Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Birth of Venus: My Coming into Writing

She is in love with colors. She used to have an affair with her crayons, watercolor, colored pencil, and oil pastel. Clean bond papers used to court her. ‘Though she had not met canvas, she did not mind giving sheets of paper her attention. She preferred to see them gleaming with bright colors than remaining dull and dead.
At the age of five, she easily learned to grip her big black pencil which she used in sketching on her room’s wall— the same wall she considered as confidante for it had seen her both at her best and at her worst. Whenever she had tantrums, the wall would let her draw what she was feeling, how sad or angry she was. But when she was in high spirits, she would excitedly paint rainbow, sun, grass, and flowers on one portion of her room’s wall.

For every stroke she made, it was as if she was playing with a group of children outside their house. For a moment, she would forget how she felt bad when the children in their neighborhood would not let her play with them. She had her own set of friends— her room’s wall and her coloring materials. These were the friends that would never make fun of her.

She was always delighted by her work of art. It was beyond compare with Picasso’s famous abstract painting.  For a minute, anyone would hear her hearty laughter. Then another minute would pass and the whole house would be filled with her painful cry. Why? Her fuming mother was displeased by her masterpiece. Instead of admiration, what she got from her was a couple of smack in the butt and a glorified pinch in the arm. In front of her friends, she was humiliated. And worse, her mother kept them locked in her cabinet. She was only allowed to see them on Fridays when everybody in school was required to make an artwork.

Friday had been her most awaited day of the week. She considered it her reunion with her friends. At the end of the day, it was her artwork that was hanging first on the teacher’s wall of fame. Because she is good in arts, she was always the representative whenever there were competitions in and outside school. When she was in the sixth grade, she placed second in a poster-making contest. In high school, her design for the Intramurals t-shirt won. Hundreds of students and the faculty members had worn her design. Her friends did not only help her leave a legacy in the school. They even helped her give the best presents by drawing her parents’ portraits for Mother’s Day and for her father’s birthday.

It was settled then on the young lady’s mind what course she would take up in college; even her teachers expected her to study Fine Arts. However, her father did not approve. She tried to get support from her mother but failed. Instead, she was asked to take Journalism as a prelaw course. Bearing her silent protest, she abided. And she had lost her first love.

Since then, words tried to befriend her. She thought of giving them a chance. She learned later on that they were not as indecipherable as what she thought. She was having fun exploring them—their form, their structure, how they could be in the same sentence and yet have different meanings. She was dumbfounded by the versatility of each word. For every piece she would compose, it is like she was painting or drawing all over again. She would write straight news just like she would draw a grass, or write a feature article just like her rainbow on her room’s wall. Unconsciously, she was enjoying the craft.

It was one ordinary day in November 2005 when she clearly heard her calling. She saw an announcement inviting all who have penchant for writing to join the university-wide literary contest. At the sight of the announcement, ideas immediately rushed into her mind. And these ideas became words. And these words formed her short story, which was her entry for the contest.

Her entry was recognized in the competition. It was her first time to receive such recognition using only pen and paper as tools. Thinking that it was just pure luck, she joined again in the following year and won for the second time. She somehow gained confidence in her writing. Nevertheless, she knew she still has a long way to go. Writing is a continuous process and it needs incessant practice to improve, develop, and be able to come up with a masterpiece—a work of art that would inspire others.

Somehow, she did not lose her first love. It was just transformed into another form where she could better express her own voice. She realized she could do a lot with only a pen at hand. She does not need anything colorful to make something colorful. Words are the best art materials that could make the best painting in the world. She knew she had found her best friend. Or else, she would leave this page… clean.

About the Author

J.M. Tolentino is an upcoming author of inspirational and motivational books. She is a graduate of MFA Creative Writing.

Art by  Mai KuuRead Unbroken : How art mends my broken life to learn more about the artist and her art.