of Philippine journalism, Jingjing Pantoja Hidalgo, once dean of the Creative Writing department of UP and now back at UST manning the Publications department, former senator Kit Tatad who dropped out on his third year, and countless writers, editors, and commentators who peopled most of the newspaper desks in the decades that followed.
Julie, who spells her name with double L now, was our teacher, and mentor to the best writers and editors today. She used to write short stories where she borrowed our names as characters. The last book Jullie published was a sort of sequel to her first Guide to Mistresses, and What Wives Can Learn From Them, the bestseller a decade earlier which necessitated a second and a third printing. Filipinos are indeed fascinated, then and now, with that clique known as mistresses; the rash of movies delving on the same subject underscores that fascination.
Back to our group, today our former professor Jingjing joins us at the Via Mare for lunch, which in previous gatherings lasted up to five, and then some. That’s how much fun we have in each other’s company. In previous meetings, our most enjoyable hours were when the others had gone home and William ‘Billy’ Esposo held court and told us secrets heretofore untold, of some prominent people, and events yet to unfold. Billy, Philippine Star columnist (The Wrecking Chair) and close Pnoy friend/adviser without a rank (he refused ) but is probably more influential than most of the cabinet members. Billy said that 2013 may yet be our best year as a nation. Billy is also author of The Kidney Diaries, a handbook that detailed his experiences as a kidney transplant survivor. It’s a must for all afflicted kidney sufferers.
Excuse me while I rush to my lunch date.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 14, 2013.