Thursday, June 25, 2009

first of May novelist

I finished my first Tagalog romance novel today, and it took me three and a half days to write. This came as a surprise, because I honestly (and presumptuously) believed it would take me just a couple of sittings. After all, the usual formula isn’t all that complicated and the conflicts tend to be exaggerated most of the time anyway. I need not rack my brains validating the plausibility of my imagined characters and their plight.

How hard can it be?

Well, it was difficult. It was easy enough to think of character profiles; easier than coming up with names that fit their descriptions and contrived personalities. It was relatively easy to outline a plot and to think of a reasonably realistic chronology of events. But the difficulty, I think, lies in keeping the entire novel approximately within the prescribed 24,000 words and in devising minor cliffhangers per chapter that will sustain the readers’ interest until the big ta-da at the end. And being the kind of person who finds happy endings a bit too cliche, I had to come to terms with this personal issue and challenge myself to accept that the majority of this particular genre’s readership does not necessarily share my preferences.

It was, however, despite my initial misgivings about writing a type of novel I don’t even read, immensely enjoyable. I remember, during my book club’s discussion on the novel Para Kay B, the writer, Ricky Lee, said that though he composes the story, it takes a somewhat unexpected direction and seems to author itself at a certain point. I don’t claim to be as accomplished a writer, nor do I profess that I share even that singular experience with such a celebrated personage. I do, nonetheless, yield to the legitimacy of his observation.

I had, in my opinion, a clear-cut outline of how I wanted my story to unfold. But when I put pen to paper, the chapters seemed to veer away slightly from my original design, and by the 6th chapter I relinquished all control and rode out the course the story dictated. I must admit, it turned out better than I expected— with twists that were more graceful, more natural— building up to a conclusion that wasn’t explosive, but rather, calmly possessed a pervading tone of deliverance. But it’s not for me to judge.

My work is still a unified mass of determinate paragraphs along with rows and rows of erasures— rejected phrases, sentences— in my careless penmanship. As of this writing, it is yet untitled and, consistent with my nature, I’m obsessing over the cover design and layout of my novel— brass tacks which I doubt I’ll have control over once I turn it in. Submitting it to a publisher is probably the most daunting phase of the endeavor: it’s an act of courage I’m not certain I have in hand. I think I may have some rejection issues.

But that’s a different monologue altogether.


gege said...


fantaghiro23 said...

Congratulations on completing your first novel. Now go submit it!

Never mind the rejection.:)