January 05, 2007

Simple pleasures

One of the few times I regret becoming a lawyer is when I realize that the legal profession has destroyed the way I write.

I’ve always loved a good read—anything from poetry, the essay, the short story; even non-fiction and news reportage; I devour columns that are well-written (local and foreign) and, now, blogs too. I’ve always enjoyed writing as well; I’ve dabbled in poetry (though nowhere as good as Marlon, who writes so well in Filipino it drives me absolutely crazy), the essay, even the occasional short (ok, actually one quite long) story; a few years back (way before this blog), I went online as part of a pool of online columnists of inq7.net reporting on the Estrada plunder trial.

Next to being a professional basketball player (which is not possible considering my height and my skills), I’ve always dreamed of being a writer—meaning writing what I want the way I want to (and getting paid for it would be a big bonus; Jessica Z lives a great life, she writes the way she wants to and gets paid for it).

But law has destroyed the way I write—with its demands as to form and as to argumentation--because it has also destroyed the way I think. There is very little room for imagination in legal writing because you are required to be precise and because oftentimes the reader—the judge or justice—has none. Imagination, creativity, whimsy are often alien to legal writing and you have to make room for it.

And so, I've pushed the envelop quite a few times. I once started a pleading submitted to the Supreme Court with a Calvin and Hobbes exchange; I’m not sure if they got it (I'm not even sure they knew who Calvin and Hobbes are). I’ve started pleadings with poetry; I’m not sure they got it either. I’ve even started pleadings with passages directly quoted from scripture; I’m not sure they got that.

Since law does not allow me the luxury of writing creatively the way I would want to all the time, I now derive vicarious satisfaction from the the printed word from other writers—and there are so many (Salman Rushdie, Raymond Carver, Isabel Allende, Garcia Marquez, Neruda, Ian McEwan, Butch Dalisay, Teddy Boy Locsin, Conrad De Quiros, Patricia Highsmith, MLQ3 among many others).

These are my simple pleasures—getting excited over words on a page.

Here are some words that I wish I had written from an author whose books I follow:

They entered the wood, where the light was a watery green and giant beeches dripped calmly onto the unfurled leaves of the abundant ferns. She was furious. She squeezed her brakes in her fury and had to push all the harder. She wanted it ended now, by the roadside, on the ground, in the dirt, under this tree, now and quickly. The pain would mean nothing, it would purify her, justify her. Then she would be on her bike, pedaling swiftly. The wind and rain would cool her face, freshen and heal her. She would not dismount for the uphill stretches. She would push on, leave far behind this weak man whose silence smelled and made her nauseous.

Yes, she had made her decision, it was already a fact. It was almost in the past. But just as at Christmas their intimacy had had to catch up with their letters, so now they still had to break into speech, raise the difficult subject, tortuously reason it through with lies and false emotion and pretensions to logic before they could attain the conclusion she had already accepted. They would have to go through all that before she could be free. Her impatience was so great she wanted to shout, she wanted to pick up her stupid bicycle and dash it against the road. Instead, she raised her hand to her face and bit her knuckle hard.” (Ian McEwan, The Child in Time.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with u sir. I've had writer's block ever since first year of law school. Thankfully blogs provide us with enough good reads to enjoy otherwise, the school's assignments would have made my block more... permanent. :)

--Rachel Barroso (4c)