No, for real. It doesn’t. So get your head out of the clouds and realize the pressure is off.
But Guilliean, what are you saying?
Listen here, young blood. I’m here to make you realize and accept that you’re not original. What you think you have to say has already been said before in different tongues for many generations.
So what does that mean for me, you ask.
What you have to say and how you say it is what makes it original.
Boom. I blew your mind. It’s okay. Breathe.
One of my process goals in my workshop this year was to read 3 books to inspire 3 stories I plan to write over the semester. I chose a short story collection (Bradbury Stories by Ray Bradbury), one biography (Daughter of Earth and Water: A Biography of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley by Noel Gerson), and one novel (Noli Me Tangere by José Rizal). My last workshop teacher recommended we be promiscuous with our reading. Read random shit that has nothing to do with your thesis. I decided to put her advice into effect with this assignment.
I decided to tackle Noli Me Tangere first. Translated into English, of course. The story I am writing that is loosely based on my family came to fruition during the planning stages of my goals. It made me step back and want to embrace my Filipino literary heritage more fully. José Rizal is a famous Filipino author, someone I probably should’ve started reading a long time ago. Alas. Hindsight is 20/20.
Maluca Lingua (Spanish for “crazy language”) is 1 of the 3 the stories that I will submit for the workshop this semester was inspired by my family. It’s actually already been written but I am adding more to it slowly but surely. The revision process is my favorite part of the writing process, as you know.
Backstory: my siblings and I do not speak Tagalog fluently. We understand bits and pieces, whatever we have individually picked up over the years. This is entirely my elder brother’s fault. He didn’t speak for the longest time because he was being spoken to in three languages: Tagalog, English, and Spanish. It’s an inside joke with a bitter aftertaste when we talk about it. I sometimes wonder how different my life would have become if I was bilingual. Anyways, I thought I was being original by having the narrator be someone completely different than what I’m used to writing.
There is a section in the first paragraph of the first chapter of Noli Me Tangere that sounds exactly like how I want Maluca Lingua to sound. I started screaming in joy, because now I am able to look at how Rizal did it and copy the SHIT out of it.
I was going for originality and my literary predecessor reminded me that I am not.
So, young blood, go forth and testify. You’re NOT original.
Know what I say to that? Fuck it. Frolic, have fun with it.