I HAVE been lecturing on editorial writing for the past many years now, mostly for the Department of Education (DepEd), whose so-called “press conference” is a yearly affair. I was in Carcar jut a couple of weeks or so ago, with school paper advisers and press con participants’ “coaches” for an audience. I like the concept of training the handlers because I want student writers to be handled by their teachers well.
I am for the most part self-taught as a writer, beginning my journey in high school after I bought my first book on writing titled “Reading and Writing the Essay.” Using the book as guide, I wrote and wrote, even if our high school paper had ceased operation. I wrote and critiqued my own work, and sometimes felt like a fool patting my own self in the back. And I read and read, visiting every library in the city to scour for books on writing and books on the lives of writers I idolized, like Ernest Hemingway.
My persistence made sure writing would love me in return. In the mountains where I stayed after I quit college, writing was a companion, helping to ease the loneliness of being separated from my family. When I was placed in solitary confinement after my second arrest (1988), my only request from my jailers was to be given a pen, a notebook and, yes, a Bible.
Many of my published works were written during this period of “rehabilitation,” when I was in a military camp. In that time of uncertainty, I turned to writing once again, trying to improve my craft on my own--until I joined writing workshops and became a full-tme media practitioner. From then on I felt it was time to go full circle and impart whatever knowledge I have on writing to the young ones.
I would have wanted to become a teacher, but I was a graduate of what we jokingly described as the University of Hard Knocks. A school professor once asked me to join her department in college, but had to let that idea go when I told her I didn’t finish the two degrees I pursued in a university, first was Chemical Engineering and when that became a burden to my extracurricular activities, Political Science. The alternative has been doing DepEd press conference lectures.
In those DepEd activities, you become both a lecturer and a judge of talent in schools and divisions and even at the regional and national levels. My wish is for the DepEd to treat these press conferences not only as a competition but more so to discover diamonds in the rough and transform them into real gems. Students’ love for writing should be nurtured and developed well.
It has been a while since I first lay in my bed and shaped sentences in my head like I was a sculptor using words as material. Until now, when I am sitting alone at home, in front of a fastfood table or inside a coffee shop, my mind would churn words like a factory producing cars would churn steel. I would pat myself on the back for every sentence that I think I have constructed exceedingly well--and then feel like a fool doing it.
But it also brings me to that high only my love for my writing muses could bring me to.