Clarion 2014

This is how much I’ve begun to obsess about Clarion

I’ve been wolfing down blog posts from previous Clarion grads, I’ve read Kate Wilhelm’s Storyteller, and I just got through Catherynne M. Valente’s latest story collection (review up soon). Been scouting around for more of the short fiction of my instructors-to-be. Waiting on my inbox for days with a new email from the workshop coordinator.

Of course, I also Facebook- and Twitter-stalked those of my classmates who have declared their acceptance publicly. We’re getting along nicely, making Twitter lists and posting on our Facebook group.

But the really obsessive behavior cannot begin until after the scholarship decisions are posted, after I get my US Visa (student, of course), after a month or two.

So for now, I am making a list for my lists. (Yes. No judgment.)

  • Usual travel checklist
  • Instant food to bring
  • Filipino food to learn to cook
  • Books to bring
  • A list of All The Things My Friends Want Me To Buy For Them
  • Questions to ask different instructors
  • Stories/experiments to try out
  • Informal things to take care of before I leave (buy a swimsuit, lose some weight, etc.)
  • Formal things to take care of before I leave (visa requirements, work leave, etc.)

You know, just in case I forget to make those lists.


Pinoy Otaku Literature

I liked a lot of things–most of them firmly rooted in pop culture–including anime. When I began to write seriously, I also began noticing how different the plots and characters between the anime serieses I loved and the works of fiction I loved. I even tried to push away the anime influence for a while; and even though I took a seven year break from watching anime, the influence has not left me. Proof of that is how I’ve attempted to alter my drawing style several times in an attempt to alter the trappings of my imagination (though my style still has solid anime-esque foundations nowadays).

Here is my friend, the good-natured, utterly polite (at least in person), and ever-controversial polemicist Karlo David, articulating more eloquently than I ever could, how this generation’s writers and artists can own something as foreign and popular as anime and transform it into art with a Filipino sensibility. 🙂


aoi_bungaku Anime can be very reaffirming

The Filipino youth of this past two decades has an imagination highly influenced, if not dominated, by Japanese animation. Fanfiction, Wattpad stories illustrated anime-style, even the music and fashion sense – the symptoms are everywhere. This younger generation is an otaku generation.

I have been particularly exposed to this fact. During my time in the Ateneo de Davao, many members of the literary org, SALEM, were practically more into anime than literature, and were in the club with writing fanfiction as their main writing background. Many of my friends there were consequently anime fans. In Dumaguete I might very well be the first and so far only graduate student of Silliman University to have been made a member of its humble otaku club, SU MAGE, and several of my students in NORSU are no strangers to anime either. Indeed, I think I can say with…

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Analysis/Reviews, Clarion 2014

Book Review: ‘Storyteller’ by Kate Wilhelm

Storyteller by Kate Wilhelm. Photo from

I never thought I’d get to read Kate Wilhelm’s Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Workshop for reasons other than a passive interest in how the Clarion Workshops came to be. But now that I actually stand a damn good fighting chance at going to Clarion San Diego, Storyteller immediately rose to the top of my to-read list.

What can I say about it that hasn’t already been said in much better ways? Nearly every Clarion graduate recommends it to incoming students, often with glowing reviews. I love Wilhelm’s use of clear, concise words to convey her points; her fond, mama-hen-like tones when talking about specific incidents–whether these are about water gun fights or specific workshop sessions. I love how the writing lessons she chooses to include are very nuts-and-bolts, and yet, not at all preachy or technical or jargon-filled. Plus, the index toward the end saved me from having to highlight passages I liked very much.

Best of all, you can apply these lessons in writing, etiquette, love, and life to just about any kind of story, not just Science Fiction or Fantasy.

I came to Storyteller looking for information about the workshop that I wanted to ask and didn’t even know I wanted to ask the coordinator in our email exchanges, that I was often unable to find even combing through this wonderful index of Clarion-related blogs curated by Liz Argall.  For sure, I did not get direct information, but by reading through the slow, turbulent history of the workshops from the 60s and 70s, I think I know a few things already, like which traditions they might have kept. I hope the cafeteria food isn’t as bad as so many people say.

It doesn’t tell you some things, like how to prepare for Clarion way before you arrive, or how to manage your time well, or how many stories you should churn out during your stay, or which events should you attend or skip. I am starting to realize that those are the things you either find out when you get there, or for yourself through trial and error.

I finished reading the book feeling as if I had my fill of the most satisfying appetizer. Can’t wait for the full course in June.