Initial Thesis Output

It’s been a busy couple of months since my last update. Gave talks at a conference, did a book signing, and have been doing non-stop promoting of The Kobayashi Maru of Love and other Y&BB titles (while also planning for next year’s stuff), quit my job with the POC, went to Boracay on assignment, did all kinds of other stuff, and played through a whole NBA Season in NBA 2K11 (after a heart-pounding semifinals round against the incredibly powerful Miami Heat, I’ve managed to squeeze past and get into the Eastern Conference finals). And now I’ve finally started writing the introductory essay to my thesis. Here’s the quickie intro for it (comments are more than welcome, and would be greatly appreciated):

I have a tendency not to follow good advice. It doesn’t matter what advice that is, whether it be career, academic, relationship, or life in general, I will probably listen to what is told me, and then fail to do it. This has resulted in a number of failed relationships, entering the MA program much sooner than I should have (and as a result staying in the MA program much longer than I should have), a ramshackle career path (which to many would constitute no career path at all), and a future of liver and kidney problems. On the bright side, it has also led to a wealth of writing material, the co-founding of the renegade publishing outfit The Youth and Beauty Brigade, and an exposure to many aspects of the writing life which few writers bother to explore.

The majority of MA level introductory essays to theses focus on the writer’s poetics and how the writer situates herself in the context of Philippine literature. This does not move far from what is written for the thesis at the undergraduate level. In my case the major differences would be the changes that I have undergone in my attempts at writing, and in the development of my writing. I’ve switched genres, I’ve changed my worldview (which can only be a good thing, as my worldview at the time was pretty bleak and angsty) and I’ve decided to explore different narrative territory and be more observant of form.

But beyond the usual discussions of poetics and tradition, I would like to strike out in this thesis and discuss the business side of Creative Writing. Seeing business and creative writing together in the same sentence seems icky, brings a bad taste to the mouth, and screams of artistic compromise and the much dreaded label “sell out.” Despite the negative connotations that come with a discussion of business in the creative arts, I believe that it is essential for young writers to think about marketing, branding, and distribution of our literary works. Starting with bull-headedness and then refining my methods through reading, practice, experimentation, and a healthy willingness to fail and learn from those failures, I believe that I have amassed experiences in self-publishing that would be a substantial contribution to the knowledge in the field, and would more importantly be beneficial to writers who would like to explore their own alternative options in publishing, marketing, and distribution.

This introductory essay to the thesis will begin by discussing the writing that I’ve done while in the MA program. Since I’ve been in the MA program a while, it will cover about seven years of my writing career, but will limit itself to the writing that appears in the creative portion of the thesis (excluding the poetry and some of the fiction that was written as course work and some of the works written and published during this period but do not fit into the thesis thematically). I will discuss the directions that I have explored in my writing and how I believe this writing has developed, and how it humbly attempts to contribute to the larger body of Philippine Literature in English.

Next I will discuss the experiences that I have had with publishing. First I’ll talk about having a major publisher and coming out with my first book. Then I will cover the experiences that led to my decision to self-publish my second book. In relation to self-publishing, I will also discuss the various aspects of publishing, such as marketing and distribution, and my initiatives in finding alternatives to the dominant modes of publishing. I’ll discuss not only traditional marketing, but my initiatives in online marketing and my participation in online communities, comic book conventions, and other avenues which aren’t normally explored by traditional writing/publishing.

And then the bulk of this thesis will be the creative work, which will be comprised of my two non-fiction books and excerpts from my collection of short stories.

Like I said before, I have a tendency not to follow good advice. I was advised that publishing and the business side of things don’t belong in an MA in Creative Writing thesis. I can only hope that not following that bit of smart advice can result in a successful experiment.


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