rcloenen_ruiz (rcloenen_ruiz) wrote,
rcloenen_ruiz
rcloenen_ruiz

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Identity and Writing

I've been thinking a lot about identity and how this relates to me as a writer and how much responsibility a writer takes on when making the decision to create a piece of work. I've been rereading Gardner's The Art of Fiction and some things have been going "ping" inside my head. I think of the paralysis that's struck me each time I set words to the page. The paralysis comes from realizing that the work is cliched or it doesn't work the way I want it to, or I am not telling this story in a way that is different from how it's been told before. 

I was thinking about this while reading Gardner's book and I realized that in some way, I've been so engrossed in telling a story in the conventional way that I've forgotten how it felt like to push the form. One of the stories I wrote at Clarion West was a jungle piece. It was one of those things I'm not really sure could be called a story. Nalo Hopkinson asked me what I had in mind when I wrote this piece and I told her that I saw this scene inside my head and all these things taking place inside this place and I wanted to put that on the page. So, the point of view in that piece is the writer and not anyone inside the story. The way that piece came to be was somewhat like me looking through the lens of a camera and chasing with my eye everything that took place inside the jungle. 

It's hard to describe exactly and I can understand why a good number of people who've read this story find themselves perplexed by my intentions. I, myself, am uncertain as to whether it really is a story and maybe if I want it to ever be published, I should work on creating a more conventional narrative. 

I find myself wondering then whether compromising would create a stronger work. I'm not sure about that aspect.  Perhaps my relationship with story can also be related to the way I look at identity and my abhorrence of labels and boxes. Perhaps it stems from being a person who grew up in a country that has been colonized by other cultures. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I want Filipinos to see themselves as being a race worth being proud of no matter how much we have been disempowered. Perhaps it has to do with wanting to return to what is the true spirit of the people...the pure spirit which is a decolonized spirit...a spirit free from the desire to please the colonizers. 

Perhaps part of this can be attributed to how the core spirit has been super-imposed with images and expressions that are not our own (we are a catholic/christian nation only because we were colonized, so people should not wonder when people who go to church on Sunday will celebrate baki the next day.)

What does this mean and how does this affect my writing? I've been thinking about that a lot and wondering whether this means I should just go and follow the path common to Filipino writers and just write realism, magical realism or patriotic/socially relevant literature. 

But, I really want to write science fiction. I want to write science fiction that incorporates the spirit of the culture I came from. Indeed, if we look closely at Science Fiction, so much of it is socially relevant and I love how this genre opens the door to many possibilities of expression.
Slowly, I am getting to where I want to be and closer to the kind of fiction I want to write. It may be sometimes conventional, it may be sometimes unconventional. 

Perhaps what differentiates the me now from the me that used to be has to do with this consciousness of the various things I carry with me when I enter the realm of story.

Tags: writing and identity
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