Monday, October 31, 2011

In my own write

In my own write
by rick olivares

I bumped into one of my best friends from Ateneo the other day at the mall and he introduced me to his family. He then said to me, “I see you everywhere.”

I smiled and simply said “thanks” then “see you ‘round.”

Everywhere. And ‘round.

To be perfectly honest, I never knew where I was going. I never knew what I wanted to do. I just did whatever it took for the moment. I always felt like a square peg in a round hole. In short, I was drifting.

When I give advice to my students or young folk who ask for it, nowadays, I tell them to do what they want to do and not what people want them to be.

How I wish when I knew that and stuck to that when I was younger.

It’s funny how people know me as a I writer when I don’t think I ever was. Lost in all the newspaper and magazine articles are those pieces of artwork I lovingly painted as a child. I went to art school every summer (because I was mostly not allowed to play football). I wanted to do animation or comic books that’s what I wanted as a kid. But when I got to Grade 6, I put up a band in class and me and my classmates began to write songs. So I guess that was the beginning of writing. If I was into songwriting then poetry wasn’t far away. I still have one of my notebooks that contain most of what I wrote back then. Including love letters to girls that I courted. When I read them nowadays I cringe and flagellate myself. What kind of douche bag writes such cheesy stuff?

When I was out of the football team, I wanted to join the photography club but we couldn’t afford a second camera for me to use. Instead I joined the school newspaper. But I wrote sparingly hoping to take photos because those guys were able to get on to the court during UAAP games.

Then my first job after school was in an ad agency and I was asked, “What can I do?” “I can draw,” I said. No opening replied the HR Manager. “But I can write,” I offered desperate for a job.

I got in. But I still never thought that I was a copywriter. I still had illusions of playing in a band. It was hard though because although I had a chip on my shoulder, I did not in my belief have the requisite angst to become a rock star. I didn’t smoke, do drugs, or party like an animal. I was an ordinary bloke without any extraordinary talent.

Even then when I was in advertising, I did a few cameo appearances for television commercials (PLDT is the most prominent one or two) and a number of radio commercials as a talent. One of the coolest things ever is seeing the commercial you wrote, art directed, or appeared in shown on television or in movie theaters. Of course, it was embarrassing because my siblings never let me hear the end of it. They loved to tease me about them.

When I moved abroad, I worked in an entirely different field. The only writing I did were in the form of letters that I wrote to my family and friends about my adventures. While working in a private school in Brooklyn, I was also asked if I could do the newsletters for parents. But that’s it I swear.

Outside work, I’d go all over the city, out of state and just about anywhere. On the days I kept to myself, I stayed in my hangout near the Angels of the Waters where I wrote short stories, poetry, and my diary.

When I came home and worked for Solar Sports, my old college classmate Ralph Roy, who was VP for Operations for the cable network, asked Jude Turcuato who hired me, “Isn’t Rick a writer?” They needed a marketing manager. But I did have a marketing background as well. And later, while doing occasional work with on air creative’s, I wrote a number of plugs as well as several television specials (that I also got to produce and direct as well).

I could never understand that. No matter how hard I tried to stay away from writing, I was always doing it in one form or another. Even while working as a copy writer, my boss asked me to do extra work with the public relations department. So maybe they saw something that I was good at but never had the brains to embrace it.

Someone in twitter asked where do I get the energy and drive to do what I do with nary time off?

I have no idea. I guess it’s doing what you need to do, that’s all. When I decided not to go corporate, I knew I had to hustle just to earn and it has pretty much worked out. My mother used to say that there wasn’t any money to be made in writing. And I agree with her. However, if you write pretty good enough, then it does.

I’m just not crazy about working seven days a week. I feel the pressure of having to deliver. Not just deliver but make to ensure that it is well-written. The tough thing about that is I am a lousy editor. I sleep late and get up early. Take for instance being in Roxas City for the 16th University Games. At night when others were going out to Baybay and wherever, I was at the hotel writing. I guess I’m a slave to it. But I shouldn’t really complain because it has opened doors, paid the bills, and allowed me to experience things and meet folks most people would normally not get to meet.

Are those the perks? Certainly not.  

I’d say that getting the opportunity to teach is one. That’s one dream scratched off the bucket list and I don’t mind doing again. It’s seeing others influenced by the writing to do some of their own. It’s opening minds and hearts to sports, teams, and people. And if it helps the people I write about then it’s all good.

So now people consider me a writer (while some traditional media people derisively peg me as a blogger – ah, what the hell do they know anyways). And maybe I am. My dream now is to write for the New York Times, for National Geographic, to do reports on television, to write that X-Men comic book that I dreamt of as a kid, to cover the World Cup, and there’s more.

Now is it wrong to wish that I’d get rich along the way?

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