Calling myself a writer

“:Drawing Hands” by MC Escher

In my first year in creative writing school, our fiction teacher told us, his timorous class, “Have the gumption to call yourself a writer.”

Of course I didn’t believe him. Two years later, I did. I was watching an Ateneo-La Salle game at the referee’s table next to the Ateneo bench when a scuffle among the on-court players erupted into a free-for-all. Alums from both schools charged into the court. From the audience behind us, two former players vaulted over the railing, swinging. It was blue and green mayhem. I scrambled under the table, took out my Palm Pilot and tap-tapped about the chaos around me. That’s when I knew, for sure, that I was a writer, when the only way for me to make sense of things was to reduce them to words, when the words were almost, almost as meaningful as the event unfolding.

A few years later, while I was being wheeled into the operating room, a doctor leaned over me. “Hi! I’m your anesthesiologist. My name is Christian Doctor.” He was Doctor Doctor, my doctor. Laid out flat on the gurney, trying to recall the words of Psalm 23, I felt an urge to create a limerick.

When you’re about to face uncertainty and still feel like reaching for a pen and paper, that makes you, in my book, a writer.

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