My Evolution as a Writer

So I finally found out what “Remove formatting” could do, so this is now much more readable. I have also done some editing and have updated the thing. Do share your own story. I’m sure you have one 🙂

The End Justifies the Journey

NOTE: I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been curious about how writers started. Well, here is my story, if you’re interested. I thought I’d start with this post (well, technically, this is the second post…) as it’s a good introductory of myself as a writer.

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female-writer-typing


I have always loved stories, that is the clear and honest truth. It is the reason why I began to write. It is the reason why even in my own dreams, I make up stories and watch how they unfold. Perhaps, more than a writer, I am actually a pen-toting storyteller. But it wasn’t always like that. When I was small, I used to have this ritual. At night, I would lie in bed and imagine stories in my head, stories of adventure and drama—oh, I was such a masochist, making myself cry and loving it!—until I fell asleep. Which is probably…

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I’m a ‘JoCKs’

NOTE: As Multiply is ceasing to be a social media for bloggers, I’m one of those scrambling to move my stuff from there. This post that is a sort of trip back to college memory lane was posted in 2008 so this isn’t really that recent. Please allow me to self-indulge in this whim of going the nostalgic route. As for the title, don’t worry, no problem with the grammar. It was a bit of an inside joke…Still taking care of links and please bear with the layout.

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UPLB's Very Own College Radio

Our work of art. Each Jock got a part of this “puzzle”. Mine’s that one with cut-outs of music artists, the upper part of 7 and part of 4. It was posted along the wall of then-IDC’s 2/F corridor leading to the broadcast booths.

“You won’t pass for a DJ.” That’s what someone told me in jest recently. I half-joked, “But I am!” Well, of course, I’m not. You don’t have to put two and two together to know that I’m not a DJ. Except that years ago, I actually was one. 

When I heard that, I suddenly missed those good ol’ days again. I’ve been reminiscing for years, but lately, I’ve been missing it more. That’s ’cause I’ve also lately been communicating again with more co-DJs, people with weird and fun names like Master Raven, Jenny Glitch (or simply Glitch in later years), Shades and RainDanz. Add the fact that I’ve found the Multiply account of the new JoCKs. And the reason why I was looking for and playing certain songs in the first place was because I was missing what I loved playing on air.

Once upon a time, I was Sandra Dee, fondly called — well, I hope fondly — Sands. Sometimes, Dee. Why the name was simple: I had to think of a girlie name (a requirement I gave myself) and I remembered that that was what the character Rizzo called the character Sandy in one of the songs in Grease. Back then I had no idea that an actual blonde singer bearing the name lived decades ago. I just liked the sound of it. My alternative name was the famous Les Miserables‘ Eponine, but many people not familiar with Broadway would still have had a hard time pronouncing it and relating to her. So “Sandra Dee” it was.
Sandra Dee doing boardwork

As “Sandra Dee,” I got to fulfill one of my dreams,…

Sandra Dee doing boardwork 2

…and I  also experienced a different kind of music therapy that really helped me through a family crisis that time

Those two-and-a-half years at DZLB-FM College Radio were some of the best times ever in my life. There were some problems at the start, but overall, it was one great experience! Honestly, I don’t even know how or where I got the guts to audition to be one of the “jocks”. I wasn’t the type to actually join extra-curricular activities (except volleyball) because I was, in truth, a shy, insecure soul (sometimes I still am). Though I got the guts to try out for the paper, The UPLB Perspective (P’), being a DJ was something I didn’t think I could do. I mean, really, weren’t DJs regarded, well, like semi-celebrities? I didn’t know if I wanted even the semi-attention. Gave me the shivers. But it had been a dream since gradeschool, moreso in high school when an about-to-be-famous childhood friend practically was. Who knew I would be one, too, and more than I thought I could be?
Me before joining the UPLB Jocks

Before auditioning to become a Student DJ, I first co-hosted our school paper’s radio program, PANANAW with fellow writer “Trebz” (beside me, forgive my fashion sense). Others, from left: (standing) “Johnny Angel,” “Master Raven,” “Big John” and (sitting) “Prof. Hook”

I guess I got in because I was a bit confident at that time. I got good comments before regarding my live broadcasts that were part of a subject, and the console we manipulated at the Student’s Booth had been my practice tool for several semesters even though I was not a broadcasting major (long story, but thanks to Mang Dex). Also, P’ had a 30-minute long program, Pananaw, hosted by myself and fellow student-journalist Trebz (later hosted by him and other writers Dazzie and Gela while I did the boardwork instead. Much later, it was renamed Tinig Kampus and hosted by an older batch of P’ alumni)…I knew that I wouldn’t be a DJ if I didn’t at least try.     

Back then, we already prided ourselves as at par with the professional DJs in terms of skills. Truthfully, it’s not even hard work though effort was needed. Our only differences with the professionals were (1) we were students who didn’t get paid (but got free tickets, entrance, freebies), as it was voluntary work although we did go through auditions, (2) our station was, and still is, non-commercial with quite a smaller area covered, (3) our PSAs (Public Service Announcements) were local news and we featured local (UPLB) groups/bands, and (4) the JoCKs could choose anything they wanted to play no matter how old or new as long as they followed the themes of the programs they were handling and followed broadcasting ethics (which the “professional” stations are sadly lacking these days).

We got more training as well as we got to learn new skills and explore. We owe a lot to Prof. Hook, CJ Andrews and the other AM band hosts who were our instructors as well.We were made to handle the broadcast console ourselves and answer calls, unlike in some stations. Some like Pepper and I did the Mid-Hour News (that I mostly wrote and gathered during our time until a fresher batch arrived). In addition, there were those lucky, non-broadcasting students like myself who got to experience broadcasting stuff further. I wrote, arranged, mixed and produced plugs (or commercials, but ours were often announcements and spoofs, no popular ads). I got to be a voice talent as well. I remember Gina, a character I played (with Shades, Leuvert and Denise, if I’m not mistaken) for a series of audio recordings produced by the then Institute of Development Communication and the Letran Foundation. It was used, I think, to teach Biology or Science to high school students…I wasn’t that good at it then, both in voice and technique, not that a lot has changed. I got to produce shows like Shades’ program which I co-produced at the start with Raven and which title escapes me. I certainly can’t remember most of the steps on how to create those stuff, but I got a kick out of it. They probably use the same technologies still yet but really, they’re old-fashioned stuff. Great for basic training, though. 

I made sure I got to do everything, even handle various types of programs–dance, mushy, talk, rock, jazz, OPM…The only one I never handled, I think, was the religious show, PTL…My faves were the Rush Hour where we got to play dance, reggae, hiphop, R&B and rap (yep, that’s part of my personality), my baby Pinoy Musiconnection, and the wacky talk show The Hotseat (formerly Top 40 Overtalk) co-hosted with  Raven and Vahid. The last show was first named such after the show before it, the Top 80s Overdrive. My creating and mixing started as a revenge against Raven who created a plug about me that started with ” ‘S’…Sultry…Sexy…Sandra Dee…” So I created something for him in return and I think that was one of my best-ever done plugs: 
Sample: Master raven plug

Quite something like that. Thanks to him some people thought I was tall and long-legged. Well, at least that’s what he said and I have the cassette tape of an “episode” of the talk show to prove it! (cassette tape? how…modern…he he he)

College Radio first media ID

Sample of College Radio first media ID

So many memories! I miss playing the music loud on the monitor and/or the headset. I miss bobbing my head and moving my upper body to the rhythms while I prepared the next songs–a mannerism my co-JoCKs took notice of. Can’t say I’ve outgrown it.

I miss jumping up and down in the booth because the air-conditioning seemed icy cold and the people having classes at the Drama Studio adjacent to the booth (with a large transparent window in-between) were gawking, wondering what the heck was up with me.

College Radio second media ID

Sample of College Radio second media ID

I miss hanging out at the DZLB Library not  realizing that I was fast-turning into a walking music library because I knew where and what many songs were, from the old vinyl records–LPs and 45s–to the CDs that the record studios regularly donated in good faith. You can just ask the librarian, Tita Nitz, the truth in what I’m saying…Good thing we were not commercial; it gave us more freedom to choose what we wanted in our playlists and saved us from the dictates of the record outfits. We only had to make sure to censor the bad words in the songs, if any. I handled the program featuring OPMs (original Pilipino music songs), accepted requests and played what were popular even if they were not my cup of tea. But there were lines that were drawn. There had to be. For my own kahihiyan. There was an unwritten rule: “Avoid playing baduy stuff.” (Now for my own protection, just don’t ask what constitutes “baduy”.)

I miss staying at the Master Studio where I learned to mix plugs (technician Mang Frank let the Jocks learn; Mang Egay and Mang Rene were the strict ones…but don’t tell them I said that and please, go easy on Mang Frank) and where Vahid said, “I wonder what this is for,” pulled an actual plug and, OOPS! DEAD AIR!  (LOL!!!!!!!!!!!) Speaking of Vahid, I miss hearing what we called “Vahid Jokes”!

I miss staying in the broadcast booth and actually being the one to end the night’s broadcast by playing the last songs namely the College Radio Station ID extro and the national anthem ‘Lupang Hinirang’.

I miss doing the boardwork as Baby Boomers Sir (Sandy) Flor and Sir Bong (Faustino)  discussed the “olden days and golden songs”.

DZLB FM shirt and jacket

I still have these stuff, the first-ever College Radio shirt and jacket (front and back)

I miss announcing the station’s telephone number which we said was my vital stats. Of course, it was a deliberate attempt to mislead listeners into thinking I actually had a 36-24-33 figure!

I miss the weird handshake started by Joey for fun. The group sealed their brotherhood and sisterhood by creating the UPLB JoCKs and, thankfully and finally after several semesters, having it formally recognized as the official organization of the student JoCKs. 

Lastly, I miss the unseen ghosts while Mang Frank left the whole station–no, whole building!–to me so he could eat his dinner or whatever. Of course, I miss the JoCKs who became my friends, that’s already a given. 

Being a Jock was one of my best achievements, not professionally, but, I guess the word should be “personally”? It became a sort of therapy for me. When I began, it was just months after my father fell sick due to mild stroke. It kept my mind off the problems and made me enjoy life. Music is definitely therapeutic!
Well, now that I’m not anymore a DJ, I miss it so terribly. Heck, I even miss the callers who deliberately said the wrong stations on air and obsessed station fans! Well, fan, anyway, as far as I know. But we always have to move on. I’m really happy to simply reminisce and leave the boardwork to younger and, I’m sure, better jocks. Keep it up, guys!
College Radio stuff

Photos, from left, clockwise: (1) closer look at one of College Radio 97.4’s first logos (2) last year’s shot of my DZLB FM cap that still survives, kind of faded in some parts but still cool (3) close-up shot of design showing the DZLB FM mascot (4) shot of the cap’s side showing off sewn image of an old-fashioned mic (5) my airname sewn at top of a pocket of the personalized jackets (names depended on individuals, of course) we had especially made and where #’s 1 and 3 are also sewn (6) just another fun shot

My Evolution as a Writer

NOTE: I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been curious about how writers started. Well, here is my story, if you’re interested. I thought I’d start with this post (well, technically, this is the second post…) as it’s a good introduction of myself as a writer.

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female-writer-typing

 

I have always loved stories, that is the clear and honest truth. It is the reason why I began to write. It is the reason why even in my own dreams, I make up stories and watch how they unfold. Perhaps, more than a writer, I am actually a pen-toting storyteller. But it wasn’t always like that. When I was small, I used to have this ritual. At night, I would lie in bed and imagine stories in my head, stories of adventure and drama—oh, I was such a masochist, making myself cry and loving it!—until I fell asleep. Which is probably why they made it  in  my dreams. I don’t daydream anymore, but I can’t say I don’t dream of movies still. And in colors!

I started with writing, though, by writing literally. In school, we had handwriting exercises and we tried to write legibly, neatly and nicely. My penmanship still leaves much to be desired, but no matter. I know I enjoyed writing, enjoyed the letters perhaps because they presented to me a whole lot of possibilities. I felt liberated for some reason. That was during second grade. The next year, I wrote my first story.

See below for individual credits

Well, technically first. It was about a horror story writer who was no good in his so-called craft and couldn’t get published until he unwittingly sold his soul to the devil. Things then went really well, except the devil made him pay for his part of the bargain in the end.

Would’ve been quite an interesting piece from such a novice writer if only it was not a story I read from one of the Tagalog (a Filipino dialect) comic books that were already near extinction back then. My version ironically made my parents (and me) laugh. So much for horror. Just imagine a story ending with the word “typewriting” — that should kill the story, ha ha!

I really enjoyed writing exercises in grade school especially when we had to summarize stories that we were made to read. I may have misconstrued summary as re-telling, though. But I did write my first stories within the next years.

I was still quite “un-well-versed” and not sure how to go about creative writing properly, so my early works were in script form written on extra notebook sheets. That was probably because I was too impatient and wanted to do it fast, and I loved reading the short plays found in our textbooks. I also loved to watch TV that my first stuff had characters from a well-known sentai (Japanese live action shows for kids) and those from a local action-comedy movie intended for teens and pre-teens. My own plots, but the characters were not my own. There is a term for that now: fan fiction.

Seems like I have always been partial to adventure, be it action or fantasy. My road to the world of adventures got temporarily sidetracked, however, when I entered high school. You know high school, it exposes you to crushes and drama. Soon enough, I was writing romantic dialogues, words that I thought I fully understood. No more fan fiction. However, my plots were shallow, trying-hard-to-be-mature, and unoriginal, culled unintentionally from TV and movies. I did find a technique, which was to “have” actors “act” in my stories as I imagined them.

Despite that foray into pretentious writing (by “pretentious,” I am referring to my own writing), high school actually brought me to newer heights. I started my first non-fan fiction (supposedly) action-adventure, a detective story called Ticay where a young girl was a secret agent. My father happened to see that one though I wasn’t sure how much he got to read. He mentioned it to me because I think he saw what little of the draft I wrote when I decided to throw it away. After the horror-thingy, I had not let my family read my stuff.

Meanwhile, I wrote my first poems then, which made me think deeper about things and study myself more. I was uncomfortable about writing poetry before simply because I thought poetry was only for smart people. I realized that it was more for people to understand themselves and the world. Around this time, I began composing and experimenting with songs as well, themes ranging from friendship, social relevance and, what else? Love, or the lack of it. Still, storytelling was/is my first love and it was swell getting some kind of recognition as a writer. I was soon given tasks to write scripts for group and class presentations. That started when a friend volunteered for me when our Literature teacher asked, “Okay, who will write the scripts?” The wheels started turning.

sweet-dreams-ps-iloveyou

High school was really the highlight of my writing “career” and I somehow had Bantam Books’ Sweet Dreams (S.D.) to thank for. Even back in gradeschool, and I knew this because of my big sister, the old S.D. was still the romance book of choice for teens. The same was  somewhat still true when I got to that stage. I began to dream of being a novelist and S.D. fanned this desire in me because, aside from I loved to write, I realized one thing: the endings were mostly so predictable. In fact, you could guess the stories based on what were written at the back alone. I thought, hey, if they could do it, so could I!

I would write my own S.D.-like stories and hopefully submit to them. So I did write (though not submit mainly because I had no idea how). I believed in the idea so much that I created my own series called Roseville Books and it even had its own simple logo. In a span of a little more than a year, I wrote seven—I repeat, SEVEN—novelettes! Wow…I had never been so inspired, so prolific in my entire life, ever! It was a feat that I unfortunately have not been able to duplicate. I laugh now when I re-read them, but that stage was still good training ground for me, judging from how my characters and plots grew with more depth and maturity.

Too bad I became busy with school that my eighth Roseville book, as well as some other stories that were mostly SciFi (my friend Raine and I were obsessing over Star Trek then)  were left unfinished. College life then started and everything seemed to be in boring, uninspiring slow motion. I was able to write a few songs and poems, but not short stories, or the eighth Roseville Book, or the unfinished novel called King Arthur’s Daughter. All I had were all drafts that kept accumulating and lists of fictitious names.

uplb-perspective

When I joined the school paper, it was only then did I get to concentrate again on short stories/vignettes. Campus journalism was a whole new ball game and I had to dabble in-between creative and journalistic writing. It seemed that writing became an evolution for me. My Development Communication degree taught me to write for various media, including for radio. I found that though there are obvious differences in the technical aspects, there are not much differences when you write for film, radio, and other stuff. Only a few adjustments and change or additional terminologies to consider.

These knowledge gained were particularly of use to me when I worked for a tertiary school as scriptwriter-producer of (mostly) their institutional videos. I also had the privilege to join a writing-for-film workshop under the great Armando “Bing” Lao. Who would have thought that story-writing could be scientific as well? Honing my chosen craft and wishing to learn further, I joined several writing groups and blogs online. Meanwhile, while these were going on, my dream of becoming a published writer was not diminished. This dream was realized when I joined The Big C magazine team where I became the editorial assistant and staff writer. I not only wrote, edited and proofread, but got to learn more about cancer that I could ever imagine.

Still, the “novel idea” is yet to see fruition, an idea I’ve had before I finished school. It is said that we should write what we know. And so I try to find more information as much I can to make it work. I did use to stress over it, but now, I try to take it in stride. Stress does not solve anything and if I die without ever publishing any book, so be it. Meanwhile, I try to finish a whole lot more in my collection of unfinished “business.”

bigc-magazine

Copyright © The Core Group Publishing, Inc. Unfortunately, I heard they folded up so the dotcom of the magazine is no more. The Tripod account was the first and reeeaally old one that was there even before I joined the publication

Currently, I write content for the web. For those unfamiliar with the actual meaning of “web content  writer,” the job mainly entails writing articles and information you read from businesses’ websites and blogs. For instance, if you were new to WordPress and would like to know what it’s all about and how you should go about things, you go to WordPress.com and the information they provide have been written by their web content writers, not any random writer or blogger who simply wants to write about WordPress.

I still love fantasy, suspense and adventure, with my interests lying on psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, psychoses, the paranormal, forensic science and other things that boggle the mind. I will never stop writing. Take a hiatus every now and then, perhaps, but never really leave it.

Fiction, essays, poems, songs—they all have their stories. It is just a matter of knowing how and what to write.

Comic book images in collage credited to/found in:

Komiklopedia (for Tagalog Klasiks)

ComicBookMovie.com (for Pilipino Komiks)

Video48 (for the ff.: Hiwaga Komiks, Espesyal Komiks, Extra Komiks)

en.wikipilipinas.org (for Universal Komiks-Magazine and Halakhak Komiks)

 

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So that’s how this writer evolved. How about you? What is your writer’s story? Let us know. Let’s exchange stories 🙂