Friday, October 28, 2011

The Hunger Games: Official Character Posters

Internet is one of the many reasons why my body clock is a mess right now, but staying up in the wee hours of the morning in the blue vastness of Tumblr (lol) has its perks. Today it’s this: chancing upon a photoset of the official character teaser-posters of The Hunger Games movie adaptation. You don’t know how excited I got! :)

Without further ado, here they are:

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Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
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Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark

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Liam Hemsowth as Gale Hawthorne

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Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy

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Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket

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Lenny Kravitz as Cinna

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Amanda Stenberg as Rue

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Alexander Ludwig as Cato

I’m really close to freaking out right now. These are just so beautiful! Effie’s character design as seen in the poster just breathed to life the images I had in my mind about the Capitol denizens. I’m looking forward to see the Capitol in its wickedly odd and colorful glory. AND LOOK, did you see Cinna’s golden eye shadow/eye liner?!  Excuse me while I smash the keyboard with so much love and excitement.

I love how they made Katniss face the opposite direction—it subtly gave her character poster a hint of rebellion to it. As for Haymitch’s part, I imagined him as more of a bedraggled type, but then again maybe that image is when he dressed up for the Capitol when the D12 tributes went for the interviews. Haha. And Rue, gosh. That sad little way she looks down? Anyone who's familiar with the book will kind of agree that the image is heartbreaking already. :( It doesn’t even help that her name is rue (as in the synonym of sorrow).

Also, Cato still looking dangerously gorgeous. I remember how many Tumblr fangirls jumped ship when they found out who’s playing his part. LOL. I wish Ludwig's acting will fit with the savage tribute Collins described in the book. I mean, he’s not supposed to be a heartthrob or something. *shrugs*

I wish they included a poster for Foxface or Prim, but who’s complaining? These are actually more than enough. Hee! I can’t wait!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When a child doesn’t read, imagination disappears

I’m not a happy-ever-after junkie. By and large, I prefer the darker fairytales over the sanitized/sugary Disney ones, but that did not make me immune from being a tad depressed upon seeing these PSAs:

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Cinderella losing her rosy glow, now all ghostly pallid and limping along the hospital corridor with an IV drip beside her; Peter Pan with the magic of Neverland wearing off, now old, sickly-looking and wheelchair-ridden. Any fairytale-lover’s heart will break a little when they see what happened to these classic storybook characters. But that’s exactly the concept behind these ads: the characters growing old, slowly dying, and eventually disappearing because of illiteracy. The ads are a part of the 2008 campaign The Gift of Reading, launched by the Quebec-based organization Literacy Foundation. Their main aim is to fight illiteracy.

“Reading feeds our imaginations,” says Gaëtan Namouric, Executive Vice-President and Creative Director at the agency. “When a child doesn’t have access to reading, that’s a child deprived of an imaginary world. This unbelievable injustice should mobilize a large number of industries in the field of culture, media, publishing and even ours, advertising. What would our future be if people couldn’t understand our messages? The mobilization behind The Gift of Reading® is also to take action to protect tomorrow’s creative; everyone in our industry should contribute.”

I found a TV commercial version of these prints:

Literacy Foundation: The Gift of Reading - Cinderella

It’s a smart commercial, albeit a depressing one (at least for me). I wish there were more ads like this! I have nothing against ads that use copious amounts of innuendo to tickle the minds of consumersin fact I commend those that are too smart that their meanings can be construed into more than two waysbut I prefer the ones that promote awareness.

In this video, Hansel, a dwarf from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Sleeping Beauty made an appearance too, and apparently they are also weak and sickly. In the doorway of the operating room we see Little Red Riding Hood’s hood hanging on a nail. You can only hope that the ‘doctors’ can save her life, or she will never be able to bring those basketful of bread to her grandma. :(

The good news here is all of us can be the "doctors." There are a myriad of ways we can help to make the children read, not only by donating books.


Let's digress a bit and zero in on one dilemma. One reason why most kids nowadays do not bother picking up books is the influx of products of modern technology that are completely arresting their attention. Instead of reading books, they prefer to spend all their time in front of the computer and other gizmos while playing games.

If we can instill in their young minds that there are amazing treasures they can only discover in books, we have a big chance of preventing the above classic characters (and every character in all forms of literature) from 'disappearing' completely. Let's do what we can to promote literacy. :)

My Sputnik Sweetheart entry

As promised, here’s the artwork I entered in Nowness’ Drawing Inspiration: Haruki Murakami Design Competition.

Haruki Murakami

I posted a WIP of this before. It is inspired by Murakami's Sputnik Sweetheart. I illustrated the character Miu with half-black and half-white hair to symbolize the enigmatic, doppelganger-esque 'changes' she underwent in the book. In the drawing you can see several body parts—the limbs to be exact—scattered behind her. The symbolism of this can be construed into two ways: (1) the objects of lust that had wrapped Sumire's very being when she met Miu, and (2) Miu's inability to will her body to respond to any kind of love or lust after her other self had gone to the other side, as if her body is not her own anymore. Lastly, you can see a naked miniature Sumire on Miu's palm to show that she has toyed with Sumire's life without ever meaning to. I made the whole illustration as surreal as possible, because  that's just what Murakami's style is. His writings make you feel as if you're tottering between reality and dreams.

I used a gel pen and color pencils for this art.

It's my first time joining a drawing competition that is open worldwide, even if it's online. I've joined mini press conferences and contests when I was in high school, competing as a student-editorial cartoonist. This is a whole new experience because I've always wanted to explore Murakami's work with art, and I totally enjoyed it. Knowing that anyone in the world can join makes it intimidating, but I tried anyway because there's nothing to lose--it's just for fun! I'm really happy when I found out my drawing is one of the most popular.

You can see all the submissions here. Hover your cursor on the thumbnails to see the votes each artwork received. You can read today’s article on Murakami here.

Review: Before I Fall

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Contemporary
My Rating: ★★★★ (3.7 stars)


BEFORE I FALL (2)

Once upon a time, a teenage girl died in a car crash.

The End? Not quite. It’s just the beginning of a story that may actually have a happy-ever-after—an unconventional one, especially in the first place it is not a fairytale at all.

Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall, follows the story of popular high school girl Samantha Kingston. More specifically, it revolves around the very day that Sam died, which she is “doomed” to repeat in some kind of a time loop until she figures out how to escape it. For seven times the same day is told, but with Oliver’s soul-crushingly beautiful writing, the formulaic albeit well-orchestrated plot comes off as refreshing. As you read along, you will not feel as if the six days are just echoes of the first one.

YA books with first person points of view are not my cup of tea, but there are a few that I liked unreservedly. Before I Fall is now one of them. Sam’s voice is surprisingly good; I find myself drawn to her story just a few pages after the prologue. Given her quandary, I find her medley of reactions and ruminations about the same things on the same day utterly realistic. Needless to say, her characterization is superb. Her transformation throughout the book is akin to watching a butterfly as it wriggles out of its chrysalis—the readers journey with her as she attempts to rectify the mistakes that she regrets to have committed, as she peels the superficial layers of herself and of her friends, and as she opens her eyes to appreciate everything that she has taken for granted when she is still alive. She grows and learns that life never fails to teach her something new (even if she is technically dead).  I commend the ace character development.

Over the sevenfold loop, Oliver didn’t forget to give the readers a kaleidoscopic glimpse on the lives of the other characters. She made it a point to not let any character be considered just black or white—everybody has shades of gray, just like in real life. There are a lot of teen books that deal with cliques, drugs, booze, and parties, but I think this book pretty much set the bar when it comes to honest portrayal of a typical high school life. The prose even has a journalistic quality to it, in a sense that Oliver didn’t bother on putting too much sugarcoating or melodrama to make it more appealing. A clear reflection is enough.

The pattern for day 1 is used loosely throughout the book, but the story never comes off as lackluster. The pacing makes for a thrilling read, and both the minor and major epiphanies will hold your attention and evoke several emotions. Anyone who likes romance will get a treat, too, but I think you should watch out for the ever-complicated relationships between friends. All kinds of friendships have their own versions of complexities, and Oliver managed to execute that very well.

Thumbs up for a satisfying read!
(photo by kayceemacuha)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another gift in the inbox

As I’ve said in my previous post, I’m not really feeling well these past few days. I rescheduled a…certain examination next week, and I was emailing back and forth with the examiner about the test date. Last night, I checked my inbox for the last time, repeatedly refreshing the page. Then this email popped up:
Dear Airiz, 
Congratulations on your entry to our Haruki Murakami competition being one of the six most popular! We will be announcing winners on the site on Tuesday and so for that I would love the following from you: 
A physical address that we can send the signed copy of 1Q84, and Murakami 'library' to; A high res version of your artwork. Please send via yousendit or similar, or as a zipped file. Accepted image formats: jpg, psd, tiff Resolution: At least 2000 pixles wide at 72dpi 
And then I would also love a sentence or two from you about the inspiration behind the artwork that you submitted, and your experience of being part of this competition.  Please also let me know your full name, where you currently live and if you can, your profession. As we are running this feature on Tuesday I would need to hear back from you before Monday (24th October)
Kindest regards,

Fiona Mackay
Senior Editor
NOWNESS
112-116 Old Street
London EC1V 9BG
At first I was like…what? I actually won? I checked their website to see the vote count and realize it’s true! I was quite astonished to learn I bagged the first rank with 188 votes (the top six entrants will receive the prizes). The first words out of my mouth? "God, thank you!"

It’s amazing how God gives you presents when you least expect it. No matter in what form He gives it to you, it can always bring you a different kind of bliss. I mean, look, the books are more than enough for me! A signed copy of IQ84? Dang! The one in my bucket list is actually meeting Murakami, but this is enough already I won’t give up on meeting Neil Gaiman in person, though.

They are going to publish an article featuring the winners on the 25th... I think I’ll put up my entry here along with that article. I practically babbled about it in my reply (I ignored the ‘a sentence or two’ in the message, but I told them they’re free to paraphrase).

I realize that this, too, can beef up my resume. Hee! Even if it’s online competition, it’s still worldwide, and even if it’s not journalism-related, I think I will grab an opportunity of being an illustrator as a sideline. I enjoy reading, writing, and drawing on the same level.

Here’s to blessings we’ve received and are yet to receive! Cheers!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Me, a grandma at 20

Impossible? Not really.

Technically I've just become a grand-aunt, but it doesn't have much difference to me. On the 17th of October, my half-sister’s daughter gave birth to a bouncing baby girl! They named her Fiona Beatrice. It’s my niece’s—the mom’s—choice obviously, and they wouldn’t accept any of my suggestions (Katniss! Primrose! Nessarose! Sookie! They said on things like this they wouldn't need my being a bookworm or a couch potato). My younger sister Aila agreed that Fiona does sound regal-ish, but she argued something along the lines of "Have you ever seen the Shrek films? Seriously?" I backed her up, but they wouldn't budge. So there.

The following photos were taken by my half-sister. She only used her phone, so please bear with the blurry quality. I would’ve gone to Fabella myself with my ancient Nikon, but I wasn’t feeling well that day and I had to stay home. My niece would be going home tomorrow, anyway. Without further ado, here's my grandniece:

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They told me she's a dead ringer for the father save for the lips. Fiona got them from her mom: full and cherry-pink. My sister kept on saying Fiona’s skin is so translucent it looks as if it would break at the slightest pressure, and some of the little blue veins were visible through it. From afar, though, she said Fiona looks like a squirming pink blob. :)

I'll upload clearer photos when they finally get home. It's funny how it took me a while to wrap my head around the idea that I became a grandmother (or grand-aunt, okay) before even being a mother. And that my mother is a great grandmother, and my grandmother is a great great grandmother. It's actually a nice feeling. Haha, just think about Aila, she's already a granny at 17!

*update: They arrived early tonight and my niece spelled out the baby's name to us. It's Fiona Viatriz. I'm not certain if I like the second name...it sounds like some sort of anti-biotic to me. Apparently my half-sis suggested of toying with the ordinary Beatrice, the same way our mother did with the names Janice (which became her name, Janiz) and Iris (which became Airiz, plus an additional background about it). Avoiding cliche as much as possible...I think it's in the genes. Haha. More baby photos soon!

Monday, October 17, 2011

An Abundance of Time?

Three days ago I finished Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall. As I’ve said at my Tumblr, the book turned out to be a good read—it sounds like a mash up between Gossip Girl and Ground Hog, with a little bit of The Lovely Bones in it. Something in Oliver’s writing make it sound more refreshing and original, though. I’ll say more in my review, which I will post later. :)

Without further ado, here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

Before I Fall (Hour Glass)
“My point is: maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much you can bathe in it, roll around in it, let it slide like coins through your fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us, there’s only today And the truth is, you never really know.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Game of Thrones, Lisbeth Salander, and the ever-shrinking book slice in my financial pie graph

Guess what’s at the top of my to-read heap?

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That’s right, sweetums! A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin—complete! I’m very thankful to my friend’s brother, Kuya Ryan, for giving this to me. The box set’s only one of the few things he won in a contest by HBO Asia. :)

Actually I’m planning to buy this soon, but not so soon, because at the moment I have to keep myself from emptying my purse every time I’m snagged by a new book’s magnetism. Officially I’m still a bum, but I have a part-time sideline that gives me a little money. Needless to say, it's still so small and I need to keep my piggybank fat for…other expenses. The book ‘slice’ in my financial pie graph is getting slimmer and slimmer by the minute. I think need to remedy it soon! Haha.

Anyway, I’m still stuck with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I don’t know how long it’s going to take for me to finish it, but I think the pacing is really, really slow. I mean, I love Lisbeth Salander and all, but an effective character cannot function well in a story with a plotline that slugs like an old, rickety train. Tumblr peeps keep on egging me to continue, saying that it will get better and exciting…I just wish that will happen soon. I’ve been at it for two weeks at most, and it’s getting a tad depressing because I’ve never been stuck in a book like this before. :(

Oops. Sorry for digressing! I’ll just stop ranting about it and go on reading it. Perseverance—even in reading—is a virtue! And I still have a bit of intrigue in me, I think it’s going to be enough of a fuel for me to continue. :p

I almost forgot, along with Larsson's book I'm currently reading Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall in ebook format (thanks to MJ for emailing it to me!). I have a hard copy of Delirium, Oliver's dystopia book, but it's in the lower part of my tower of to-reads. I've been searching for Before I Fall ever since I can remember because I think it's easier to get to know an author from the very first book he or she wrote, and that's what I'm planning with Oliver. So far, the book is okay. :)

Fritzie’s kitties!

Pardon this post for not at all being literature-related, but I feel as if I need to put these photos up. Fritzie—a stray cat that now resides in a nest of newspapers and rugs under the stairs of our house—just gave birth to three cute kitties! :) Look at them!

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This kitten’s my favorite. Ate Janiz keeps on referring to it as ‘tiger’ and I’m too overwhelmed by that scrunched face of cuteness to argue. She’s the one that always climbs on top of her mama, and I almost wanted to help her because her tiny limbs are all stick-thin and shaky. The only thing that deterred me from doing that is Fritzie  throwing me warning glares and arching her back every time I’m reaching out to them. Anyway, the kitten always manages to make it to the top without any help. :)

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Fritzie nursing her kittens. The one on the lower left is Tiger (how creative!) and that one with black splotches is…no-name (how creative to the second power!). Truth be told, we didn’t name all the kittens; my mother wouldn’t let anyone in the house keep these babies because of my asthma. “NO FUR!” they’d scream. That’s why the closest I could ever have as a pet is a crab (Aila’s words).

black kitten
Ate Janiz refers to this third baby as the ‘baboy ramo’ or wild boar. That is a mean thing to say (if I were a cat I’d tell her she’s racist) but I understood the reference. This kitten, when viewed from afar, doesn’t look like a kitten at all. Her ears are so tiny and her tail—only half-covered in black fur, exposing a little bit of pink skin—is reminiscent of a small rat’s. She’s the one that Fritzie always has to watch because she tends to crawl her way away from the group.

Priceless little creatures. I think I’ll name them anyway, even if they won’t be able to live in the house. They can always lurk under the stairs. xD

To end this post, here’s Fritzie (candid shot!):
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and here’s the neighbor’s tomcat that we believe is the father of these cute little creatures:
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He appeared out of nowhere when he heard the meowing of the kittens, but he didn’t go over to join his family. He just hid there behind the plant and watched for a while. Then he went away. We think there's a lover’s quarrel! haha!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bookwormism Update!

Just cross-posting a couple of things from my Tumblr account (but cramming them in a nutshell). Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

Haruki Murakami Entry (WIP edition):

There’s a design competition at Nowness about Haruki Murakami’s books, and apparently anyone who knows how to draw (traditionally and digitally) and take pictures can join! So I thought, why not? I registered and passed my work last October 9. I’m not really confident about it—there’s a bunch of talented people in the contest—but I think it’s worth a shot. Here’s the WIP edition of my drawing:

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That’s Miu, a character from Sputnik Sweetheart. I portrayed her with half-black and half-white hair, as symbolized by the doppelganger stuff present in the book (the two Mius are like yin-yang imo). The finished art shows lots of other elements, but I’ll just talk about it when the contest is over. A miniature Sumire appears in the picture, too!

According to the site,  six eligible entrants whose works receive the most votes within the voting period will each receive a complete library of Haruki Murakami’s oeuvre, including a signed first edition of 1Q84…each prize of a Haruki Murakami boxed library and signed first edition of1Q84 has an approximate retail value of $251.25USD. Total retail value of all popular-vote prizes: $1,507.50USD.

It’s already a big prize for a Murakami fan! I’m not expecting to win, but I hope some kind of a miracle happens, haha!


Lit Revisit: Of Walking Dead and Pretty Horses

A friend from Tumblr just reminded me how awesome the anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns is, and in an instant I felt a snappy nostalgia kick. It hasn’t been that long when I last read it, but the flurry of books that came my way made it seem like I’ve read it so long ago. I’m still on the same team, though: ZOMBIES! My favorite story is still Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson. I simply can’t get enough of the crass music-loving, homosexual half-zombie Phil Grayson (he reminds me of David Levithan’s Will Grayson, to be honest, not just the name).

Here’s some book-photo porn from the other day:

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Now that I look at it, my bedroom wall complements the book without the black dust jacket! It’s the hodgepodge of colors I think. :) Here’s the naked version of ZvU:

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…and the colorful back of the dust jacket:

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I have to admit, I sometimes don’t follow the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I didn’t apply that when I spotted ZvU on the bookstore shelf for the first time. Fortunately the content justifies the candy-colored scribbled beauty of the cover. Go here to see my review.

Will I ever be under the Larrsson Spell?


Guess what I’m currently reading? The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson! I have to admit, the first few chapters were a tad hard to go through. I can easily understand the journalism lingo, but I got lost in Larsson’s labyrinthine world of business. The jargon never ceased to give me massive metaphorical nosebleeds! But on the upside, I learned a few new terms (my favorite are “golden parachute” and “tin-can economy”).

lookit - Copy

I’ll be starting Part II: Consequence Analyses when I log out. :p I’m really loving Lisbeth Salander’s character, and I can’t wait till she crosses paths with Mikael Blomkvist! They’re both stubborn in very different ways, I’m sure their meeting will be interesting. Also, I’ve noticed that the epigraphs are always related to violence against women. My wild guess is that it has something to do with Lisbeth Salander’s past, which made her the way she is in the beginning of the novel. Her boss Armansky pried into it through their mutual acquaintance but whatever it was, it wasn’t mentioned…yet.

Can’t wait to finish it!

Something that’s inside you

Time for some mindless doodle! This one’s from Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. It pretty much sums up the basic lesson in life, and despite the metaphor, I think anyone can readily understand it. I can’t cram all the words in the page so I just typed the rest of the quote at the bottom:

Kafka on the Shore quote

“This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine. 

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others. 

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Review: Sharp Objects

REVIEW
Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Adult, Psychological Thriller
My Rating: ★★★★ (3.7 stars)

Sharp Objects

A dark and demented ride, a drizzle of grit on every page, honest depictions of damaged humans and a ribbon of wittiness fluttering around all these elements: that’s what in it for you when you read Gilian Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects. But like most writers who produced their first baby in the business, an appearance of a number of literary boo-boos is not surprising.

I’m on a rereading spree and I immediately grabbed this book from the shelf when I suddenly craved for a psychological thriller of some sort. So here’s the gist: Fresh out of a psych institution for cutting herself, Camille Preaker is a journalist for a second-rate Chicago newspaper. This is no ordinary cutting—not the wrist-slashing sort, but the creepy, carve-words-all-over-your-body kind (the powerful descriptions are enough to make me shudder!). Just as she thinks she’s about to move on and cut away ties from her horrid past, her boss sends her back into her hometown Wind Gap, her own personal hellhole that she escaped—not unscathed, as proven by the mass of word-cicatrices all over her body. She is to cover a serial killing case, and she’s going to stay with her family while doing her report on it. If you ever think your family is nuts, just compare them to the Preakers and you’ll be relieved that they’re normal after all. Camille’s family is the usual dysfunctional type, but they’re far creepier, especially her hypochondriac weird mother and a doll-pretty half-sister she barely knows. The mystery in this book is twofold: that of Camille’s relatives, and that of the serial killing. Flynn takes time in unveiling little clues for both, and every time I’m sure she’s about to reveal something, I always find myself on the edge of my seat.

I liked Camille for the most part, because she’s a wild combination of cunning and nastiness with a dash of innocence; she’s insecure, and apparently she’s about half as insane as anyone in the Preaker family. She’s an unconventional antiheroine and she makes the novel more interesting. It’s always fun to see through the eyes of a (marginally) mad person…and I’m not talking about the rainbow-colored fun or anything like that. There’s gore, there’s blood, there’s drugs, and there’s sex. Those elements are disturbing enough if you’re a normal person (or the squeamish type), and you got to prepare yourself for these to worsen if you know you’re about to view them through psycho lenses. There are times when Flynn’s writing remind me of Palahniuk’s, but not so much. 

As for the other characters, none of them struck a chord with me. Some are portrayed okay, but most of them are a stage shy of being developed into fully fleshed out people.

There are some lapses in the pacing department. That’s a big thing for a suspense book, as one of the main objectives of one is to constantly make the readers feel as if they’re about to catch their breath in every page.

All in all, this one's still a good read.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

This is Not a Short Story (But it’s Mine)

It’s 2041, the year when genuine love of a person can literally enhance the beauty of a flower.

Perhaps  the engineered seed of the Crown Rose is not the most useful of innovations, but it’s one of the most romantic. It’s a product either of a freak accident in a botanical alchemist’s laboratory or the last wish ever granted by an alleged modern genie. No one really cares about its origins.

I’m a non-professional Crown Rose grower. Growers are a new group of artists that appeared in the wake of the rose’s emergence, and their input is true love. They care for roses, and the kind of love they show their plants will be manifested in the petals: tender pink and soft like cotton candy, red-striped white like a sweet licorice stick, or vibrant royal violet adorned with sepals that curl like green tiaras. The most fascinating thing I found out about the petals is that they are like human fingerprints and lion nuzzles—they are genuine. But as we all know, any type of natural beauty can be stolen and imitated through “art.”

I’ll tell you a different kind love story.

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Like what I said, I’m a non-professional grower. I don’t receive any kind of compensation for the roses I grow. It’s my passion; I love the plants as if they're real babies, and for some reason I think they love me back. It’s hard to explain, but if you’re a grower, you’ll understand what I mean.

Sometimes people come over at my miniature belvedere to adore my flowers. Most of them are non-professional growers too, and I ask permission to look at their own oeuvre. The kind gardeners give me tips and advice after learning what kind of love I'm using to nurture my seeds. "Engineered fertilizers," we call them. In non-grower lingo they're called "constructive criticisms."

I think it’s important to note that I leave my greenhouse open most of the time, and I usually don’t see the need to keep track of who’s coming in to take a look at my plants. Now, there’s this one grower who arrested my attention. She isn't a blatant reviewer or watcher. From what I’ve observed after a certain string of…let’s say “suspicious” events, she’s kind of stealthy with an impressive gumshoeing expertise, sharp eyes on objects that is currently no one’s focus. And she’s my friend.

There came a time when she asked me to look at her plants. It’s a “gardeners talk”, so to speak. Her baby was good, and initially I was amused at the “aesthetic coincidences” in terms of the appearance and fragrance of her new rose and a flower I kept in the safety of my old belvedere. I didn’t suspect her of anything, because honestly I’m not the type that tries to flip someone around to see what parts of him or her are rotting. It’s a flaw, I guess, to think people can do good all the time.

So yes, the first time was kind of “cool.” But the second time? The third time? The fourth time? And every single time, she came to me to ask for my opinion about it. The memories were making me tongue-tied.

At first I didn’t say anything about the resemblances I noticed, because I understand that nothing is original. Oh, I thought, maybe we’re like each other’s aesthetic soulmate! But when the repetitions came often, this thought dwindled away like gusts of wind that finally passed. I don’t call that coincidence anymore. The little cynical voice in my head got a tad louder by the minute. I never wanted to scrutinize the similarities, but the circumstances became suspicious enough to prompt me to give her works a once-over. I wish I could show you the details—like the curls of every leaf and the chips at the torns—but if I do that, I might as well just drop her name. I won’t. That’s the point of this story.

How can someone duplicate  love, you wonder? Good question. The answer is, you can’t. I believe my friend has a love for our art, because in the first place, that’s what makes our roses bloom. But love alone is not enough. Being inspired is one thing; filching is another. If you swaddle your love with the threads you wove from somebody else’s tapestry of passion, complete with the exact frills and imperfections (only tweaking the edges so it wouldn’t be too obvious), you should understand there’s something wrong in the picture. Especially if you flaunt it and label it "MINE."

Now I understand I have a fault here, too. I shouldn’t have left my greenhouse open to everyone—I practically invited danger. I can be protective of my roses, I admit, but that’s not what I’m most concerned about. She's not the first person who did this. A couple of anonymous planters stole pots of my roses and displayed them in their houses before, and what did I do? Just laughed it off, shrugged it off. Our dilemma is a bit different and worse. I'm continuing mulling over the fact that (1) I never expected her, of all people, to do something like this and (2) she’s always showing me her roses for advice and comments, and then feigning shock when she finds out I have a similar rose. It's kind of like the culprit slapping the victim (not the best analogy, but you get the point). Sometimes thoughts like “are you mocking me?” fly in my head. But maybe no? I don’t know. I thought perhaps she’s attempting to let me know that she has cultivated creepy dead ringers of my roses so I wouldn’t freak out about it when I find it out later on. It’s so complicated.

I caught her one time, when she showed me a new baby of hers. I told her I have an old rose like it, and she went, "Amazing, it's the first time I saw this! Their petals have the same feel!" Take note: she hasn't even touched the petals. You haven't even mastered the art of con, my sweet.

As I’ve said, I’m just a non-professional grower. I can’t even pay the Nanny-Bot’s battery allowance to save my life, more so to take action regarding this little plight! But from now on, here’s what I’ll do: I’ll still grow roses, but I’ll be locking the belvedere. The ones I’ve left in the open, I’m going to let them stay there. They may need to be defended when the time comes.

She’s a grower with potential, I believe that. She just needs to grow out of this phase. I know that someday, she’ll be proud of something she can call her own. :) Like this little entry. It’s not a short story, but I can call it—quite proudly—mine.

Good morn-night.
*signs off*

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

For the last couple of days, posts about Steve Jobs, the tech pioneer and visionary co-founder of Apple Inc. and Pixar Studios, have been circling around the internet. On Wednesday, October 5, his death marked the end of his long battle with pancreatic cancer.

It’s  expected, but it didn’t make a lot of people less sad. Everyone felt as if they’ve been orphaned…and if you look at it at one angle, it’s kind of true.

STEVE-JOBS_thumb5
Apple.com
dedicates its homepage to Steve Jobs

Truth be told—and I’m a tad ashamed to say this—there’s only a handful of things I know about the man. Just a couple of information I could find without actually looking up anything in the info superhighway: (1) his technological brainchildren contributed a lot to the modern world, like iPods, computers, etc. and that (2) he, like many world-renowned innovators, has a rags-to-riches success story. It’s not the best course, but the flurry of blog posts, obituaries, and tributes gave me an opportunity to know more about him. 

All my life I’ve been hearing lots of tribute stories that call a recently deceased person as “someone who has changed the world.” I tell you now, after learning more about Steven Paul Jobs, I think he deserved to have that tag than most people.

Tumblr and a bunch of other sites are continually quoting a commencement address Jobs delivered back in 2005 at Stanford University. I haven't heard it before, so I watched it on Youtube. Like the young graduates who listened to him in person that day, as well as the million others who have heard of the speech through secondhand or third-hand sources, I was inspired…and it almost made me cry. Perhaps I’m being a little too dramatic, but I’m telling you the truth. His speech is comprised of three stories: (1) about “connecting the dots”, (2) about love and loss, and (3) about death.


Stanford University: Steve Jobs Commencement Speech 2005


Connecting the Dots
In the first part, Jobs shared his "origin" story and the ripples it produced throughout his life, particularly when he finally set foot on a tertiary school. His speech is practically quotable quotes galore, but I’ll post here a few that definitely struck a chord with me. Here's one:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
He shared bits of his being born out of wedlock, and how he was adopted by a couple who promised to send him to college when he grew up. He did go to college, but he “naively” opted to attend one with tuition fee that practically emptied the purses of his working-class parents. So he dropped out, and then dropped in subjects that interested him. He lived a not-so-romantic life back then (his words), feeding himself via deposits from coke bottles and curling up on the floor of his friend’s room because he had no dorm of his own. But the pin of his life’s compass is starting to seemingly point to the right direction, and this was prompted by the posters and designs adorning the walls of Reed College. He was fascinated by calligraphy, so he took up a subject about that.

For so many years it seemed like his interest in calligraphy wouldn’t give him any practical prize. But a decade later, his experience came in handy when they were designing the first Mac computer. Yes, the typography. If he hadn’t dropped out and took the class he wanted, he wouldn’t have given that herculean contribution to the world of computers.

I can relate so much to the young Steve. Right now, I’m doing something I want to do,something that seem to offer no aid in terms of practicality at the moment (I bet anyone who knows me personally would know what I’m talking about). People have been doubting, questioning, or just silently shaking their heads. But I think what really matters is that I’m happy doing it and that I have a passion for it. Sure, right now it doesn’t have an outlet that could actually extricate money to pay little things like the internet bill(!), but I believe soon it will. Bigger than that, even.

Perhaps this is what the young Steve felt before, and knowing that he did succeed, it made me so hopeful that I could also reach my own star. I couldn’t see the dots ahead even if I squint, but time will come and I could prove to myself that my choices and the events in their wake have their purpose. Only then could I look back and connect the dots.

Love and Loss
Just as Steve thought his success could only go notch after a higher notch, a glitch in the system popped out of nowhere. The next thing he knew, his life’s compass—so reliable in the past—went haywire, and everything was going downhill. Due to a falling out with his business partner, Steve got fired at the age of 30. Yes, by the very company he started building. If I were in his place back then, I wouldn’t know what to do; you could only believe him when he said it was devastating. And then this:
“I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.”
He still loved what he did. This kind of epiphany could fill up one man’s drained canteen of hope, especially if it’s seen clearly. I’m technically still wet-behind-the ears, but I’ve had (and am still having) my own share of head-shakes, rejections, and unfulfilled expectations. But like Steve, I knew that I still love what I’m doing, even if it has clobbered me with pessimism and heartache before. Seeing that I have yet to travel a long way, I should be prepared for more falls. Getting up after the fall may be hard, but as long as I know what it is that I’m holding to—as long as I know what I love—I can stand up and begin anew.
“It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. 
You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.”
And that quote above is the perfect touchstone for my life right now, thank you very much.

Death
Steve was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004, but even before that, he made it a point to live his every day as if it would be his last. The no-secret fact that we’re all going to die became his fuel, and as a result he began making big choices—choices that, as we’ve witnessed, actually changed the world.

The idea reminded me of a quote I’ve heard before from a TV series: “Death is a gift given at birth.” I didn’t understand it the first time I heard it (I was about 9 when I watched the show), but growing up, I learned the long answer bit by bit. The condensed edition of it? Here’s Steve's accurate quote:
“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart….
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true. 
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
I was close to tearing up when he was speaking this part. His true genius doesn’t only lie in being one of the major architects our modern world as we know it; it’s also present in the inspiration he gave people while doing the job he loved. Come to think of it, he’s still continuing to inspire even if he’s not around anymore (I’d like to present myself as a living proof). This is why he’s already an immortal icon even before he shuffled off the mortal coil.

For the closing, he spoke the farewell message printed at the back of The Whole Earth Catalogue’s final issue: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

I would follow that from now on. I’d stay hungry for more experiences and lessons; as long as there’s a space in me that waits to be filled, I wouldn’t hesitate to move. There’s an adage about being easily satisfied, but being too comfortable would be detrimental to learning and improving, which is human beings’ never-ending lesson in life. And I’d stay foolish, because believing I already knew a lot would just deter me from absorbing the things I’d really need. I still have a long way to go.

To end this post, I put here the video from Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, narrated by Steve Jobs himself. In many ways it’s connected to the two-sentence motto I just mentioned. Here it is, along with the transcript:


“Think Different” TV Spot
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. 
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Losing you, indeed, was very much akin to being robbed. Half a decade and six years was still too short, we know you could still give a lot to the world! More gizmos and gadgets, more stories to inspire more generations. But it all has to end, hasn't it? I offer a little prayer for your soul. Rest in peace, Mr. Steve Jobs. As lots of other netizens have said (and excuse me for the bad pun) you really did a great Job(s).

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Official Stills

Here’s a couple of recently released stills from the movie adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, based on the popular novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky. I saw them floating around Tumblr.

Charlie and Sam

On the Set

I heard that the movie would be rated PG13, meaning  they “dulled” it down a bit—not so much about the drugs and sex. The book wasn’t exactly graphic, but those issues are quite significant to the story, IMO. Or at least to Charlie’s character development throughout the story. Not that I’m ranting. But then again, I also heard that Chbosky himself is writing/directing the film, so I wouldn’t really worry about it getting screwed up. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Accepting Love?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (doodle)

This is said by Bill, Charlie’s teacher from the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I didn’t readily agree with it the first time I read it. “Sometimes people don’t accept the love that they don’t want,” I argued. “Yes. They reject because they don’t want you in their life, and that’s the sheer truth.” (Geez, I think Holden Caulfield’s really rubbing off on me!)

But then I realized…maybe people don’t want somebody’s love because they actually don’t deserve it. It can be possible, right? Perhaps it has something to do with reciprocation—or the lack thereof, hence the guilt. The quote can refer to different kinds of love without the book’s context, but I’m beginning to think it’s the subconscious reality in any kind of love.

I’m still thinking about it, to be honest. It’s amazing how so simple a sentence can keep me occupied for a long time. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Genre: Young Adult
My Rating: ★★★★ (3.8 stars)


tumblr_lshdgsC7D91qav9ywo1_500
Dear friend,

I just finished rereading Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflowerlast week, and I’m glad to say that my opinion on it from the first time I read it didn’t change—it’s still the 90’s classic bildungsroman that has always  tugged at my heartstrings.

Trudging in the footsteps of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the book revolves around Charlie, a teenage freshman in 1991. For me he’s a walking contradiction, a different kind of antihero who has an archetypal martyr beneath his façade. Timid, intelligent, insightful yet socially awkward, Charlie often chooses to sit on the sidelines and watch the world do its complicated dance. But one thing he realizes throughout his first year in high school is that although the vantage point from the fringes is delightfully unique, there is nothing quite like getting a little dizzy while spinning in the dance floor with his friends.

In a nutshell, it’s all about learning the dips, the skips, and the twirls of a dance called “growing up.”

The foundation of the book’s main strength is in the format. Charlie tells his story in a collection of letters as intimate as diary entries, which he sends to an anonymous recipient he calls a “friend”. It’s a blatant technique Chbosky used so he could easily draw the readers into Charlie’s world and make them feel like they’re an official part of it. When Chbosky finished laying out the bricks of the foundation, he cements it by choosing a compelling and extremely relatable narrator.  The simple combination is effective, because more than once I felt a subtle urge to actually write back to Charlie. I felt like I belong in his world, an anonymous confidante. The book’s main goal, which is to be able to form a link with the readers, is achieved.

The plain writing style lies in stark contrast with the complex and heavy themes the book deals with. Drugs, teenage pregnancy, sexuality, depression, suicide, domestic violence—you name it, Perks has it. At first I thought Chbosky is trying to cram every tough issue that most teens face up to this day, but I soon loosened up when the author realistically tackles each, especially the ones that resonate in Charlie’s psyche. To balance the theme-beam, Charlie’s light and somewhat peculiar voice peppers the narration with the right amount of humor.

I became drawn to Charlie’s fascinating world for a time, magnetized by the family issues, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the music strewn throughout the story (I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, but his circle of friends resemble mine in some aspects). Once again, as in most young adult books, the complexity of any kind of relationship is touched. I like how Chbosky executed it with sheer simplicity. The ‘twist’ at the end was a loud epiphany bomb for both Charlie and the reader.

While Perks may not be the best coming-of-age book that I’ve read, it certainly earned its special space in my shelf and in my heart. You may want to try it too!

Love always,
Airiz

6 Things I’m Most Excited to See in Perks: The Movie Adaptation

EMMA WATSON perksYes, that’s Emma Watson reading Perks!


The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky’s debut novel, was published in 1999. I read it the first time last year in ebook format, with an additional prize of an eye-ache from the glaring computer monitor. Now I picked it up in paperback for my reread sessions (a part of my Banned Books Week special) and I have to say it kind of renewed my love for it.

The bigscreen adaptation will be out in 2012, and I can hardly wait! Without further ado, here’s half-a-dozen fangirlish things I’m most excited to see in the upcoming flick:
  1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Lots of things to be excited about: Emma Watson playing Sam (Perks character) who is playing Janet Weiss (TRHPS character). And Ezra Miller playing Patrick who is playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter. And Logan Lerman playing Charlie who is playing Rocky. And so and so forth. The real treat is, we get to see bits of TRHPS brought to life by this generation’s most talented young actors. I’m excited!
  2. The I-Swear-We-Were-Infinite Moments. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: books are my friends but not my only friends. In that aspect I guess I can relate so much to Charlie. One of my sturdiest links to him is his road-trip moments with his friends—scenes where either Sam or Charlie is standing on the back of the speeding pick-up truck, with the perfect song playing in the background. Stephen Chbosky chose the right words for the feeling: infinite. I really wish they can translate the feeling well into the screen.
  3. The Flashbacks. In the book, Charlie has a way of presenting his early memories with extraordinary vividness by just using the simplest words. I want to see how they’ll work that out in the movie. I hope they can bring the little ‘twist’ at the end with a loud bang.
  4. The Soundtrack. More like hear. Perhaps they’ll just hand-pick a few tracks from Charlie’s many mixed tapes, but I wish they choose the majority from the mix Charlie made for Patrick. Tasteful choice of songs!
  5. Charlie (Logan Lerman) kissing half the cast. Ooooops sorry! Rabid Fangirl Slip! Haha!
  6. Sam and Patrick’s crazy dance. As seen in the video below. You guys, who can’t get excited by this??
Cast On The 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' Set dancing and being interviewed

Read Philippines

READ PHILIPPINES
From the site:
Read Philippines is a forum for Pinoy readers and booklovers to meet and talk about reading, reviews, shopping, hunting, collecting, trading, and even events about books! Whether you're an occasional reader or a marathon bookworm, or in Manila or somewhere else, there is nothing that every reader enjoys more than a good conversation about a book. So sign up, join a discussion or start one today!
I’ve only learned about RP after its Tumblr account (which I think is only used to contact people) messaged me, as well as after they commented on my review of The Catcher in the Rye:
Hi Airiz! We’re happy to let you know that we’ve included your blogs, Cinderella in Rubber Shoes, and Cinderella in Combat Boots, in the list of Pinoy book blogs at Read Philippines. com. We’d love to have you join our fast-growing community of Pinoy readers!
As I type this, I still haven’t joined the forum, but I’d register after I post and queue a few things at CIRS. Expanding my bookworm circle of friends—even virtually—sounds like more fun! I think I'm going to enjoy this!

Fourth Revisionist Oz!

It’s been a while since I last picked up any book by Gregory Maguire. My last was Son of a Witch. A flurry of other books snagged my attention from Maguire’s revisionist Oz, so even if A Lion Among Men was released in paperback, I wasn’t able to pick it up.

I’m currently on a rereading streak (The Perks of Being a Wallflower after The Catcher in the Rye), but I promise that after I’ve finished my un-read stack on the bedside table, I’d really go hunt for the remaining books of the Wicked Years series. Only recently did I learn that WY is a quadrology! Here are the four books (with all the amazing artsy covers) as cross-posted from Tumblr:

12
34
RE-IMAGINED OZ: Gregory Maguire’s Wicked Years series is a set of fantasy novels that provide a lot of revisionist background stories for L. Frank Baum’sThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • Wicked follows the events in the life of Elphaba, the green-skinned “wicked witch” of the west, told from pre-Dorothy time up to the day of her death. The story mostly tackles the issue of the nature of good and evil.
  • Son of a Witch is a detailed account on the life of Lirr, Elphaba’s son, after the witch’s happy-never-after. One of the story’s recurring theme is the search for identity and how not everyone can—or willing to—pay the price of riding a famous parent’s coattails.
  • A Lion Among Men is about Brrr, the Cowardly Lion that Elphaba once saved when he’s still a cub (I haven’t read this one yet, but I hope it’s good).
  • Out of Oz is the conclusion of the series—to be released on November 1—and is about Rain, Elphaba’s green-skinned granddaughter that was born on the final chapter of Son of a Witch. I heard Dorothy’s dropping in again. :p

Monday, October 3, 2011

Appreciated

I won’t deny it—one of the many reasons I love Tumblr is that a lot of people there are appreciative. Book-blogging is a blissful hobby for me. I read lots of books in my free time, and I then I talk about it in my reviews. Engaging in interesting conversations with people who are practically on the other side of the globe is invigorating.

My posts at Cinderella in Rubber Shoes are comprised mostly of opinions (which were sometimes peppered with spazzing) about literature. I have a creative writing section there, but my poems and short stories usually go here at blogspot. I remembered, though, that in my earliest days at that site—when my Tumblr url doesn't concern any fairytale character—I did post some of my works.

One of them is Weddings and Funerals. Originally, it’s a fanfiction I penned for Gundam Wing, and it was inspired by an extremely catchy albeit morbid song by a favorite musician. I wrote it at Tumblr just for kicks, and if ever it was read by anyone there, I was never able to know…until recently, when a question about my writing popped up in the middle of questions about my reading:

MLYNN2
She practically summarized it! It’s not the best of my stories, but it’s one of the firsts that were applauded by people I don’t know personally (hint: FFNet). I rummaged in my archives for the story, but for some reason it was nowhere to be found. So I what I did is I tweaked the draft I have at my desktop and then reposted it. I gave m---lynn a heads up when I was done.

MLYNN
Trying to show it to a friend. :) It really made my night when I read this.

And this is not all. I thought of checking the Imaginaccion tag, because maybe I’d see the older version of Weddings and Funerals there (yes, it was included in our folio). Most of the posts with that tag was mine and Deb’s…and then there was this post:

yay
After quickly scrutinizing her profile, I learned that she was from Mapua—by what means she got this folio, I’d never know. I dropped a small thanks in her AskBox, and I hoped it didn’t sound like I didn’t appreciate that she liked my work (and that I’m one of her favorite bloggers—imagine that!) . When people complement me, I don’t really know how to respond aside from letting a string of thank-yous and I-appreciate-its escape my mouth. Sometimes I feel as if they think I’m not that appreciative or really grateful. XD But I am! I just don’t feel the need to do something akin to jumping like I’d won the lottery or something.

Anyway, I’ll reiterate: having people who like what I create is not the main reason why I love Tumblr. It’s all about the sharing, about the connection you make even if you can’t see each other’s faces personally, about the conversations that make you think you’re kindred souls. It’s about how you inspire people without trying hard to do so, inspiring them by just doing what you makes you happy. Most of the time, they inspire you back. Take my word.

Really, it’s all about the overwhelming feeling you can get from the whole thing.

I have to admit I receive quite a lot of posts like this on my TumblrAsk. Mostly it’s about their overall thought about my book-blog. I guess it’s safe to say that judging by the way they are liking and reblogging my reviews (and rants and ramblings and raves), they approve of my writing the same way they may like give opinions embedded in the entries a thumb up. It’s just it’s really different when it’s your own story, you know? The characters, the setting and situations—all yours, and they like it. Love it, even. The feeling you get when someone marvels at the worlds that you can proudly call your brainchildren—it's simply ineffable.

That’s why I continue writing short stories, poems, and fanfictions. I have a lot of blog updates about real-life happenings too, but there’s this one little voice in my head that says I could squeeze more creative juices onto the paper (or blank screen) when I’m doing something more “literary,” if you know what I mean. As much as possible when I’m doing some RL diary-like entries, I write them the same way I may write a story.

The road for being a writer stretches ahead of me; I still have a long way to travel. When I’m feeling a little lost or misguided, a little cheer from people who observe my progress can fuel me to go on and continue my journey—that, and God’s ever-present helping hand. :)