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I’m trying to work on short stories… now there’s a good qualifier: “trying.”

I don’t consider myself a good writer.  Whenever I go to work, or whenever I write for my own personal amusement, I always take it as a learning experience.  I try to convince myself that there’s a lot to learn, and that there will always be a few mistakes here and there.  In a way, I can only call myself a true-blue, honest-to-goodness “writer” if I can write something perfect.  If I get recognition, if another person calls me a writer out of respect for what I write, if I can be a peer to the writing community.

Last year, I gave myself a goal that in 365 days, people will know who I am.  People will respect me for my writing.  Cause celebre, hailed as the new wunderkind of Philippine literary circles.  Today, I find myself writing – trying to write – a short story on the wee hours of the morning, drawing from a very shallow well – and a very shallow understanding – of diligence and discipline.  If there’s anythming I have to do to be recognized, it’s to work my ass off even if it hurts.

My hands hurt, my head hurts.  Just before I started writing this godforsaken entry, the shooting pain that radiates from my hands to the base of my spine reared its ugly head again.  In yet another emo episode that involved a good measure of self-flagellation, I just cracked my knuckles, bent my neck from side to side, and stretched my fingers as far as they will reach.  Knuckles that have been strained, a spine jarred since my childhood, and fingers that have turned to claws.  I felt the urge to scream in pain, bit my lip, and waited for the pain to subside.

Then, it was back to the draft.  Back to a miserable, almost Quixotic struggle to reach a goal and to keep a promise.

With bloodshot eyes, I looked at the few paragraphs in front of me.  I wondered aloud, “Why am I doing this?”  Whatever I’m doing is not an act of passion or heroism, but suicide.  Diligent or disciplined as it may be, it’s not a cause for admiration.  Rather, the pain that I put myself through on a daily basis is a cause of shame, embarrassment, and alarm.  Too much self-sacrifice is useless for something that is not assured.

I don’t know when that recognition will come, but that is not worth the pain.  Yet until then, things still need to get done.  Works need to be written.  I’ll just have to draw the strength from a well much deeper and full than where I’m taking it from.

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