07 November 2008

Manila Times column for 07 November 2008 "Should writers stick to one writing field?"

original post here.

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
Should writers stick to one writing field?

Should a writer specialize in one writing field or is it more advisable to write in different fields?

I remember being asked before by a potential employer what field or specialization I really (want to) focus at upon seeing my résumé. This is because I listed my different work experiences and engagements by field (e.g. sections include my filmography, a list of literary anthologies where my stories were published, and a rundown of newspapers/lifestyle magazines where I used to contribute feature articles) plus I listed the type of writing fields I could engage in (including scriptwriting for television, writing press releases and copywriting). This employer couldn’t figure out if I was a scriptwriter, a journalist, a creative writer or a literary writer, so he asked me to categorize myself more clearly.

But what if I am all of that?

Writers generally are engaged in different things other than writing. There are those who cross disciplines for many reasons (most times financial) but there is a reason for that: we want—and need—to experience life, different facets of life, in order to fully understand the nature of the human condition and feel enough of life to recapture aspects of it using the written word.

Thus, I think it’s but natural for a writer to cross writing disciplines as well. Sometimes, there are several thoughts that could be best expressed via specific writing forms, so it’s just natural for a writer to release that thought using the most appropriate form s/he wants. Writers who write advertising copy and press releases for a living find themselves writing short stories on the side as a “creative release.” Journalists and scriptwriters for television double as poets in the literary circles. Film scriptwriters often find themselves fascinated by their art’s sister artform, the theater, and end up dabbling in playwriting as well. The reverse happens, too, as playwrights—most times in need of more lucrative writing jobs—find themselves studying television and cinema and write scripts for those outlets.

In this country, I think it’s hard to find a writer who just writes in one type of field. We don’t have exclusive fictionists, poets or scriptwriters today. Most—if not all—have crossed writing disciplines because, simply, they want to. Wherever their creativity calls them, writers just heed. In the end, that feeds their craft well and feeds their creativity better.

We’ll get to know some of these types of writers next time.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com.

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