Writing Journey: Patience and Expenses

Writing Journey: Patience and Expenses

            Today, I entered the Carlos Palanca Literature competition. The Don Carlos Palanca is considered the most prestigious literary event here in the Philippines. I’ve been targeting this `event` for a long time now and it’s opening of novel category, which only happened every two years. I was supposed to join it last time, but I learned it passed the deadline. I also don’t think the novel I supposedly plan to enter would be qualified or even considered.

            Anyway, I just want to rant and log in what happened. The novel that I submitted had only passed three rounds of editing and revision in my side from Chapter 1 to the last Chapter. It’s the least revision I’ve done. One novel I’ve given up a long time ago had gone more than fifteen. I think it is the novel I was supposed to enter two years ago but because of the deadline, I didn’t submit. So that book has more editing time spent over the one I just submitted.

And before the book I just passed, I’ve written a finished novel, intending it to be the one in the Palanca. It had gone a read through and `editing along the way` but I decided it’s not the best one to be submitted. I needed more scientific research for it. I gave that up and wrote Flight of Eagles last December, 2018. January came and I revisited it. February came then March, where I opened it again.

            This is where my flaws as a writer comes. I don’t like researching events. I want to be published and I’ve been writing every day but for months…Okay. I’m guilty. But for a year now I haven’t reach out to an agent or a publisher. I did join the PitchWars last year because it’s easy. Anyway, the reason I’m adding it here is because I ALMOST MISSED THE DEADLINE AGAIN!

            So, I made this novel. It’s been at the back of my head. It whispered for me to check the Palanca events. And I did check it—on February. They don’t have any updates yet at that time and I can vaguely remembered I checked it on March. Again, they don’t have any updates. So I just let the days go on and on.

            Until three days ago, I opened the Palanca and there it was. The deadline. May.31. I stared at it and thought the website was joking. The article was posted April. So they’re just basically giving everyone one month to write—for those who doesn’t know the Palanca. The thing is I was prepared. I know it was around May. But still.

            What is the best thing to do after learning the deadline? What is the most practical thing to do? I have a novel ready and it sure isn’t just a novel. There are synopsis, bio-data, entry-form to fill.

            Three days.

            What did I do?

            Hmm. Let me write a short story. Yes. It’s what I did. I don’t know if this is psychological problem with me, intentionally sabotaging myself.

            I did write a short story! And I finished it. Hey, I did get to finish it.

            Two days before the deadline.

            Hmm. What did I do?

            Let’s see.  Hmm.

            Just a short background. I am practicing Nofap. I haven’t opened porn for three months straight. I haven’t touch myself for about twenty-five days. So I was pure during this time.

            Two days after the deadline, when I don’t usually do this schedule, I opened porn. I binge watched it. Now, it gets me to thinking. What is wrong with me? This is what I wanted. I wanted to join. Why am I seemingly setting up myself for failure, unconsciously?

            And today, the grand day come. The day of the deadline! I like to be proud about myself for—actually—being ready for the Don Carlos Palanca. It passed three times of revisions in me. They just need a novel. So I am ready. I did not procrastinate.

            The problem is. I did. I feel the anxiety of cramming. I only had thirty minutes of sleep that time since I read Fates and Furies. I want to show you the amount of degredation I am doing to myself. Do I really need to read at 2 am when I know I have more things to do the next day? Do I really need to read? But I did read and so my sleeping time was cut.

I woke five am to check other requirements, assuming in my ignorant mind that they only needed the novel. What else do they need? The requirements showed many list!

            I was fast typing at five am, writing my Synopsis. I wake once a week on that time to write so nothing new. I wrote a one page synopsis.

            I wrote my bio-data.

            I get back to synopsis.

            Six am. I ate a banana and was out of the house. I rode the trike. I went to the `Market` There are computer shops there. All of them were closed. You see. I could have done this before today! On my defense. I did not print it yet because I want to read it again. Well, no time now. So I walked the cold morning to find a computer shop.

            For those of you who are living at first world countries, I know it’s not a problem for you. But in here, it’s a typical problem that we go outside to print our school activities to a computer shop. It’s something of a tradition. I’ve read many Twitts in Twitter, saying that we should print our novels before reading it and then edit it on paper and not on computer. I’ll have palpitate attacks at the thought of printing my epic fantasy with word count of 300k words. Anyway, so I found a computer shop that was opened. It was not air-conditioned. There were multiple printers on the top of three computers.

            There is only one attendant.

            He is over 70 years old just by his appearance.

            Again, the place is hot. The electric fan is blowing hot air. I’m not complaining. I’m just sharing the situation.

            The moment I approached him, I asked if I can print 207 pages. He agreed. I already have a feeling this will not go exactly right but I have no other options. I gave my USB. He charged me 6 pesos per page. I think he’s just randomly giving numbers. Anyway, he looked at it and saw it’s only black and white. So I was charged 5 pesos per page.

            We started. He mentioned something about rush. I didn’t really get it. I think he left his aesthetic teeth at a glass and just rolled over on the bed, raised the steel cover, intending to dolly, intending to go back to bed but finding me. I tried his offer of rush.

            The paper came out of the printer quickly. But then he showed me. Mind you. Grandpa is quick witted and fast for his age. He’s also talkative.

            The paper that he showed me has blur. So we have to try another method.

            The slow one.

            And this one is really slow.

            If you live in the Philippines and study around U-Belt, you know there are a lot of Xerox and computer shops for printing. I tried all of them. All of them are fast and productive.

            This printing place, well. Just as he offered. Slow.

            I stood there, watching the first paper of my 206 pages novel come out. I looked at the wall clock, ticking at 7:30 am. Deadline is 5:00.

            I told him I’m not in a rush. Because I’m not. I also have a hobby of underestimating deadlines as proven already. So I was still relax and sleepy.

            I sat and yawned. Grandpa decided to be productive and used the second printer available. So I’m using two printers that print slow papers, starting at the bottom of the page. Meaning whichever 1-55 or 56-99.

            So I grabbed 99 and put it at the bottom because if I don’t grab that, the arrangement of the printer will go like this. 206 at the top of the deck while page 1 at the bottom.  And since he has two printers, I have to take those papers. It wouldn’t have been like that if I didn’t volunteer to come over and help him. It would have been more chaotic if that happened.

            So my hands and my mind are working at the same time. Taking two papers, making two decks. Here is where it gets interesting.

            The printer malfunction. One page printed half of the page. I have to call that out. The printer has to be killed. Every pages have to adjust. I am highly alert all this time. And I’m really patient to old people so I’m not really complaining. It’s very me time for me. So I said this number was missing. We start again. That happened a lot of times.

            Other customers come. Dear Grandpa entertained them. Because why not? There are about five printers that are not working. Dead Grandpa is also a King of multitasking. So there was this people who wanted to take a 2×2 picture and he did that. So I’m left with the printing duty. Again, not really have a problem. I’m actually enjoying it. I just had a headache since I haven’t taken my coffee yet. I was planning to have it after printing. More people come. They needed to 2×2. So he did that and printed those pictures too, all the while looking after me.

            And mind you. Grandpa is sharp! I was prepared to remind him which page malfunction but he remembered it exactly. My only job is to organize the pages from 1-207.

            Eventually, we were able to finish it. Unfortunately, I am short on budget. Everything cost 1,000 pesos plus! That’s about 20$. And the expenses is just starting.

            This is where my heart starts to sink. Grandpa insists I bring the papers with me as he might not be there when he returned. So I bought the papers with me and ran away and submitted my paper without returning what I owe.

            Just kidding.

            I carried this 207 pages novel of mine at the heat and the traffic of Manila. I got to the ATM and withdrew. I took the money and walked back. I paid grandpa and thanked him.


            I have to Xerox them. It needed three copies for three judges. It’s one of the requirement. At this time, the other stores are already opened. I went to one. I told them to Xerox all of 207 pages. I got some violent reaction from the crowd. Usually, people who go here only Xerox 1-2 pages. But the length of the copies is not really a big deal. I’ve printed that same length in U-Belt. But they had multiple human size Xerox machines. These ones here are small.

            So I had to wait. Meanwhile, it’s GSW vs Raptors. I’m rooting for GSW.

            Eventually, I got my copies. I’m hungry. I’m very thirsty so I just gave them the cash.  The price of a Xerox is just 1 pesos only. I think, there print is 1 peso but we’re not going to dwell on regrets. I did my best at that moment. There are no open computer shops.  What can I do?

            Move on.

            Next, I walked to a Notary Office. The Entry Form has to be Notarized. I entered the office. Another payment. That cost me 200 pesos.  And my heart is shattered again.  My bank account is almost zero at this point so I’m nervous I’ll be scarce on money. Too near yet too far.

            I rode the FX. I walked to the mall. There’s still one important requirement.

            On my way there, there was a television. GSW v Raptors

            Raptors was ahead by ten points at the end of the second quarter. I continued just as those players are about to take a break. 3RD Quarter always belonged to Golden State Warriors. They proved it against Portland. Portland leads at the first half by double digit but GSW always catch up.

            The next important requirement is a USB or a DVD. Everything has to be digitized. So I asked around if they have less than 1gb USB. I asked for the cheaper USB. At this time, I was already having those dark thoughts.

I’m not even going to win. What’s the point?

Hmm. Let’s see how attach I am to this by giving it up. Did I teach myself to be detach from results? Let’s just stop this madness. It’s personal training for me.

I’m not going to win anyway.

I’m a loser.

Not me.

What’s the point of this/

Looking and looking for a cheap USB. Finding nothing.  Unfortunately, all of them are more than my intended budget.

            So with those doubts and voices louder than ever and a heavy heart, I dragged myself at the Foodcourt and opened my laptop. I used my 8gb USB. I deleted all of its content and replaced it with my submission. Damned. It didn’t even reach 1gb! The bar line is literally empty. I’m still feeling the ache of giving away my USB. 8Gb! Come on.

            So with everything done I went to Makati to submit my entry. I got lost a little and spend a lot of minutes walking around and asking directions. I arrived at 2:00 pm.

            The people there took my things. There are a little ruckus.  Because I have more than 600 pages. The requirement in the website was to put it all in 1 long brown envelope. So we talked and tried to find a solution. I don’t really know why we are all finding a solution.

            One old woman asked how many pages was my entry. I said about 206 for the novel. The old woman cringed as though it’s her first time to hear such a thing and it made me wonder.

            Carlos Palanca has entries for essays, short stories for adults and children, poetry. English and Filipino division and other Provincial languages. But novels are really long and it’s already short for me. Anyway, we settled with three long brown envelopes. I don’t really blame them since they are organizers. I went out again to look for a store. I bought another long brown envelopes and went back to the office. I put all my entries at the brown envelopes. Three copies of the novel with three synopsis each. Check. Check. Check. Check.

            Requirement completed.

            I stood there, feeling alone and drained. I think the emotional assault is attacking me now. My social anxiety is coming, stronger and I’m doing a great job at hiding it. Some people who would also join came. I wanted to talk to them but couldn’t. There are guards at the entrance fixing the door so I can’t go out. I had to stand there, feeling awkward and waiting for them. Eventually, I cleared my throat and they let me out. I could feel their resistance as they glared at me so I just squeeze myself at the tiny space and was out.

            I found the closest bench and sunk to it. My `receiving slip` is still at my hand. I don’t even have the strength to put it on my wallet. I held my bag on my lap and watched the people passed by. I just felt emotionally drained at that point. I sat there for a long time before I managed to move myself. Even though I felt gloomy and despair at that time, I know, that eventually, it will get up again. I just need sleep and food.

My main reflections:

-Patience. In writing this is very important. More than the effort you put in your writing, typing and mentally imagining something that was not real, you’ll need to have the patience for yourself and any situations. Technically, a lot of things can go wrong before, during, and after your submissions. I’m just lucky that patience is one of my character and it really pays off when I needed it.

-People heard this many, many, many times. Don’t bother to go to writing if you’re only after the money. You go to writing to spend. It’s never the other way around. I’ve always wanted to join some Writer’s Digest online lessons and competitions. But the thing is, I’m still to detached and isolated to know how internet payment works. I know. I’m an idiot. All it takes is figuring it out. As for the online courses. Well, there’s no way I can afford those.

-Be proactive. I’m not a proponent of social media. I have a personal Facebook and I rarely open that. As for Twitter, only about two times a week. I like a quiet life. And I think it was Neal Stephenson who advice writers to stay away from social media. It’s either writing or social media. And I still subscribed to it. Not because it’s needed, but social media is toxic, designed to trigger every possible trigger material you could ever think of. Sometimes, you just feel bad after scrolling down. But as the lesson state. Be proactive. This is important. I missed many writing events and activities I would love to join because I am not proactive. So it pays to open social media and learn.

-Be aware of your own self-sabotage. As I said from this article, I’ve been procrastinating reaching out to other writers and agents. I don’t know. Maybe, I’ve become accustomed to identifying myself as someone who writes and doesn’t have any physical friends who write and reaching out would connect me and break the identity of me as being alone. Or that maybe I’m afraid I will make it and I don’t know how to deal with that. My quiet life is already good. I’ve never intended to be publish from the start anyway. As for you, you may not be wanting to write because you’re trying to insist the label you give yourself, which is you’re not a writer and could never do it. What is it that you are afraid about when it happens?

-Writing requires patience and expenses. Without it, you’re done.

*Written as dated in the file: June. 01, 2019

Probably written May. 30 since the deadline for the Carlos Palanca was May.30.

Posted and retrieved from the documents vault: April. 07, 2020.