Sunday, May 31, 2015

Exactly Which is Which

I read my blog posts for the whole month of May on 6pm this Saturday, Philippine time. I said so many contradicting things this month. Reading those posts gave me questions about what I was actually trying to say, and I'll explain some of those things on this post. Some of these questions have also been asked by my readers in the past.

Q: I said that my new schedule for blogging is Wednesdays and Saturdays. Why was I gone last Saturday?

A: Because I forgot to say that my new blogging schedule will be keeping up with the time in New York, US. 8pm of Saturday in New York is 8am of Sunday in Manila. Most of my connections in writing live in New York.

Q: Why do I seem to love villains so much?

A: Because caring about the villain is an important part of my writing style. A writer is supposed to be not biased, and sympathizing with the villain lets me see the story from all sides.

Q: Why do I love Odysseus? He's a villain.

A: In Classics, Odysseus is not a villain. It's only in modern times that he began to be considered a villain. In Harvard analysis, Odysseus is the man behind the victory of the Greeks. Not Achilles.

Q: Why do I say that the place that inspired my villain's home is beautiful, when the real-life description is so ugly?

A: "10th Commandment" is set in many, different places. Its main settings are three. The villain owns many houses. He likes to move from house to house. But he considers only one of these places his real home. The place that inspired it is not the one that I described in "Truth Behind Fiction," and it's also not Marikina City. It's Antipolo.

Thank you for staying tuned to this blog this May. It's always nice to know you're still reading, despite all the irregularities in my writing. I'll try to be clearer and more direct.

Also, my first book took 3 months to be edited. "10th Commandment" might take 4. We will see.

(Photo credit: My sister, Christine Delfin. An old photo of me outside the Antipolo Cathedral. The bishop there is my uncle. He was also the bishop who blessed SM Marikina. People call him Bishop Gabriel Reyes. Don't think that my villain was inspired by him, though hahaha Oh, no. :D )

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Between Fiction and Reality

Odysseus has always been my favorite fictional character. "Fictional," because there is still no clear proof that he was ever a real person.

There have been lots of speculations, especially in the Center for Hellenic Studies, that he actually existed as a real person. There has been archaeological evidence of his cults, which ancient Greeks built to worship real heroes. But Odysseus is that type who will truly be hard to track down. He is a spy and a strategist. There actually came a point in the analysis of him in my class when we came to a blank ending in his story. It was either he died an unknown death, or he managed to transform himself into a more unrecognizable disguise to keep the most intelligent people from following the story of him. He's like a shape-shifter.

Anyway, last Sunday, I finally watched "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." I've tried watching that movie years ago, but couldn't find it. The kid just reminds me of my younger brother. The character of Gerald in "10th Commandment" was originally inspired by my brother. My brother died when we were very young. He had no mental disability, though, and neither does Gerald.

The movie was about the 9/11. It's quite a coincidence, because my previous post mentioned My Chemical Romance. The band, even though they're strange, was inspired by the 9/11. The charity group I created on FreeRice, "I.Q. United," had its name inspired by the "United 93" movie. I created the name around the idea of strangers working together to maintain what is good.

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" gave me a headache on Sunday night. No other movie has made me feel that horribly sad. But I still managed to edit parts of the first half of "10th Commandment." Last night, I finished doing the final edit on the first 18% of my novel.

Note: This is a scheduled post. My new blogging schedule is on Saturdays and Wednesdays. I hope to maintain this schedule, despite already being busy. We will see.

(Photo credit: me. Taken on May 25. Was on a travel to the place that inspired my villain's home when I passed by this car that was shaped like a giant shoe. Marikina City was hosting a shoe bazaar in time for the start of schooldays in June. Marikina has always been famous for manufacturing good shoes.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

All Things Music

Actually, Spotify used to be not available in the Philippines. When I told this guy about that, he was like, "Noooooo!"

Then he asked me to open a word document on my computer, and copy his favorite songs. I am that patient. *sarcastic tone* I didn't copy his favorite songs. While he got busy typing his favorite songs, I went to another tab and checked out if Spotify was already available in my country. It was.

So, after like, 15 minutes of waiting for him to type all his music, I told him, "Well, this is awkward, but I learned that Spotify is already available in my country. It's nice."

Yeah, saying "it's nice" sends off a feeling of happiness that can be quite contagious, keeping him from yelling, "Why didn't you tell me?!"

He gave me his Spotify playlist. Because we were supposed to be legit in the site where I came from, I signed up with my real name. Charlene Delfin. BIG mistake.

Within a few days, my very personal Spotify page was swimming across Google. In public.

You know, when I create personal web pages, I use pseudonyms to keep Google and my stalkers from tracking me down. But my Spotify page was right there in the middle of Google. Suddenly making it private was not an option.

When I started blogging again in late March and shared my Spotify page, I was like saying, "Okay. I give up. My personal Spotify page is now my public Spotify page."

I've actually created another Spotify page with a different name, but logging out of the public one and then logging in to the personal one takes too much time. The neighbor's noise will get into my consciousness in those few minutes of Spotify absence. As of this moment, I'm into a new form of musical escape: Private Playlists.

I'm currently listening to "Just for Tonight" by One Night Only. It's my song for the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University. The lyrics describe what Classicists do. We call our lives "a lifetime of study."

Yeah, many people interpret the song as running away with someone. I interpret the song as something else, since I'm cynical of the idea of running away. I mean, just where do they think they're going? It's still Earth.

Yup, I've written a poem titled, "Run Away with Me," but it's inspired by those words that Mindless Self Indulgence bassist Lyn Z wrote on her arm with a black marker (to which her future husband, My Chemical Romance lead vocalist Gerard Way, responded by writing on his neck with his own black marker, "Anytime You Want.") Those lines became the lyrics of "Summertime" by My Chemical Romance. I hate the song, but I love the couple. They are so the same.

You should check out "The Gravel Road" by James Newton Howard. It's currently my fave in all of Spotify. Too bad, I didn't watch "The Village."

Anyway, in my novel, I just finished writing the first chunk of words last night. I'm gonna write more chunks of words tonight. The writing is so hard to get into at the beginning, but so hard to get out of while I'm in the middle of it. (Photo credit: me)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Just. Keep. Writing.

Spent a few hours two nights ago writing down the differences between me and each of my characters. I also wrote the differences between my real-life story and the novel. The novel is basically the result of the old "What if" question that many novelists start with. I like to describe my novel as "If my life were a piece of paper and I folded the corners of the paper together, the part where the corners meet is my novel." It's like putting many different aspects of my life and seeing how they work out.

There is a bit of me in each character. Evelyn and I are both living multiple lives. Gerald and I are both secretive. The villain and I are both sarcastic. Still, there are these parts of them that make them who they are. Evelyn is far more fearless than me. Gerald is far more intelligent than me. And the villain ... well, I had great difficulty with the villain. He is a side of me that keeps doing everything that I avoid doing, and he's enjoying it. Like, totally.

I always knew that the story is just way ahead of me. That's why I waited two years just to finish it. Last April, I was thinking, "Can I wait another three years, please?" As of this moment, I just finished talking to two friends about the aspects of it that are so complicated. Sometimes, when you open up and just tell a friend exactly how you feel, they see what you can't see. This good friend said that I'm simply scared of my own novel, just like many other novelists out there. My other friend and I still can't figure out the real inspiration behind my villain.

Writers like me live with our characters. Well, you know, the most fun thing about Camp NaNoWriMo is getting to talk with fellow writers and discuss things that only us know about. It's hard to discuss these topics with other people. But just to say it exactly as it is, I keep many different characters inside my head. With every person I meet and every moment I get into, a new character is added. I go back to these characters whenever I need to write a story, just like a cook looking for ingredients. Evelyn came along only early this 2015. She replaced the original protagonist of the novel, Annika. Gerald is the oldest. He was in the comics that I liked to draw when I was 5-years-old. The origins of my villain are still mysterious because I just can't recall exactly when and how I got the idea for him, but my earliest memory of him was back in 1999.

They keep changing ages, names, and occupations in each of my stories, but they rarely change appearance. Gerald used to be named Gary. The villain used to be named Leonardo, inspired by da Vinci. They both used to be little boys, but in this novel, they're around 30. Evelyn is in her early 20s.

Whatever inspired these characters and no matter how I fear what the novel has turned into, I should just keep writing. Period. (I'm rewriting the first half to make it more vivid. Photo credit: me)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Truth Behind Fiction

Spotify is so cool. If "playlisting" isn't an official English word yet, it should be.

I was feeling like volunteering in that suicide-prevention site again a few hours ago. It's rejuvenating to help people. But, well, you never know which type of case you'll handle. The usual people I chat with there are victims of abuse. But the worst work so far was a war veteran who was suffering from trauma. PTSD is such a mystery. Even Harvard scientists are still trying to find a way to fixing that condition. So I just decided to not go back there for a while.

I'm sorry for disappearing from almost all over the Net. I was just busy focusing on my novel. Last night, I wrote an article about the true story that inspired it. It's basically about the things that were happening before and while I was writing the story, and how those things influenced the plot. Here are some parts of the article:

"I remember when I first got there, the people didn't want to talk to me. 'Because they can smell the truth out of you. You're from the good side of the law,' my friend later explained. They kept sending me to the wrong places. I did my best to fit in. The ground was like a dirty waterway. It was wet, uneven, and had unrecognizable parts of muck. There was garbage here and there."

"I walked deeper into the place. The corridor got narrower. I felt that I was being made to walk in a waterway. It was depressing. Imagine a place where the only separations between houses were gross waterways."

"The people were a diverse bunch. The poorest ones were those skinny and dark families who didn't know if they'd have something to eat by the end of the day. They lived in holes beside the most narrow waterways, and they didn't have light. The richest ones were far richer than me. God knows how many more wealth they truly had. They were crime lords who ran 'businesses' here and there. I think that they partner with each other every now and then, just like legal businessmen."

"I was finishing my HarvardX course while all these happened. I can't even imagine now how I finished it, but I finished it."

"I felt like crying when I finally got my first HarvardX certificate. It just made me look back to the past and how I never thought that I'd make it past the grade."

"I got into HarvardX Neuroscience because my mother had been making fun of the idea that the only thing I studied online was English. I was just feeling defensive. After all, my real interest had been Psychiatry. Neuroscience was the closest, since HarvardX still didn't have Psychiatry at that time.

Alongside Neuroscience, I also started writing '10th Commandment.' It was my first ever participation in NaNoWriMo, and, due to my weird nature at that time, I wrote it while studying for HarvardX.

Because it was a dangerous feat, I made the story less creative than all of my other stories. When I was younger, whenever I wrote a story, I was 100% creative. I always departed from normal and possible and wrote a story fully on whatever was made up by my imagination. But '10th Commandment' was made to be almost true. I just knew that a huge part of my mind will be busy with thinking of the things taught at Harvard, so I freed parts of it by writing a novel that didn't require much imagination."

"As I went on with the story, though, I realized that I made a mistake. I should have been as creative as ever. Because it was its realism that made '10th Commandment' extremely hard to write. So much rests on the shoulders of the lead character. The story is the lead character and vice versa."

"I won in my first NaNoWriMo and graduated from Neuroscience, but I never finished the story of '10th Commandment.' Probably because the truth behind it was still unfinished."

"The people told me to leave. It was one of those times when it was completely unfair. It was unfair. But in a place like that, what was fair? The only thing that I knew was that they were making me get out of the place. And you know, in a normal world, it's totally positive to get out of that place."

"You know, '10th Commandment' couldn't help but express my desire to leave that place. Did it happen exactly as I planned it? Actually, when I wrote '10th Commandment,' getting out of that place was just a dream. There was no plan to leave, but there was a wish."

(Photo credit: me)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Parts of a Day

I just finished writing my 81st poem. I have around 500 poems in all of my collection, and 90% of them are already published. In all of the poems that I wrote since I was 14 (the age when I started writing poems), the latest will be somewhere in the number 880.

I was supposed to start scheduling my blog posts like, two days ago. But this is still not scheduled. This is still live. I'll get to scheduling posts one of these days.

Earlier this day, I had a very nice conversation with a stranger online about the facts of writing. I like to befriend random people online every now and then. Most people consider this dangerous and I discourage you from doing it, but I haven't been in any kind of trouble so far. The hobby has actually earned some of the most valuable friendships I've ever had. There are so many intelligent people out there whose honest opinions matter. And whoever was the person I was talking with, I wish him all that is positive because I learned a lot from his advice. (Some of them become my real friends who I get to know more and more each day, and some are just like him. Staying anonymous.)

My close friends have always made it clear to me that they're unable to give good writing advice because they're not writers. They're in other fields.

Been going on with my usual life and got back to writing tonight. I spent the past two hours rewriting the plan for this blog. I removed certain topics from the plan. Now, I'm gonna get back to editing my book. I'll be rewriting the first part of it, and then remove unnecessary scenes. (Photo credit: me)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Well, it Was Fun

Last Saturday afternoon, I traveled to Marikina Heights. It was a beautiful day. Marikina Heights is a very beautiful place. It has neat roads, organized buildings, and lots of plants and trees. There was something about the trees that blended beautifully with the blue sky, just like a painting.

I was sitting next to the glass window of one of their food stores by 7pm. It was just so surprising to look outside and see a storm. The beautiful trees were suddenly rocking wildly in the strong winds, the sidewalk was already a bit flooded, and lightnings kept flashing. I took a video of it.

Soon, the lights of the store went out. The customers screamed and got scared. Everything was black. A man in the car outside switched the headlights of his car on to guard the door. The headlights that shone through the glass helped the employees of the store find their way around and fix the lights. The lights went out again later, and this time, they couldn't be fixed. My mother, who was with me, gave me her camera phone to take pictures of the brownout. Her camera had a flash, helping me take clearer pictures in the dark. My sister, who was also with me, and I later took selfies in the dark haha

I finished and left the store. Outside, the whole area was dark. Every business establishment and house had no lights. People crowded under the extra roofs of some stores to take shelter from the strong rain. It was the kind of rain that, even when you have an umbrella, will still reach you. Because the strong winds were blowing the raindrops sideways. I remember how my mother joked about the storm back in 2009, "The rain here is so strong, that it will enter your ears."

I crossed the highway in the darkness and waited for a cab out in the open. The shadows of the trees were swaying this way and that around me. All that I can hear was rain. There's something about storms that's so wicked. Not only do they soak you, they also attack you with chilling winds, flood the ground 'til you're wading in the waters, try to turn your umbrella into an uncooperative parachute, and twist your hair into knots. But the storm that night wasn't as bad as the ones I've faced in the past. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst, it was on 2.

The lightnings flashed every five seconds, turning my surroundings into a white world for split-seconds. I learned to memorize the ground whenever the lightning flashed, so that I can move about in the darkness without slipping or stumbling. I crossed to the other street and went back to the highway because there was just no cab. At the other side, it was quite surprising whenever the lightning flashed. It exposed the crowds of people who had collected under the waiting sheds. They stood close together like the penguins of Antarctica.

I ended up in a jeepney. It was full of tense people. Some passengers had been soaked in the rain. We traveled in the night, past flooded streets. The floods fly and spray to the sidewalks on either side of the road when you drive a vehicle at full speed, showering anyone who was unlucky enough to be standing on the sidewalk.

That night just reminded me of what it was like to be a resident of Marikina during a storm. It was fun.

The storm eventually stopped and my family and I even managed to have a family day yesterday for Mother's Day in Marikina. The winds were still stormy, but it was more preferable than the annoying hot days we've been previously getting.

I've been unable to get back to Bubblews because I've been busy editing and organizing the poems I've written since last year. The last time I looked, there were 75 poems in my collection. But I've written more over the weekend. So there might be around 80 by now. I've also been trying to figure out how to shift the topic of my Bubblews page from movie reviews to poetry.

In "10th Commandment," I've been doing more research. And in my other lives, I've been planning my new schedules. Most of us these days are living multiple lives.

Update: It's 4pm of Monday right now. I was supposed to edit and post this earlier, but this woman called me on another trip. I said I'll blame it on her if I get late here, so this is totally her fault haha (Photo credit: me. The brownout)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Change of Plans

Has been spending my free time doing a bit of management. Writing in these NaNos can be so confusing, and those months always leave me kind of blank. Unable to focus. That's why I love the NaNo after-party called, "Now What?" That's exactly what's on my mind whenever I finish a NaNo: Now what?

When I get so confused, I list down what was happening before what happened and what was supposed to happen after ... well, this is getting truly confusing. Simply said, I just recalled my original plan and created a new plan based on the results of April. So here's part of the new plan:

1. Edit "10th Commandment"
2. Edit "From the Human Chain"
3. Publish parts of "From the Human Chain" on this blog

I'm not very sure about certain parts of "From the Human Chain," and I need people's feedback on them before I turn it into a finished book.

My villain in "From the Human Chain" is inspired by Odysseus. That's why I said in my other post that I knew him well. The main song I listened to while writing the novel last year was "Surrender the Night" by My Chemical Romance.

I like to classify my villains by "most." The villain of "From the Human Chain" is the most intelligent. The villain of "Only the Good" is the most violent. Writing one of the scenes in it made me throw up. I can't find anything likeable about that dude. The villain of "10th Commandment" is the most attractive. Yes, the reader who asked about Luke Evans is right. I did base a bit of my villain on the actor. The "10th Commandment" villain is based on more than ten great real-life people, and Evans has been one of them. It's like mixing great identities to create one, perfect character.

On Bubblews, I'll soon be back on publishing poems. I started there publishing only poems. And my next posts here will be scheduled.

Currently listening to Mozart's "Rondo Alla Turca." Reminds me of that guy on YouTube who joked that Mozart might have forty fingers hahaha (Photo credit: me)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Deja Vu

Just finished watching "John Wick" with my family. We loved it. Some scenes creeped me out, though, because they had strong similarities with scenes from "10th Commandment."

I bet that many other writers have gone through this. Like, writing a story without publishing it, and then watching a movie that has similarities to the story. It's pretty creepy and also interesting. Five movies have creeped me out in this way so far. They caused me to put some changes to my plot just to be unpredictable. Like, You know, girls at the party aren't supposed to be wearing the same dress ...

Actually, I spent much of my free time in the recent days figuring out my impression of "10th Commandment." Last night, I wrote a list that honestly declared the other reasons why the story makes me uneasy. Because I'm starting to get the feeling that certain people might actually find the story fun to read.

I've been having thoughts based on the list I created last night. Like daring myself to publish it in exactly the way that I wrote it this April, and adding the extra scenes only if necessary. I spent the early hours of this morning reading the book again, thinking if it could be acceptable if I forgot the memories that I associate with it.

Anyway, thank you for visiting my blog today and in the past days. Thanks for the comments, likes, retweets and more. Receiving feedback helps me write better content.

Yes, we lost in the match. I mean, Pacquiao lost. Whenever he has a fight, the whole Philippines are united in supporting him. Today has been a sad day for us and many people are planning a rematch.

On Bubblews, I reviewed "Exodus: Gods and Kings."

(Photo credit: me)