Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How to Win the Palanca Without Even Writing Part I

I will be doing a weekly column on this (in this column every other week and in the centerfold in the rest). My late friend Butch Guerrero and me were about to be hired as country publishers for a big publisher in India until talks got around money. Anyway, one of the book ideas we peddled was "How to Win in the Palanca" to be written by two of our friends. Since our career as publishers was scuttled, I decided to stay with this for the time being.
The Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature is the country's version of the Pulitzer Prize, according to one broadsheet. True or not, it is the longest-running literary awards, having been established in 1950.  
So before we start, answer this: Are you in this for the money? If you answer, Yes. Go back to your line at the lotto. First prize in Palanca can get you to start a house BUT that was in 1950. The prize money has remained almost the same as it was more than half a century ago so don't bother with the money. You will be spending more for your preparation. Hope that scared half of my readers.
If you are still with me, that's good. Our emphasis is to win and not just to participate.  
The deadline for this year would be on the end of April. More specifically at 11:59 PM of April 30. The CPJ Building or wherever it is now would be filled with established and unknown writers personally submitting their manuscripts at 11:59 PM or even on the 59th second. There is a superstition that the last to submit usually places so timing is everything. Then the writers go back to their drinking.
Those in the provinces or abroad would have to submit their earlier. Now they submit it through email but back then, you have to send through registered mail or courier. Despite this convenience, I still know some writers abroad who would email their works to a trusted accomplice who would them print the manuscripts and rush them at 11:59 PM of the deadline day. Because of that superstition.
Back then, the deadline was in May 31 which was better because this was a month after the UP and the Silliman Workshops so the works had been workshopped before they are sent. The teachers also would have that time to work on their manuscripts. There is this oft-repeated story of a poet who wrote his epic poem in Dumaguete with the May 31 deadline in mind. Sending his work on time, he took the next trip to nervous breakdown land.Palanca decided to turn back the clock to April 30 there were more submissions but it wasn't the same for some.  
A writer in search of Palanca should red-letter April 30 in their Starbucks planner. And they should plan their lives accordingly to that deadline. If they lose this year, they should red letter  it in their Starbucks 2015 planner. and in the 2016 planner until it is tattooed on your mind.
I heard of some older writers who would suddenly be anxious by April and then start writing their manuscripts in time for the May 31 deadline until they were reminded by their sons and apos that the deadline has been moved to April 30. But creativity has its own deadline that reason cannot comprehend.
So you are luckier because you have yet to acquire the Palanca Deadline habit.
Starting today is just about right. You have two months to work on. Some people would take their leave on the second month and we would know among us who is preparing for Palanca when they are subdued in their drinking. Or holding a notebook or even writing on napkins. Now they must be typing on their iPads. So if you have writer friends who act like they are having a secret love affair from March to April, they are preparing for Panagbenga. If they act like they were jilted come late August, you are sure of that.
Because Palanca is a difficult lover,  frustrating, fickle, foolish but definitely worth the affair. Now if you only know where to begin.  (next column: Setting your sight)


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