I gave a talk for the Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop this morning. I titled my talk Some Thoughts on Plot, basically discussing the necessary element of surprise in stories. I’ve actually built up a fair number of presentations on writing over the years, part of my ongoing effort to understand the craft. I’ve come to realize, though, I’m probably better as a critic than as a fictionist, and certainly I’m not a poet. Still, this is not a bad place to be in.
I really appreciated the stories the fellows submitted to the workshop. Unlike in past years where we’ve had to deal with attempts at fan fiction, young adult pastiches, and otherwise juvenile picaresques, the stories we’ve had this year are more mature and more fully realized. Three pieces stood out: a story in the vein of a Japanese folk tale by E–, a family drama written in flowing Filipino by H– (from General Santos), and a story of barrio manners with strong feminist overtones by H–. H–, as it also turns out, was my classmate in the English literature classes I took under Don Pagusara in 2007 (nine years ago, how time flies! and the lady is married now.)
It helped that the organizing committee had a large field of entries to choose from. They had 52 applications all in all. This is four times the number I usually got when I was running the show. Kudos to the team! And out of this wide field, they got many fellows who were either taking their master’s degrees or already teaching. The maturity and experience of the writers went a long way in producing stories of a higher caliber.
This, this is what I live for.