Appreciate your editors, writers told

Author and journalist Criselda Yabes holds a copy of her novella, Barcelona, in her lecture “Barcelona and Other Fictional Dispatches” on Friday, Jan. 26, at the Tanghalang Teresita Quirino of the Benavides Building. Photo by Ryla Tuazon/THE FLAME

AN INTERNATIONAL author encouraged creative writers and journalists to appreciate the efforts of editors, saying they can serve as lifelines and saviors.

Criselda Yabes, author of several books, including Broken Islands and The Battle of Marawi, said she learned a lot from her past editors, noting that one of them loved literature as much as she does.

“Sometimes I hear stories about young graduates joining newspapers, and they cry when their editors edit, please don’t. It’s good to see what your editors do because at some point you will know the good editors,” Yabes said during the seminar “Barcelona and Other Fictional Dispatches” held on Friday, Jan. 26, at the Tanghalang Teresita Quirino of the Benavides Building.

“I was very privileged to have been hired…because I had very good editors. This is really very important for you to know right now: editors are your lifeline. They can even be your savior,” Yabes said.

The program was organized by the UST Creative Writing Center and Literary Studies (CCWLS) as a part of the Visiting International Writers and Scholars Series.

Yabes compared the state of journalism during Marcos’ martial law and today, claiming that journalism then was stricter.

“Before, when a story comes out, you have to go out right away with one exception: it has to be accurate. In fact, if you put out a story with errors, you could really get fired,” Yabes said in front of an audience filled with Artlets students and teachers.

Yabes revealed that the life of journalists back then revolved around having no sleep at all and that she rarely had days off. According to Yabes, writing during their time forced writers to explain their stories to the whole world, which demanded a lot of background information.

“You can get fired for little things. We don’t have similar standards because of the situation at that time. It was martial law,” she said.

Yabes added that witnessing the EDSA revolution “was a bright, bright, bright shining moment” and helped her realize the foundation she needed to become a journalist.

“I think [that] each story, whatever you do [and] whatever you write, has a life of its own; it might be published right away, or it might be a long time before it gets published,” said Yabes, adding that creative writers should be patient with their works.

Yabes’ first novel, Below the Crying Mountain, won the UP Centennial Literary Prize and was nominated for the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize.

Her latest dystopian novella, Barcelona, was launched in 2023. It revolves around a woman who leads a group of orphans at the height of the drug war in Manila.

Creative Writing majors participated in Yabes’ lecture, including the UST MaKatha Circle, which was also attended by her publisher, Nida Ramirez. – Franz Zoe Stoelzl Baroña

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