Start at Go

13 01 2010

I’m Filipina. That means that, because of cultural inheritance, puns often come out of my mouth or into my writing unexpectedly. Sometimes they’re cheesy, sometimes funny and cool. I don’t know if the title of this blog is cheesy or not, but it works for me, because that’s exactly what this blog is about: writing as a practice, a path, a way of life.

I’ve been writing for as long as I remember. I recall being no more than five or six years old and using my Uncle Art’s onion-skin-like, white bond typing paper to write little stories and draw pictures to go along with them. My stories, I think, described the subtle nuances of eating Cap ‘N’ Crunch cereal and Oreos. I guess I must’ve had the adage, “Write what you know” hard-wired into my brain even at that tender age.

Some of my most poignant memories and transformative moments in life have occurred because of my writing. I remember when I was in seventh grade and Mrs. Delianides (or Mrs. D as we called her), my teacher at Good Shepherd Elementary School in Pacifica, Calif. asked each of us to write an essay about what we thought of the recent bombing of Libya by U.S. fighterplanes. Then some of us would be asked to read our essays afterwards. I had always been a teacher’s pet, and Mrs. D had fallen pretty deeply under my brainiac spell. So of course she asked me to get up and read my essay first.

Now, mind you, the sleepy beach town of Pacifica and Good Shepherd School in particular, despite their proximity to the liberal bastion of San Francisco, were fairly conservative, and a little strange. Just to give you a sense: the funeral mass for Dan White, the man who murdered gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, then later committed suicide in his jail cell, was held at Good Shepherd Church.

Back to my essay. I’d read about the bombing in the newspaper (yes, I was a big nerd in seventh grade) and argued with my step-father about it after watching the news. I thought it was a terrible thing, very unjust. So I got up to read my essay, with a prideful flurry bubbling up in my chest at being chosen to read first (being teacher’s pet does that to you), and probably even cleared my throat as I stood in front of my thirty-odd seventh grade classmates. Then I started:

“I think it was wrong for the United States to bomb Libya.” And instead of being welcomed by the hushed, respectful silence that I was so accustomed to during my nerdy essay-readings, I was immediately greeted with more than a few outraged “What!”s and “No way!”s from my more conservative classmates. I was crestfallen, wondering what I had said wrong, and paused for a micro-second to collect myself before continuing. Mrs. D. made everyone hush, of course, but I couldn’t help but thinking when I finished and sat down that this writing thing might actually be something powerful and strange. I found more proof of this when, later, as we exited the room for recess, my classmate Lou came up to me and said, “I thought what you said at first was wrong, but I didn’t know that the planes had killed Qaddafi’s baby. That’s pretty messed up.” Score one for my burgeoning career as a lefty propagandist!

Since then, and in recent years, writing has gotten both more difficult and easier for me. I have written for a living in many ways as a fundraiser–writing grant proposals and reports, direct mail appeals, newsletter articles, web site copy. But the writing I’m most interested in doing, and doing well, is very different, and often more difficult: short stories, creative nonfiction articles, books and essays that can once again prove to me (and hopefully others) that the pen IS mightier than the sword.

So I’ll be posting my musings on the events, people, practices and challenges I encounter on this often lonely, sometimes joyous, and always surprising path I’ve chosen: to be(come) a writer, and to write my way through life. My hope is to uncover some Truths along the way, and to share them with you, and anyone else who’ll listen. Welcome.

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2 responses

25 01 2010
Sujatha

Love your blog. Read every posting right to the end and am going to be forwarding it to a bunch of folks. Thank you for sharing this journey with others. I’m feeling inspired to put pen to paper for non-grant writing reasons.

2 02 2010
Eve Siegel

Hi Rona– How great to read about some of the details of you getting your writer’s life together– & how that impacts the whole of your life! Plus getting to know more about your background & the paths that have brought you to this joyous, challenging, & opening space that you’re exploring now. Thanks so much for opening your body, heart & mind to us, your readers, as you go forth & create the path of your desire now.

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