Mission And Vision As A Writer: On Rekindling My Relationship With My Muse


I remember from my pre-teens that I wrote about “becoming a writer” as an ambition. When a teacher asked us to write a formal composition on the subject, I wrote away my dreams to write pieces that would be displayed as New York Times bestsellers and touch people's lives. I wrote a lot at the time – from personal journals, short stories in my notebooks, to articles for our school paper.

Writing was my hobby (side-by-side with roleplay) as a kid. I valued my pencil case like other little girls valued their toy houses. I would imagine my pencil case as something like a doll house and my pencils, erasers, and sharpeners as characters. Fun days.

I kept a personal blog from the last year of high school all the way through four years of college. The creative drive kept me sane. A pivotal moment in my writing life occurred when my parents discovered my personal blog — I had to close it down. There was a rebel in me, a free-spirit who wrote about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, while my parents were religious conservatives.

My first job title was “ghostwriter” and I acquired it as a means to support my vices. School allowance was no longer making the cut; it wasn't supposed to afford me tobacco, alcohol, and unnecessary trips to the city for illicit love affairs. In the comforts of my late grandma's home, I wrote web content, e-books, and academic essays for unknown students here and there. I was a diligent worker who could go on writing mode more than 12 hours a day.

Back then, it felt like I could be ghostwriting forever, but one summer came when there was hardly enough work available to us freelancers. Hours would pass while I wait for an assignment to pop up, only to know that it had been taken as I tried to claim it. I thought to myself, “Damn, I need more steady work. I should probably find a job in an office.”

I went looking for writing jobs, came to an office in Makati, met recruiters, and ended up in call center work. Three long years later, I got the money and the steady job, I could afford more than just vices and hookup trips — but I Iost the one thing I loved the most – my writing.

It feels like I'm playing the role of an overseas worker who went abroad and abandoned a lover as part of the deal, and was now coming back home to find her and start life anew.

A question I face now is: Is my muse still here?

I had an emotional conversation two days ago with my new supervisor. I asked her if she was still painting. She responded on a sad note: due to the demands of corporate life, there hasn't been enough time to sit down and be thoroughly submerged in the creation of art. Before, she would paint till she fell asleep or until her stomach ached. Those days, though, well...those days are now just a thing of the past.

“I didn't believe in the concept of inspiration as a creative drive back when I was painting regularly. When I went out of practice, only then did I realize that my muse – who actually existed – had left; the creative work that I produce now doesn't have the same resonance as my works in the past, which stir distinct feelings of significance and connection to my artistic being. When I paint or draw these days, it's more of technical practice so I don't lose my drawing or painting skills.” – Nona

Dream Catcher

Recalling it even now as I write this turns my eyes wet. It would appear that life is a series of trade-offs where, sometimes, you just have to exchange what you are deeply passionate about with what you need to do to survive.

Not all of us can be starving artists. And in the satiation of our appetite for material things – like food and shelter – we emasculate the muse who guides the creation of art which is no longer being made.

I attempted to console her with my own advice: “You have a lifetime to spend painting. Who knows, you might find early retirement and then you can paint away as much as you like. Surely you're not allowing yourself to die and still not be painting (the kind of paintings guided by your muse) by then.”

“Haha, I'd die first before I'm doomed to never paint again,” she replied cheerfully.

After that conversation, I resolved to go back to writing and reconcile with my muse.

Out of practice for heaven knows how long, quite unable to recall the last time I wrote something I was passionate and proud about, I decided to reconcile with my muse. The first step was to figure out my mission and my vision as a writer, have a narrow focus yet a broad outlook for expansion and improvement.

There are plenty of topics to write about, ways to curate words, and creative forms of expression – so what direction exactly am I taking now? How am I going to come forward as a writer and perform for myself and my audience? Can someone be a drunken poet and an elite fashion blogger at the same time? Where do I draw the lines between different genres, forms, and styles of writing?

In revisiting my younger self as a storyteller, as a kid whose imagination was enough for a one-person show, as a teenager whose wild dreams paved the way for liberated thoughts and aspirations, as an adolescent who wrote about the pain of a heartbreak or a night of great sex — I realize that my mission as a writer has always been to explore in depth the intangible aspects of humanity through the written word. I have always aimed at touching the soul and captivating not just the heart or mind; I get deep and lost in thought while taking my readers hands and imagination to different planes.

I envision my writing space and the seats that my audience take to as a venue of creative expression and fearless engagement, where we introspect and be more in tune with the humanity that structured society steals from us on a daily basis.

I do not wish to write primarily for the bucks anymore (though a little earning to pay for rent and meals would be nice) and while I'm dedicating my soul to writing, it doesn't mean that I'm going to leave my job and sever ties with all my friends so I can lock myself up in a room and produce written pieces till my stomach begs for food (that honor shall go to Nona).

I will just write. Just write. It is not about striving to become a New York Times bestseller or a Palanca awardee. It is not about having yet another love affair with a muse. It is not for the by-line.

It is for a mission and vision that make my existence worth living.

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