What I Learned From Joining Writing 101

The Writing 101 workshop is over, and even though it was fun and I met interesting bloggers there, I felt like I wasted an opportunity to actually build a writing habit. However, just like with any experience, there are still lessons from this, so I took some time to reflect on what I learned and I’m sharing them with you:

1. I don’t have time to write every day.

Writing is like a chicken-and-egg situation: you have to live your life and be inspired by the outside world to find something to write about, and you also have to find time to write to share what you experienced or what you are thinking of. One of my problems lies in finding time–I do not have enough in one day for everything I need and want to do. I spend almost three-fourths of my day working. When I get home, I usually just go straight to bed. Sometimes I drink coffee to keep myself awake enough to write something, but caffeine can only do so much. When the body needs to rest, it will rest.

2. I can be quite impatient with my writing.

When I was doing one of the assignments, which involved writing a story in three different points of view, I ended up not publishing it. At first, I had a clear idea of what I want it to be about. However, as I started writing the details leading up to the main idea, I started doubting myself. I thought it wasn’t good enough, then thought of another idea, so I scrapped what I wrote and redid everything. I did this around 3 to 4 times until I got bored.

It seems that once I have a main idea for my writing, I want to head straight to it and forget about the supporting details. This post is actually another example: I had an easy time writing exactly what I learned from joining the workshop, but when I had to expound on them, I had to fight myself into staying focused on the details.

3. I can’t write something that does not have anything to do with me.

I find this observation very disturbing. While I was doing the same said assignment and the one about the most interesting person I met this year (which I did not publish as well), I had a really difficult time outlining what I wanted to write. Aside from being impatient with creating a vivid description about the person who was not me, I also got bored with it. Am I a narcissist, or have I just not done enough to explore the world outside of myself and my ego? Or maybe it’s both?

Where do I go from here?

Of course, after learning more about myself, I have to do something about these “weaknesses” if I want to bring back my passion for writing. While I have some ideas on what to do, I’m not sharing them yet. Consider this the first part of a series of posts.

What is one thing you learned about yourself when you joined Writing 101 or (if you didn’t join the workshop) since you started blogging?

Be Brief: An Open Letter in 100 Words

Note: This is a post for the Writing 101 Workshop.


Dear 15-year-old me,

I know that you are hurting, that you had your heart broken again by the same person. I know what you are thinking of at this very moment: you are angry, you are alone, and you are afraid of opening up again. I also know you are afraid that no one else would ever want to be with you.

I want you to know that’s not true–you are wanted, you are cared for, you are loved. Feel free to weep, and one day you will find another reason to get back on your feet.

Love,

23-year-old you

Serially Lost, Part 1: Nanay

It’s interesting how death doesn’t easily come to your mind. It certainly didn’t with me when I thought of my grandma–nah uh. Nanay, what her grandchildren called her, lived to the fullest every single day. She joined many activities in the community, even organising some of them. She won in a beauty pageant for women her age, proving she was the most awesome grandma in town. She also actively campaigned for her favourite candidates in the past three elections. And she was on top of the latest news and gossip.

Living with Nanay was interesting. In her home, you would be woken up by her yelling, “Denniiiiiiis! Tubig! (Water!)” to one of her household help asking to turn on the switch that would let running water flow into the house. When my little cousins would start picking on the youngest in the group, she would quickly shield her, scold the kids for picking on their cousin, and then scold the youngest for still wanting to play with them even though they always made fun of her. She also loved playing jokes on everyone–once she scared my little brother by turning off the light in the bathroom and then closing the door (he always left the door open when he’s scared), causing him to scream and run outside with soap suds all over his body.

Being her eldest granddaughter, Nanay spoiled me a lot, even when I am all grown up. She never forgot to buy me my favourite snacks when she went out. She defended me from my mom–her daughter–the few times that she saw us arguing. And when my mom made me wash the dishes, I would look at Nanay with puppy dog eyes, and she would volunteer to take my place. Now nobody is going to save me from doing household chores.

Two years ago, Nanay was diagnosed with breast cancer, but after surgery and a couple of months’ radiation treatment, she bounced back to her old self. Even while she was going through this ordeal, I was not scared–I knew she would pull through.

Around two weeks before she died, Nanay slipped on the bathroom floor and fractured her ribs. Mom bought her a walker and, just to heed Nanay‘s request, took her to the hospital where she stayed a few days. But Mom said she was fine and was just being overly dramatic. After Mom threatened that she’s going to leave her if she didn’t stop exaggerating about her condition, Nanay finally agreed to get out of the hospital and go back home. Mom and I had a laugh about this because we thought she would be fine.

In reality, however, she wasn’t. One week after the incident, Mom had to fly back to Nanay‘s hometown because her condition was getting worse. She stopped eating and talking–it turned out she had a stroke. But I did not worry too much; I thought she was okay.

She was definitely not okay, and this time she did not pull through. On the same week that they sent Nanay to the hospital, dad asked us to pack our bags because we are going to visit her that weekend. Looking back, I feel ashamed because instead of being worried, I actually felt inconvenienced. I was so tired from work that I just wanted to sleep until Monday came again; instead I had to drive 10 hours to see my ill grandmother. You may think of me as a terrible person, but in my defense, again, the thought of Nanay dying hasn’t come to mind yet. All throughout the drive to the hospital I thought she was just sleeping, and when we get there she would wake up and we would talk about the ADMU vs. FEU basketball game playing that day.

However, the person I saw on the hospital bed was not the Nanay I knew. The first thing I noticed was that she looked oldNanay never looked old. Her face looked younger than her actual age–smooth skin, light freckles on her cheeks and nose, and the only lines present were the crow’s-feet around her eyes. But the woman lying on the hospital bed did not look like that. Her skin was dry and more lines were showing.

Also, she wasn’t sleeping soundly like I thought she would be. She was gasping for air, with her eyes closed yet her mouth open, as if she was trying to keep her head above the water. She was lying on her side and her head was tilting up, I can see the extra skin on her neck inflate and deflate–almost like a frog’s–while she gasped for breath. Nanay was suffering.

I tried to hold her and call out, “Nanay, we’re here,” but no words came out. I stood there, holding her arm and couldn’t help but cry. My brothers who stood beside me holding her cried too. We knew that she was in pain, and I felt helpless because I don’t know how she’ll get better. I was not ready to see her looking weak. I was not ready for her to leave us.

But I had no choice but to make peace with the situation. Nanay was in pain, and she was afraid of being in pain ever since she was first diagnosed with cancer. Aside from having a stroke, the doctors also discovered that she had bone cancer in the later stage, and that the cancer cells in her breasts metastasized. Her kidney had failed as well, and her blood was infected, which gave her high fever. I had to accept that it was only a matter of time before she passes away.

Nanay died the next day, on 14th September 2014. She was 70 years old.

She passed away while she was surrounded by her two sons and one daughter, and 3 of her 12 grandchildren. A few hours before she passed, she got to hear her youngest daughter–who was in the US and could not leave until her passport was processed–over the phone. My other little cousins came later, with the second youngest holding a letter for Nanay.

Now that Nanay is gone, her house seemed to be lonelier, bigger, and hollow. It used to be filled with her grandchildren running around and laughing, the household help cleaning and cooking, and visitors dropping by for a chat. Now that house is being occupied by one of her sons, his wife, and two children.

My little cousins definitely miss our Nanay, who always bought them chocolates and made afternoon snacks for them. My little brother, John, showed during her last days and after her death that he does love her, even though they always had their petty pranks and fights. As for me, I will always wish that she was there for me like she always did during my special moments.

A Room With A View

NOTE: This is a post for the Writing 101 workshop.


When I get stressed out from the intense pressure at work, it’s easy to think of a place I’d rather go to if I could zoom through space and in the speed of light. It is not my room (too boring), the mall (too crowded), or a café (I need to stop spending too much on food), but another place I went to what seemed like a lifetime ago.

Good morning!

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This is not your ordinary beach resort.

In the picture, no one was lounging around outside because this was not open to the public when we visited in 2013. I took this picture when I just woke up and went out to the balcony of my cottage to admire this view on a lovely summer morning.

The water was calm because nobody was swimming. Not since the day before, when my parents, my two brothers, my aunt, and I, ran towards the shore and swam all afternoon.

The yacht was docked because we didn’t need it yet. My family and I were its only passengers that time.

When a close acquaintance of my dad invited us to his beach property, we thought we would only be staying in a beach house, and not a beach resort. So imagine our surprise when we saw this:

I took this photo before we left.
View of Samal Shores from the dock.

The water was so blue and clear, you could see the rocks on the bottom. At a glance you would think that part with the rocks is shallow, but it’s not; I swam all the way there and it was already more than 5 feet deep.

The sand was white and unbelievably flat, as if no one had ever set foot there before. We later learned from the staff that it was imported from another white beach in the country, and (as seen in the picture) that it was raked at least once a day to look tidy.

The white umbrellas and the recliners underneath were inviting. I swore to myself I would sit in every chair before our time there is over (Spoiler alert: I didn’t get to).

The coconut trees swaying in the summer breeze made the place look cool and relaxing despite the summer heat penetrating our skins.

As soon as we got there, we rode a long golf cart to the reception area and were greeted by a staff member holding a tray of wet towels and cold water bottles for each of us.

When we went inside our respective cottages, we couldn’t help but feel at home.

A panoramic view of our cottage.
A panoramic photo of our cottage.

The bed was comfortable, and the linens smelled like they have just been washed (my favorite scent). The furniture was minimal, but we never really used them all aside from putting our stuff on. The TV was barely used. The bathroom (not shown in the picture) was spacious and clean, I showered longer than I usually do because I had too much fun dancing around. There was also a balcony that had a lovely view of the resort.

The balcony.
The balcony in my parents’ cottage. I didn’t get to take a picture of my own cottage’s balcony, but it was similar to this.

From my cottage, I could see the infinity pool, the pool bar, the beach, and the other island far away.

The view from my cottage.
The view from my cottage.

What took my breath away, however, was the cottage ceiling–

The ceiling of the cottage I'm sleeping in.

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It was like a sundial. At night, I stared at that beautiful thing, marvelling at this luxurious place and letting my imagination run wild while I thought of what I’d do if I could live there forever.

I would love to go back to Samal Shores.

I would love to lounge by the poolside again and drink coconut water straight from the fruit.

Nothing better than fresh buko juice on a hot summer's day.

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I would love to eat breakfast while looking over the beach.

Photo 4-8-13, 7 32 13 AM

 

If only I could have that place as my getaway every weekend, then maybe I’d feel more refreshed and motivated to get through each week. For now, however, memories of when I spent my time there with my family will help me relieve my stress even for a bit.

Unlocking the Mind

NOTE: This is an exercise for the Writing  101 workshop.


Even though this should be the first exercise, I’m making this my second. I find that free writing for me is easier than having to write about prompts given. I actually tried to write a story that has three points of view but I still need to work on my storytelling and I was too tired to even get past the first paragraph, so I decided to do that challenge later.

Today I was thinking about my plans for this blog. Or rather, what I am going to write about. But because my mind always wanders into the endless possibilities of topics to post, I decided to list down (in my head) what I am NOT going to write about:

  1. Work. Aside from the legal implications that writing about my current employment might somehow get me in trouble later, I also figured that talking about work is pretty boring, even my wonderful SO, who usually listens to whatever story I tell him no matter how lame they were, expressed disinterest in it. He even asked me to stop thinking about work too much, which I think is also an implication that I should stop talking about it.
  2. My SO. It is no secret that I am in love. Everyone, from my family and distant relatives to my real and Facebook friends, I have been head-over-heels in love with an amazing man for over nine months now. However, I am not too comfortable about sharing our relationship to the public too much, so I may only write about him (or us) when something exciting has happened, or when it is for a prompt that can be related to me and my SO.

The Three Most Important Songs In My Life

NOTE: This is a post written as an exercise for the Writing 101 workshop.


First of all, I am late to the party…again. Writing 101 started last Monday and here I am writing my first post–task #3–on a Wednesday. I have yet to do task #’s 1 and 2.

Today’s task is about sharing the three most important songs in my life but at the same time I also have to write freely. Well, nothing makes me clam up more than having to write something about my song choices AND having to just write–no editing, no re-reading the past sentences once written, only writing.  Which is very hard, since I made it a habit to first edit what I want to write in my head and then edit them again as I write them down (or type them out rather). It will be a while before I get used to this free writing thing.

As for my three most important songs, well, I don’t really have any. Music has never been that important to me, except when I some sounds to fill the room. I pretty much enjoy almost every kind of music, and I am never a snob towards any genre. The only time I pay more attention to the songs, though, is when I am in love. It’s a good thing then that I am in love now or else I will have nothing to write about. So here are the three most important songs in my life since I met Jacob, my significant other:

Live and Die by The Avett Brothers

This is the first song that Jacob asked me to listen to because it reminded him of me when he heard it:

And I want to love you and more

I want to find you and more

Where do you reside?

When you hide, how can I find you?

– Live and Die by The Avett Brothers

We weren’t an official couple yet back then, buuut he had already admitted to me that he likes me. I, on the other hand, being a coward, held back my feelings and did not confess that I like him back when in fact I did. Still, I knew that he knew how I felt for him.

Make You Feel My Love by Adele

A song that still makes me tear up whenever I hear it, Jacob asked me to listen to this a few months into our relationship.

I know you haven’t made your mind up yet

But I will never do you wrong.

I’ve known it from the moment that we met

No doubt in my mind where you belong.

– Make You Feel My Love by Adele

I love that particular stanza because it encapsulates exactly what my SO feels about me–about us. Even though we haven’t been together for so long, we have gone through several major hardships that either strengthen or break a relationship, we committed to ourselves and to each other to make this work and to communicate as often and as effectively as we can. I am so happy to find someone who actually wants me, who is happy to give me 100% of his attention, and who treats me the way I have always wanted to be treated–like I am special, like I am the most beautiful girl in the world even when I am obviously not. Feeling his love even from far away makes me want to love him back more and more.

Forever by Ben Harper

Which brings me to the song I dedicate to Jacob. I may have been afraid in the beginning.

So give me your forever

Please your forever

Not a day less will do

From you.

– Forever by Ben Harper

I have been hurt so often for falling in love too fast, for getting attached too quickly, and for being too naïve about love. Not only did I find my ideal man in him, but he also inspired me to be the ideal partner. Everyday I learn to love myself and be my best. He supports me and cheers me on in everything I do, whether it’s my goal to lose weight (or to be healthy, since he claims I do not need to lose weight at all), to work on my career, or anything I think of wanting to do, and I do the same for him. Not only is Jacob my boyfriend, but he is also my best friend. I trust him more than I trust anyone. He knows my craziest dreams and my worst fears, he knows when I am about to cry or when I am starting to get mad, and he knows how to calm me down or confront me when I am acting like a bitch.

Off-Topic: My commitment to writing

Aside from sharing my three most important songs, today’s writing exercise also wants me to commit to a writing practice.

When I decided to join the Writing 101 workshop, I have already made a commitment to write everyday to keep up with the assigned tasks and then once a week when the workshop is over. I also planned to spend at least 30 minutes to writing, but I think it’s not enough. I will work my way to finding the right amount of time I could dedicate to blogging, but for now I guess 30 minutes, or until I finish writing a post, will do.