Young Blood

The cost of words


I suppose signing up for the creative writing elective was the closest I had ever gotten to doing anything meaningful with my life. I won’t say it was particularly profound, because scribbling plot twists in the late hours of the night tends not to lead to a greater sense of self-awareness. But I will say it was thought-provoking because exposing your mind to concepts greater than your understanding does.

I came to terms with two things during my time at the creative writing class. The first is that I will never fully grasp how other people think. Up until that point, I’d always assumed that everybody saw things the same way. I was aware that personal experiences molded each of us differently, but I had believed that at the core of every person was a shared flow of thought. The absurdity of the idea had not occurred to me until the issue came up in my writing.

I found that I was continuously injecting myself into my stories, that I was stuck in painting self-portraits. While I eventually found ways to twist a character’s mindset to fit my plot, I was frustrated that I could never go beyond it. Carbon copies can hold your interest only for so long. I could always blame my ignorance on my youth, but I suppose it is more of a failure on my part for not having the imagination to see what is around me.

You should know upfront that my experience did not lead to a sudden surge of faith in people. Do not imagine changed life ambitions or sudden bursts of inspiration, because that is not what happened. What I did was more like taking a microscope, picking up a slide, and analyzing it. I do not mean to say human interaction is something so mechanical, only that it is not something that can change minds so easily. One day we wake up and find that the world isn’t in black and white, that there are countless grays lying between good and bad, and that we don’t always know which side we are working for. It isn’t something that turns the world into a better place, but you learn to accept it for what it is, anyway. There is so much more to humans than they let on. We talk to people so they can tell us what is within them, and we write about them to feel what actually is.

The second thing I learned is that I will never be a professional writer. I can’t say this realization came with much surprise. Coming from a science high school, I’ve always known that writing was not something I could pursue as a career, anyway. But I’ve come to understand that even if the option was available, it is not something I would choose for myself.

I’m afraid I’ve turned into a very limited writer. I try to force myself into other literary forms, but I always fall back into the dirt-common category of unintentional fiction. I can’t see writing as anything other than memory under constant revision, a reality in better detail. The need to remember is always matched by the need to lie, so that a story based on reality is entirely different from a story based on the truth. I use layers and layers of details to gloss over my writing, but I always end up with the same story—another oddity I’ve plucked out of a crevice, another disturbance I’ve stuck under a magnifying glass. I won’t give up writing because my words will never cheat me, but I will drop dreams of it because those might.

There are times when I wonder what it would be like if I were more consistent with my work. I find myself imagining a world where the odds are in my favor and I can write as I please. But then I suppose it wouldn’t be very fair if I got my way. It is familiarity and not passion that has me wishing for these endings. When it comes down to it, I know I do not write for an income. I am too reckless and indecisive for my words to be of any worth. I write because I am unsatisfied. Because I need to make sense of the cards I am given and this is the only way I know how.

I accept the fact that this will not always be enough. I know that there will be days when the crowds will push against me and all I can do is go along. But I’d like to think that in writing I can hold on to a part of my being, and that this last inch of me cannot be changed. I am not sure if anyone will care enough to understand, but I hope that they stay to listen. I am still here. I am still standing.

Nina Domingo, 17, graduated with honors from the Philippine Science High School and is heading to the University of Minnesota in the United States this fall to take up industrial engineering.

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  • angie1875

    Congrats. Your writing is good for your age. Hope you can achieve all your dreams. Keep it up.

  • TheGUM

    For some reason your YoungBlood column reminds me of one my favorite movies, Gattaca. Maybe it’s because of your science background and career choice. So here’s a Wikipedia write-up (and good luck on your future; good writing, btw :-)

    Gattaca is a 1997 science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, with Jude Law, Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Gore Vidal, and Alan Arkin appearing in supporting roles.

    The film presents a biopunk vision of a future society driven by liberal eugenics where potential children are selected through preimplantation genetic diagnosis to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents.[1] A genetic registry database uses biometrics to instantly identify and classify those so created as “valids” while those conceived by traditional means are derisively known as “in-valids”. While genetic discrimination is forbidden by law, in practice it is easy to profile a person’s genotype resulting in the valids qualifying for professional employment while the in-valids—considered more susceptible to disease, educational dysfunction and shorter lifespans—are relegated to menial jobs.

    The movie draws on concerns over reproductive technologies which facilitate eugenics, and the possible consequences of such technological developments for society. It also explores the idea of destiny and the ways in which it can and does govern lives. Characters in Gattaca continually battle both with society and with themselves to find their place in the world and who they are destined to be according to their genes. Gattaca is the name of the space agency in the film. The name is based on the first letters of guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine, the four nitrogenous bases of DNA. The film was a 1997 nominee for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

  • Islaslolo

    I must say: Your writing is excellent.

    In most of the best universities and colleges in the US, proficiency in writing and the writing process is a major milestone of undergraduate studies and is a requirement for graduation. It just makes sense since we can only transfer knowledge if we write that knowledge. So your taking a creative writing elective course in HS, a wise choice indeed, will definitely help the development of your writing skills. We know people, living or long dead, because of what they wrote or said (that someone wrote).

    Enjoy your college years – they could be the best time of your life. Good luck!

  • nakabahag

    surely a very promising ..brilliant young mind.
    sana pag nakapag taguyod ka na ng mas maraming kapakipakinabang na mga kaalaman lalo ukol sa agham, magamit mo ito para sa iyung bayan.
    sana maiambag mo ang iyung anking talino at edukasyun para sa pag unlad ng ating bansa.
    at sana manatili ka sa pinas pag dating ng araw..
    (iba kaso namin, andito kami sa abroad ngyun para magtrabaho..di kasi kami sing-galing mo…wla kaming paglagyan sa atin na makakapagbigay ng equal na financial benfits tulad dito..pero oks lang, di ba..?)

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