So far, my inclusion in the third installment of Ladlad has been the highest point of my career as a published writer. I like to say that I have written 2 short story collections, 2 novellas, and poems for at least 4 books. Well, it’s true. But are they worth publishing? I’m not sure. I tend to be very self-critical, especially with my poems.
In the late 90s, a lot of my poems have seen publication in magazines like the Free Press, the Graphic, and the Sunday Inquirer Magazine. I remember my joy when I got published for the first time–on the Free Press, no less. I bought as many copies as my money allowed; I even sent a copy to my grandmother who was living in the States. That same joy didn’t dissipate on the second time, the third, and so on.
I was in Cambodia when Ladlad 3 came out in 2007, so I had to relish my joy from a distance. I missed joining its launch and other promotional activities. And when I returned to Manila I was afraid of trying to get published again because, I have to admit, I had no new material other than a few poems and blog posts that were–at best–vaguely literary. So I looked at what I had written and read them again, discovering how much the person who wrote those stories had changed through the years. I found myself unable to write in florid phrases–which could be a good thing, who knows? Long and short of it, I found myself editing my existing works.
It took me a few months to muster enough courage to submit a couple of my stories for publication. I knew both editors of the magazine–having gone with them in the 1995 UP Writers’ Workshop–though I know this hardly mattered. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t remember me at all; such is my absence from the writing community.
But I was pleasantly surprised when my story got published in the Free Press. Unfortunately, these days, this prestigious magazine only exists in the internet. But hey, it’s the Free Press! *If you want to read it, it’s HERE–just ignore the malware alert (it’s not real!)
This story is connected to the story that I sent to the Graphic. A minor character in ‘Walking on Water’ is a prominent character in ‘The Rise in Falling’. I hadn’t planned this; I wrote the latter in 1998 while the former was written around 2001. It’s not that I had run out of characters. But would you believe me if I said that the character wrote itself into the story? I submitted the stories at the same time, wondering if I can pull it off–getting these connected stories published at the same time.
Nope, it didn’t happen. I had to wait for the Graphic. I got my answer two months later, when ‘The Rise in Falling’ appeared on the first two issues of the Graphic for this month. Two issues. My story exceeded the space in the magazine! OMG! I’m not sure if this is good or bad– but still, thanks a lot for publishing my story! It means a lot to me.
Now, what do I do with my poems? Hmn…