Destination: Races

I’ve been stamping my passport quite a bit the past year or so, but for this girl addicted to beaches and travel, the purpose of my trips hasn’t been to bum on a beach somewhere! Instead, my foray into triathlon has taken me to some pretty unexpected places to race.

I’ve been flipping through my photos and realized I’ve missed out on a whole lot because I was focused on competing in those triathlons. I never made enough time to go about exploring, and so when I enter a conversation with someone who isn’t into triathlon and we start talking about a place I’ve been, I’m at a loss for words on what else you can do there aside from the races.Β  Read more

1 Little, 2 Little… 12 Monkeys

(or the time a famous musician bought me a drink)

I’ve not been one to go for nightlife or the local music scene lately simply because I’m a morning person, a somewhat serious athlete, and there’s something about going to a dingy smoky bar late at night just to watch a band perform that makes my asthmatic throat constrict.

12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub at Century City Mall, Makati aims to change that attitude, and from my visit there last Friday I think it might actually work. πŸ™‚

12 Monkeys
12 Monkeys is on the 5th Level

12 Monkeys
fully-stocked bar

12 Monkeys
for the live acts

12 Monkeys
for the DJs

This music hall and pub was set up by the who’s who of Manila’s music, social, and F&B scene. Read more

Hi, I’m Noelle and I write for a living.

Today, someone told me I had no right to call that someone out for writing something that may or may not be factual but had no official statement to back it up, just because I don’t write for anything more professional than my blog. (That someone also sent a few ad hominem attacks my way, but let’s stick to the merits of the argument.)

Whenever I receive any sort of criticism, I try to see if it has merit. Is there anything in my words or deeds that deserve such censure? It’s very much part of my personality to self-analyze and so I take comments to heart.

What is the definition of professional? According to Merriam-Webster:

  1. relating to a job that requires special education, training, or skill
  2. done or given by a person who works in a particular profession
  3. paid to participate in a sport or activity

Anyone can set up a blog with all the publishing tools now available — you don’t even need to go into the source code of your pages these days. So you don’t really need any special education, training, or skill to start a blog…

…Ah, but to write a blog that helps you make a living is a different matter entirely. What if your blog is a showcase of your skill in creating that turn of phrase that is just so, that pulls on the heartstrings, that calls to action? That is something someone somewhere is willing to pay for. I know I have that because I have been paid to write in the past. I stopped writing for magazines because I was writing mechanically — you know how magazines are: they cover the same topics year after year with just a tiny change in spin. With other jobs occupying my time I decided I only wanted to write about what I was passionate about and truly interested me. Instead of chasing the freelance writing jobs, I began creating content for my own blog.

And you know what? People visit my blog because what they find there is compelling and takes them on a journey they could not otherwise have gone on. They read my blog to get informed about our shared passion, and they know if I tout something it’s not because I was paid to say so, but because I have used it or tried it out and believe in it. That’s a reputation I have worked hard at building and sustaining. (It’s really up to them if they trust what I write and pull the trigger on a purchase.)

And now the writing jobs — which pay money! — come to me. Because of my blog I have been able to travel, clothe myself, participate in an expensive sport. I get paid to write. You know what I write on my travel documents as an occupation or profession? WRITER.

I do not consider myself a journalist; most of what I write opinionated and based on personal experience. But I do pride myself in the training I received while earning my graduate degree in Media Studies (Journalism), which taught me how to write the difference between statements of fact and statements based on assumption. And that’s what I called that someone out on.

Really, at this point when print magazines are losing readership and circulation (and they are all coming out with online editions to get people to read them again), someone wants to say I’m less of a professional because I self-publish on a blog?

The reason I’m writing this is because I have to let all this word vomit out before it causes me writer’s block. Now that it’s off my chest, I’m going to go back to writing some commissioned work and earn my keep doing it.

Ghostwriter

As a writer, the byline is important because it’s what formally tells the reader who authored the work they are reading. When you create something and are especially proud of it, you want people to know that it was you who created it that work of art — because as a writer you know it takes just as much creativity and passion to weave words as it does to craft sculptures or paintings.

As a writer, though, you know writing isn’t a highly-lucrative profession especially if you’re working freelance or per assignment or project. For some of us, we give up our right to a byline in exchange for a regular writing gig that pays out.

Yep, I’ve gone and turned ghostwriter, like many of my peers who love writing and express ourselves best through the pen but aren’t famous enough to be granted a column in a major broadsheet or glossy magazine. It feels just like any writing project: you write the outline, you fill it in and get creative. But someone else takes the credit for what you’ve done.

I thought it would be much harder to let go of that byline because I know that’s how big my ego is, and that’s how proud I am of what I write. But after a few months of it, I’ve learned to take pride in how well-crafted my work is, byline or no byline. I also believe in what I’m writing for, which is why it’s no big deal when someone else gets the credit. And whenever I see the impact of what I’ve written on another person, it gives me a strange sense of fulfillment.

Of course I can’t tell you who or what I’m writing for; that would take away some of the magic and mystique. But let’s just say I’m glad I have places like this where I can still write as myself. =)

Of Cruelty and Kindness

“That’s a nasty rumor,” she said quietly.

He replied matter-of-factly, “Didn’t really put much stock in it when I heard others talking.” He shrugged, “I mean, I’ve always liked you as a person.”

If there’s one thing I have experienced all my life, it’s that people are cruel. Unconscious cruelty I can take, when they’re just not self-aware enough to know that what they say or do hurts others. It’s when they gleefully and wilfully engage in behavior and talk that tears another person down that I wish the earth would swallow them up whole.

I’ve been on this planet 30 years and I still am amazed at our rapacious appetite for gossip, whether it’s about a celebrity or a nobody who just happens to be in our social circle. “Did you hear about…?” is a surefire conversational kickstarter. So who cares if what we talk about happens to paint someone in a bad light? As a matter of fact, bad news is even more enjoyable to share with others. It sticks longer in our memories, too.

Maybe it’s because we want to feel better about our own lives — that’s why we tell stories of other people failing at theirs. In an effort to make ourselves feel more significant, we attempt to make others look insignificant. Cruelty is a sign that there’s a deficit. When we are cruel, we are attempting to take from others what we feel we lack.

Notice that I’ve used “our” and “we”; I see this capacity for cruelty in myself, too.

And then I experience kindness, and all is not lost. I store up these moments in my heart. Our capacity for kindness is determined by our own experience of it.

When you can choose to be kind instead of being cruel, you can count yourself blessed that someone cared for you, so you can care for others. You overflow, so instead of taking, you are able to give.

I remind myself of the greatest kindness I’ve received and continually receive every day: John 3:16.

Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. — John Watson