i have had problems with the spoken word lately. in the middle of a spoken sentence, i have often had to stop to find the right word. and often, i have had to resort to tagalog to express what i mean. i suspect this has had to do with the fact that i've been editing other people's work for too long. i have had to acquire their language, the cadence of their sentences, the idiosyncracies of their expression, in order to edit them faithfully, while preserving the integrity of their manuscript. while this is legitimate professional work, it has had the effect of dumbing me down, so to speak.
i haven't even had the energy to write my own stuff, or to read a book. at the end of the day, my eyes are bleary from editing other people's work, and outside of it, i cannot focus on the printed word for too long. so i've been watching TV sitcoms to relax and fall asleep to.
talk of dumbing down.
last friday, i was invited to a birthday dinner in dasmarinas village. it was karina bolasco's birthday party that she was co-celebrating with linda panlilio. apparently, linda has been running a kind of salon at her place where the literati are welcome and where they feel right at home. not being a literary writer, i had no idea this existed. so when i got the invite saying karina and linda invite you, i had to ask, who is linda?
when i walked into linda's parlor with no idea what to expect, i felt a moment of panic seeing a roomful of people, half of who were new to me. and as the rest of the guests streamed in, i realized i was at a party of literary writers -- poets, novelists with literary awards casually tucked in their back pockets. how many of them had i read? embarrassingly, only one. i hoped that i wouldn't be asked, or that there would be no discussions about the merits of anyone's work!
but the company was warm and accepting, and fun. the conversation was thankfully mundane. i didn't stand out like a sore thumb or wilt like an abandoned plant in a corner. there was enough interest in me, the new person in what seemed like a tight group. feasting on bleu cheese and salami and sangria and wine, they wanted to know about my brother jim, his latest projects, his tussle on tweeter with Gringo. such fan-like concerns from a supposedly erudite group!
i felt right at home. And to my surprise, words -- the right ones -- simply floated seamlessly out of my mouth. i wasn't trying to be smart or erudite, i thought i was just being myself, but that night, i probably found a part of myself that i hadn't been in touch with for a while -- my long-untapped thinking, creative self. it was delightful hearing the verbs, nouns and adjectives tumbling out of my mouth like musical notes. for once in a long long while, i wasn't grasping helplessly for words. It was like breathing pure, clean air.
later in the evening, some of us gathered around a grand piano where the pianist who seemed to know every song ever written, made it easy for even non-singers to reach every note. here i felt i had a slight edge over most of the talent in the room.
i must remember to thank karina for including me in her exclusive guest list. knowing her, i think she must have a plan in her head to rescue me from the dreariness of editing mode and bring me back to the thrill of creativity as I recover my own voice. i have a long ways to go. i still have my editing job that i think i'm good at. but i now know how much i need to nurture that part of me that has been repressed for so long.
now that hard part begins.