Creative Non-Fiction and The Blog

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Seriously since you seem to have the energy and inclination for such endeavors, perhaps you can start a campaign to promote not only Filipino women, but also writers who will write in excellent Pilipino, or at least use impeccable English as a substitute.

That’s part of a lengthy email from a reader. Oh my. Seriously now, what a tall order for a mere blogger like me to start such an advocacy? Sorry, I am not the right person. I know my limitations. I have great ideas for blog topics but more often than not, I am often stumped on the opening hook for my entry. If I tortured myself about my imperfect English, I would not be pounding away on my keyboard and blogging for the past two years. In fact, that’s one reason I only blogged in 2006. I felt insecure about my writing. If I let my insecurities interfere with my goals, there would be no advocacy on grief support in the Philippines and Reshaping the Filipina Image Online. It does not mean I don’t want to hone my writing skills. The only way to improve on my writing skills is to write everyday and learn to be better.

Last Saturday, I got a text message from Tin of Read or Die ( they promote reading and literature in the Philippines.) that Butch Dalisay was giving a short talk on Creative Non-Fiction at the Trinoma PowerBooks, I grabbed this opportunity to be inspired by a great writer. Of course, you know Butch Dalisay is a Palanca Hall of Fame Awardee and owns a blog at Pinoy Penman.

My first encounter with Creative Non-fiction was writing about Luijoe’s death for the Fallen Cradle. Frustrated with the slow progress of my writing, I showed the draft to my sister, Myrna who lovingly advised me to “show, not just tell my story”. I had to involve my fives senses. The task seemed formidable. How does one write the stark contrast from a glorious, happy beach scene snatched away in minutes to a bleak, depressing moment of truth, the death of my son?

On that brilliant day in May, his laughter rang out in the salty air as he pressed his feet on the powder-white sands of the beach, leaving a trail of tiny footprints. That was the last time I saw him alive.

Somehow, that short exercise brought out an inner need to tell the world of my pain because I knew others like me probably can relate. I was hungry to learn more about creative non-fiction.

Just before Butch Dalisay’s talk, I asked him “Is a blog, a form of creative non-fiction?”

His reply “I definitely think it is. Blogs are a form of literature. Anything that is written is literature. The quality varies. Some are good. Some are bad. Blogs fail as literature when there is barely any editing. Never mind the grammatical and mechanical mistakes. The organization, the material, the way it is approached, other things you could have brought in instead but didn’t. In other words, it’s not really thought out because maybe it wasn’t designed that way. It is exciting because it empowers ordinary people to be authors and publishers. Over time, it’s going to change how literature will look. There is this move from text to the internet and the hypertext moving back to print. It won’t be far before there will be a compilation of “Best of Blogs”.

Creative Non-Fiction

Butch DalisayIn creative non-fiction, Butch Dalisay elaborates that

1. When you write about yourself, it’s never just yourself. It can’t be. Who the hell are you anyway? Why should your life be so interesting to people? It could be interesting only up to a certain point. There’s got to be a point when you are no longer talking about yourself. Or even when you are, there are points others can relate to . That’s one of the pleasures of literature– the recognition. “She/he said it in ways that I possibly can’t but not right now”. And that’s what appeals to us in good writing in others.

2. Conversely, even if you write about others (not yourself), there still has to be way by which what you are writing resonates with the reader … So that she /he can see herself in it so that it’s not floating out there in outer space.

Butch advices to “Find the image that will capture the idea rather than express the idea itself. This is a technique from fiction you can bring in to non-fiction. Fictional devices that one can employ are use narrative, use of dialoque, use of concrete imagery, use of description to describe the scene and the scene will carry the idea.”

While I may not be a qualified representative to campaign for better writers, it is possible to improve on our writing skills and spice up our blogs to make them more engaging, entertaining and with a distinct voice. Butch Dalisay graciously agreed to hold a short talk on Creative Non-Fiction for Bloggers (to be scheduled) through the Blog and Soul Movement. So watch out for that announcement in this blog.

All that talk is useless if I don’t write and use the lessons of imagery. It is practice, practice, practice that will help me and with a little guidance prompt me to be a better writer. The question is do you think bloggers should take the next level and take creative writing workshops?

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1388 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • I think blogging makes me be a better writer. And sometimes, I take a look back and think that maybe the things I blog about are not that interesting, I’m not a celebrity, after all. But then again, I realize that by sharing a part of who I am, I become connected with other people and make them be a part of me too.

  • @Ria – one does not need to be a celebrity to be interesting. Each one of us have a unique story to tell.

  • true–practice makes perfect. what more–passion makes writing at its best. we only have to have the desire to improve ourselves and perfect our trade.

  • I can’t agree more with the “practice, practice, practice” advice. I’ve been writing professionally for nine years, but believe me, there are still days when I sit down to write some copy and I do not know what to write or how to start it, especially, how do you sell T-shirts or bags or shoes to someone who doesn’t care for them? 🙂

    I think the creative nonfiction talk for bloggers is a good idea. I’m sure it would help our readers more if we are all able to improve our writing skills, no? And how do you convert a discriminating reader if you can’t write well? I always believe that form (style, grammar) and substance (content) should go hand in hand.

    Sayang, I wasn’t able to go. I was heading home when Tin sent me a text about it, and I was all sleepy and couldn’t turn back. I’m sure it was informative. I did send my intern to cover the previous talk by Isagani Cruz last time.

    And hey, I’d love to be at that talk. I’m a big Dalisay fan 🙂 Looking forward.

  • @Dine- I can’t agree more. I hope there will be creative writing workshops I can attend.

    @karla- I told Tin that too bad I got the text message too late. I could have promoted beforehand. I will contact Butch Dalisay about schedules and I will make sure everyone gets a two week notice.

  • life is a never-ending learning process. the moment you say ” i know everything” is the moment you die. blogging helped get my creative juices flowing again after a long drought. butch d is a brilliant writer and we could all learn from him. please let me know when that workshop gets scheduled.

  • Wow, this is exciting! Blogging certainly gives me the opportunity to express myself in writing. And because I don’t have to submit my work to an editor, I feel as though I always do a good job. Of course, this illusion (or delusion) has its limits hehe.

    I hope I can attend one of the workshops on how to be a better writer.

  • Who says that we are limited to “Pilipino,” which is a Tagalog-based national language? What about all the other beautiful languages that exist in the Philippines?

    Manuel Faelnar, Director of DILA Philippines Foundation, Inc., is doing something remarkable worldwide: the revival of the Philippines’ indigenous languages so that they can be used to write new educational instruction manuals and intelligent literature. Something like, “Taking back Cebuano where it belongs – as a language to be taught in our schools in Cebu.”

    More on Manuel’s advocacy: “DILA, which stands for Defenders of Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago, is a union among patriotic Pangasinenses, Pampanguenos, Bicolanos, Warays, Karay-as, Ilongos, Cebuanos, Ilocanos, and other ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines who feel aggrieved by the language policy of their country, and whose passion in life centers around promoting their dear languages (and other aspects of their culture) and saving them from extinction. Their related activities include studying their languages and doing language translations, interpretations and comparisons in a scholarly way. They work for the intellectualization of their languages and aim to have them be made languages of instruction and regular subjects in the school curriculum. Love and pride for their languages motivated them into forging this grand alliance. All members of minority groups, as well as exceptionally sympathetic Tagalogs, are strongly encouraged to join us and participate in our intellectual discussions. We are here to destroy the growing Tagalista mentality that is marginalizing all native languages to no end. “United, we shall overcome!”

    In 2005, I was taken aback by the beauty and power of my native language when Governor Gwen Garcia eloquently related to me a story in Cebuano (with words I had never heard). She attributes her fluency in Cebuano to the visits in her grandmother’s home as a kid. The only magazines available for her to read was “Liwayway” Magazine.

    We choose what we can handle as an advocacy based on our capabilities and our interests. Good luck to those who want to write in whatever language they are comfortable with. We are with you!

    You can join Manuel’s discussion group online: To contact Manuel directly, with my regards: [email protected]

  • hi, noemi, many thanks for the mention here! it was great talking with you guys at trinoma. i’m also writing because, alas, i’ve got my schedules all mixed up. i vaguely remember saying yes to a march 15 talk at the fort, but now i realize that i have a talk to give at the ateneo that day (to underprivileged kids going on to college, so it’s something i can’t drop or say no to). we might have to to reschedule my chat with the bloggers then, either on a saturday morning or on a sunday or in mid-april na, since all my saturdays are answered for 🙁 so sorry about this mix-up!

  • just got your message–so sorry (again) for the confusion. i forgot that i’d said yes to march 8, so march 8 it is, 3-5 pm, thanks!