The Art of the Matter Part 2

How did James jumpstart his art career? Read on to find out.


At what age did you start writing? Do you remember the very first thing you wrote? What was it about?
When I was 9 years old, I opened Roald Dahl's book "Revolting Rhymes," a collection of poems that re-interpret popular fairy tales in a pretty twisted, hilarious way. I remember reading it for the first time inside the car, on the way to school. The minute I entered the classroom, I got my notebook and wrote my version of Jack and the Beanstalk, where Jack calls the Three Little Pigs to help him defeat the Giant.

When, how, and why did you start writing professionally?
I was 17 when I read in the Super section of the Inquirer that they were having an open call for new staff members. The announcement said that applicants had to bring resumes, portfolios, and stuff they've done before. Meanwhile, all I had that time was a blog and four issues of a small class magazine that I started with my best bud. I dashed off to the Inquirer office in Makati knowing that I wouldn't get in—all I honestly wanted was to experience an actual job interview. I was one of the last ones called in the boardroom. It was like American Idol and The Apprentice, with Creative Director Tim Yap heading the panel. I left the room with two writing assignments that were due in two days. I was so psyched.

What do you love most about writing?
Writing is the hardest thing I've ever had to in my life. But I keep on doing it week after week because it is such a privilege to be able to influence the way my generation views things. It's also extremely satisfying when I find out that one or two readers are affected by what I wrote.

How often do you write? What do you usually write about?
I write a weekly column called "Thunder Road" for the Inquirer Super. I usually write about pop culture, particularly trends in film, TV, technology, and art. I also scribble daily in thick black notebooks. Whenever I have extra time, I write online at http://backalleybuck.wordpress.com.

Who are your writing influences?
Roald Dahl and J.D. Salinger for fiction, TIME Magazine's Joel Stein for culture, and the Inquirer's John Nery for opinion writing.

Where do you get ideas/inspiration? Has there been a particularly strange or unexpected incident that inspired you to write?
I get ideas from reading one book a week, any magazine I can get my hands on, and tons of websites. When I get assigned to cover an event, I try to take an unconventional reportage style. For example, when I interviewed the Foo Fighters in Japan, journalists were only given 10 minutes each to talk to the band. After the whole press con, I decided—through instinct—to wait inside the hotel. After about three hours, I found the band members in the hotel café, where they gave an impromptu performance and hung out with the hotel guests. I got to spend more than an hour with them!

Are there any places you'd suggest going to, people you'd suggest spending time with, or things you'd suggest trying out to get inspiration?
To free my mind, I love riding the trains and taking long walks. Watching people and eavesdropping on their conversations give me so many ideas as well.

Do you have any specific writing rituals/schedules?
I write my Saturday column on a Thursday morning, where I usually camp in a friend's room or at Burger King, where I can plug my laptop, surf the net, and eat a Whopper. Two years ago, I took a scriptwriting class where we were required to write a full-length film screenplay in a week. I borrowed a friend's condo unit and took out everything inside except for a sofa bed, a desk, a chair, a lamp, and food. I didn't leave the room for two days and eventually finished writing the 214-paged script, double-spaced.

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About the author
Marla Miniano
Former Editor in Chief, Cosmopolitan

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A Simple Learner Who's a Great Pretender

Maybe I'm just a learner, not a weirdo. A learner that knows how to listen and pretend. A simple learner who's a great pretender. Pretending to be slightly dumb enough not to be judged and criticized by those who do not appreciate my existence. We surround ourselves with people who's levels are either beyond or below our intellectual behavior, because as for reality, people may use you either for their success or your downfall. Since then, people tend to judge someone who has an intellect with things they shouldn't be. Making them a criticizer, and most of all, calling them weird.

Honestly, I'm one of this "weirdo" who actually loves to learn things, and for the record, I'm bullied and stressed out for making myself not to learn more and go with the flow to dumbness I had. Have you ever feel being assigned to some task where you know every process to make it easier and faster to finish but turns out to hesitate to voice out because some of your mates put themselves in charge. There are times where I know what to do, what to say, or how to react, but kept myself silent and pretend not to know anything that may help us. Maybe it's a good thing to just go with their ideas and learn from their perspectives, but sometimes you can't control it and says something, and once again called to be a weirdo and let you finish the work by yourself.

It's annoying that you only know one process yet they gave you the whole work and let you finish it by yourself because they insist that "MAGALING KA DIBA?". It's not your fault being an intellectual person, knowing such things that may help you to pursue your dreams, and have the basic knowledge about something. You don't need to know everything, just the basics. And as for those people who do not appreciate your existence, let them be and continue what's the best for you. In some cases, you'll be annoyed by this but most of the time you'll be thankful for it. Not for now but maybe later. Just be yourself either a weirdo, a great pretender, or a simple learner, and always remember to lower your voice and behavior because no one loves that.

Just be a great pretender not to hear any runts and be a good learner that appreciates everything. It's out of nowhere thoughts of mine, but simply I leave you this my favorite life quotation; "Don't introduce yourself, Let your success introduce you"

Jayson Miranda 9 hours ago
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