“Writing is not a profession for the faint of heart.”Jag Muyco
Born and raised in Iloilo City, Jose Anthony Gerard “Jag” Muyco is an all-out fictionist and poet. He also currently teaches in the humanities and social science department of Iloilo Doctors’ College, and is the adviser of the IDC- Gazette and Yearbook, and tries his best to promote creative writing, art, and philosophy to people around him. He is also a gothic romanticist, believing that people have the capability to show extreme love and hate depending on the environment around them, and by focusing on dark themes, it will remind people of the realities of the world that they are being ignorant about, and by seeing death and the darkness for what it truly is, pure beauty. He also supports independent publications through his zines like, Into the darkness, Words Under water, and Songs of Catharsis. He also believes that writers can also get there works out there, releasing it to the wild, through their own means and if they have the passion and power.
ABOUT “13 VERSES AND MY SONG OF SORROW”
13 verses and my song of sorrow is not your typical poetry compilation that you pick up in a bookstore and read with the kilig effect or to brood over in the pouring rain. It is the most romantic and gothic way that the author releases his emotions into the wild world. From old pals doing harana, to the gory depictions of sorrow, love, and death, the author sets the atmosphere of love and discomfort to the reader in order for them to feel the emotions that the author is trying to convey, through the extremities. The poems written in the book are not for the faint of heart, for the shallow, or even for those who just want to be flattered. They are for those who want to be loved and truly loved and to feel the essence of loss and sadness in the most natural and authentic way possible through the eyes of the author.
Q: What kind of child were you?
I grew up in a reserved household when I was a child, so I interacted with no one but my siblings, family, and my yayas. When my dad decided to move to Lapaz, I remember it being a difficult time since I had to mingle with kids whose ideas and way of seeing things were different from mine. I could say that I was spoiled as well and immature since I wanted to take everything, and at the same time I remember being very territorial. This made it difficult for me to mingle with other kids, especially since I felt like I never belonged; I had my own little world where I can do whatever I wanted.
Q: What do you read as a child?
I never read that much as a child, except for the textbooks in English since I was always fascinated with the stories. For some reason stories fascinated me because it reminded me of my grandmother who always read to me and my siblings whenever we visited. The book that actually got me hook was one of the books in the Captain Underpants series. I tried getting into Geronimo Stilton, but it really wasn’t for me. I only read a lot when I graduated sixth grade, reading the 39 clues series. A side from captain Underpants, since I grew up in a very religious household, I always read the children’s bible.
Q: Do you enjoy writing then?
Writing as a discipline, never made it enjoyable for me becaue I always had terrible handwriting, and I’d always get scolded by the teachers each time. But I started making my own booklets and stories when I was probably around fourth grade. I would make up stories and fan-fics (yes I know right?) when I was in fifth grade. But when I reached freshmen year in high school, that was literally game over for me. When I discovered Rick Riordan, and the Percy Jackson Series, that was when I decided to become a writer.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to write? When did you first think of yourself as a writer?
I decided to become a writer when I was in freshmen year in high school. I only wanted to be an astronomer then or some kind of whacky lawyer. But then I realized that I really loved stories when I was in High school and I can make up my own worlds through that, so that’s when I decided to become a writer.
Q: Once you began to write, what future did you imagine for yourself? What was your dream?
The writing dream I had was really corny. I wanted to be this second Rick Riordan, writing mythology inspired stories and telling them to the world. Back then I was really naïve to think that I can change the world through my writing. But boy was I wrong. I later realized that writing is more of a self-exploration for me, to know myself more and to set my emotions into the wild.
Q: Were you reading poetry books by other writers for inspiration?
Disappointingly, I never thought of myself as poet until my ex (yes I know) told me I had talent for writing poems. That’s where I began to read the works of Poe, who really inspired and influenced my writing and poetics. As I grew older I began to read other poets for inspiration like Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and even Filipino Poets like John Iremil Teodoro.
Q: What do you do when you get stuck? When you don’t know what to write next?
If I get stuck I read something to inspire me. If that doesn’t help, I take a walk, do some work, or just sleep. It will naturally come to me as soon as I’ve done these things.
Q: How did you get started with “13 verses and my song of sorrow”? What gave you the idea?
I was actually going to give up writing because I reached the state of depression. But then a certain someone inspired me to keep writing. Then I decided to compile the poems I wrote and dedicate the book to that certain someone. The concept of the book came from Neruda’s Twenty Love poems and a song of despair. I got that concept and made it my own.
Q: Have you had to do research for your book?
I don’t remember doing research for my book since it’s mostly poems. All I had to do is look in to the corners of my mind and began writing.
Q: Tell me more how you revise a book?
I revise most of my pieces by writing it down on a notebook. There when I type it in the computer, that’s where I domost of the editing and the revisions. I would cut certain lines and words. Then I’d let someone read it. If they enjoyed it then I put it in the book.
Q: How do you know when a book is done?
Sir Sid will probably scold me for this, but it’s mostly through gut feeling. Normally the publisher would say if I should add something or if it’s already ok. But mostly, I decide when a book is done based on my gut feeling, or at least when I know I gave my all in that book.
Q: How did you go about getting your first book published?
It was a weird story actually. I was supposed to publish the book with a different publisher. But months came, and I still haven’t heard from them. Afterwards, that’s when I decided to go to Ukiyoto. After a week, they decided to publish my book and send a contract to me, and that was that.
Q: What do you like best about being a writer?
The best thing about being a writer is that I can make people uncomfortable with what I feel, in not the way that they thought it would. I get to promote certain ideas and styles that may either be forgotten, or may be strange to some. I also like the idea that I’m influencing people and giving them emotional comfort through my writing, since I’m more of a gothic Romanticist than a classicist.
Q: Many young people who want to write think they have to go to indie publishing. Do you think so too?
All I can say is that you must do what’s best for you. If you want to go indie, that’s cool, I did that before, if you want to “sell your soul” to a publisher that’s fine too, at least you don’t get to do much work with a publisher. But for me, and don’t take my word for it, I think Indie publishing is really cool and should be done as often.
Q: What do you tell young people who want to write?
Just do it! I mean my friend, Doc Elvie, once said that it’s not a profession for the faint of heart. But if you have the guts to pick up the pen, I mean why not, right? My dad used to think writing is just a hobby then, but then he realized it did me good than it did me bad. The only advice I can give you is to be patient and take time when you write. Writing is not a race, it’s more of like a lover that craves all your time and attention.
The Coming of A New Breed of Ilonggo Writers is a series of conversations with Ilonggo young writers on how to cultivate a creative mindset during quarantine. Compiled and edited by Noel Galon de Leon of Kasingkasing Press.
Portrait of Jag Muyco by Daryne Chua