An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

06 May 2007

In my room

I finally did it. I told my boss one evening that I am simply exhausted with the book I have been working on for over a year, the history of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force, and the book itself has become so dear to me that I have been giving up more and more things for it. The book is the first thing I think of when I wake up, when it should be to try to recall the dream I've had the night before. My working files in my PowerBook is the first thing I run to at the start of the day, when it should be my journal, as all aspiring writers should do. In the middle of the night I wake up to double check the new citations, and all throughout the day I'm obsessed with getting the details right, the connections right, the conclusions right. Even when I talk to the SAF boys and officers, it's always about the book, and I have gotten out of touch with them as friends. I live and breathe the book, and it's not even in my genre.

I admit, if it were a novel or a collection of short fiction I was writing, I'd be basking in this obsession, and would be only too happy to make the current work my heart and my soul. But it's not a work of fiction, and although I have grown to love the boys that I am writing about, and have grown to appreciate their story even more, this book is nevertheless not me. It will never be me, and the sense of desperate exhaustion I have been feeling lately is because I have been wanting this book to be me, wanting myself to become this book, wanting to change myself into something I'm not so I could write this book the way I want it to be: male, strongly-worded, the be-all and and-all of everything that is the SAF.

Of course no book could ever be the be-all and end-all of anything. And though I could change my point of view and my general style and my working habits and even my lifestyle to fit the masculinity of this book, I could never change my core.

I find a quaint sort of irony here. The SAF, a very masculine unit, an elite force of the PNP, which itself came from the Philippine Constabulary with over a hundred years worth of history of battle behind it, has me for a writer. I, a woman, of the old traditional family from the province, of the fairly sheltered life, I who have just gotten my full independence four years ago, have been entrusted with this story. It has thus become, for me, a state of constant negotiation. For the first ten chapters, working on the book was so liberating because it was so new and it was like nothing I've ever written before. It was easy to negotiate then, until I fell deeper into the story, and somehow, in a way, lost myself.

Thus I am taking a break, taking a step back. And when I return, hopefully I'll be my old self again, a woman writer who sees history against its grain, who asks different questions and can write this book somewhere between the realm of history and the realm of dreams: its facts iron-clad, as male as the SAF is male, but its narrative simply moving and beautiful and unforgettable, no more woman than I am, but no less woman than I am. Eventually.

In the meantime I stay here now, in my old soltera's bedroom in my mother's house, no work files with me, no schedule to have to follow, no quota of words to write per day, no need to meet anyone for an appointment. I can read anything I want, I can watch anything I want, sleep for as long as I want. The boss was very understanding, never even asking when I will be back. The man in my life is also very supportive. He sends me a couple of text messages everyday, gentle and loving messages carefully worded so as not to disrupt my solitude. My son just checks on me every morning and then goes on with his merry games in his own room with the rest of the household, leaving me alone to do whatever I want. It's quite refreshing, like waking up in sunshine amid the familiar sights and smells of a room that I have lived in for all my life, pre-SAF, pre-boyfriends, pre-motherhood, pre-University of the Philippines, pre-independence, and here I find myself again, undisturbed and untouched, as if just waking into life.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you are finally taking a breather even if it means putting on hold the book you have been putting together for a while. I hope you find the much needed rest and replenishment amid the rat race of life.

Take care Maryanne.

I will be in Manila for a few days sometime in September on my way to Bangkok. I hope this time we will make the connection. Thanks for keeping me on the loop with the latest happenings in your life. Please omit this part of my email about my forthcoming trip. Thanks.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you are finally taking a breather even if it means putting on hold the book you have been putting together for a while. I hope you find the much needed rest and replenishment amid the rat race of life.

Take care Maryanne.


9:34 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

I'm ok. Thanks for dropping by again. :)

9:49 PM  
Blogger Lizza said...

Well-written post, it's no surprise the SAF has you for its writer, and therefore it's to be expected that you'll do the boys, their actions, and their history justice. Most likely, people's interest will be "peaked" (harhar, sorry, couldn't resist) by the book.

That being said, I hope you're enjoying your respite. Your soltera bedroom and your non-stressful activities sound lovely.

12:17 AM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Thanks, Lizza! Here's hoping it'll work. :) "Peaking" interest and all that. LOL.

6:41 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

honor knows no man, or woman, or child when it comes to the art of mass production of art and the coffee breaks gone haywire in between hee. breaks are good.

btw, this is martin cruz. i met your brother, Kid, via the bass place. dropped in from one of them UST kid's blog (i forget fast like goldfish on crack, my apologies).

4:09 AM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

"The art of mass production of art?"

8:24 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

uh, what i meant to say was that even people writing just to write take breaks. so i guess it's only natural for people who write to earn to take breaks, as well. sorry, labo haha.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Oo nga, labo. :)

9:21 PM  
Blogger uberjam said...

hello. chanced upon your blog while searching for a completely unrelated topic.

nice to come across some familiar faces.

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! Ms. maryanne,
U know what? I admire you...
You are my Idol..pag may time ako punta ako mall to buy your book..
pa autograph huh?
add me sa frndster. tnx!:)
my name is Lheen.


10:28 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Sure, Lheen. Salamat, ha. :)

12:50 PM  

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