Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why Secondary Worlds?

Why Secondary Worlds? is a blog entry from The Grin Without A Cat that explores his coming to terms with his love for writing fantasy and science fiction, and how to relate this to his Filipino identity. An excerpt:

Some people may wonder: why secondary worlds? Why write about them? Where is the sense of Filipino identity in such a creation? Pertinent questions, I admit. I can only speak for myself but my growth as a writer has lead me to a few realizations about a form of writing that is mostly Western-based (an accusation thrown against-- rightly, I think-- most Filipino spec fic writers).

When I first started writing, I wrote stories the way I read them: i.e. based on the fantasy genre. From grandpapa J.R.R. Tolkien to his children (Stephen Donaldson, Terry Brooks to Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin), my understanding of writing fantasy stories involved tragic knights, wilfull princesses, and hapless thieves.

Then the criticism by someone near and dear to me made me stop and consider what I write and why I write-- which is not a bad thing to consider every now and then. In this case, the question was: what makes my writing any different? (And I think even then I realized writers hate to be pegged down.)

So I thought about it and I came up with a couple of insights. One is that there is a difference between fantasy and fantastical. The other is that one can develop a Filipino sense in any fantasy story (or horror or SF) even with the most Western of tropes. With these two insights, I started writing again and crafted a number of stories that I felt could stand against criticism in terms of national identity without foregoing the sense of wonder in such stories.

And they were damn fun to write, too.

Nine published stories in, I've now come to another turning point and another insight: as long as you realize that there is such a thing as national identity in your stories, you can now write without regard to it-- if the story calls for it. I mentioned earlier, writers hate getting pegged down and the idea of writing only one type of story-- i.e. the Filipino story-- seems absurd. Why limit myself when I can imagine far bigger things?

Click here to read the whole post.

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