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Christine Marie Lim Magpile on the Process of Writing, Mentoring, and Critical Engagement

By A. L. Sarino

Christine Marie Lim Magpile is a Filipino writer and was a fellow at the 2023 DLSU Young Screenwriters Workshop, 2019 Kritika La Salle National Workshop on Art and Cultural Criticism, 2018 Angono Summer Writers Workshop, 2008 UST National Writers Workshop, and 2007 LIRA Poetry Workshop. She won Third Place for Tanaga and Third Place for the Essay of the Year from the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. Magpile was a finalist for the Word of the Year (2010, 2014, and 2016).

How do you prepare yourself before writing a new manuscript?

"Preparing for a new manuscript can both be exciting and daunting. Here are a few things I do to get myself ready:

Christine Marie Lim Magpile
Photo: Christine Marie Lim Magpile

Before embarking on a new manuscript, I take some time off to relax and recharge. This practice allows me to return to my writing with fresh eyes, a clear mind, and renewed energy. I firmly believe that reading is one of the most effective ways to enhance one's writing skills. Prior to delving into a new manuscript, I immerse myself in the genre I'm writing, gaining a sense of existing works and identifying opportunities for innovation.

Depending on the subject matter of my manuscript, I conduct thorough research to ensure accuracy and currency of facts. This, in turn, aids in crafting a more realistic and believable story. I am a staunch advocate of outlining before commencing a new manuscript. Creating a detailed outline encompassing the plot, characters, and setting helps me maintain organization and focus throughout the writing process.

Lastly, I set specific goals for myself before embarking on a new manuscript. These could be word count targets, deadlines, or other objectives. Establishing goals serves as a constant source of motivation, keeping me on track as I write."

Who are your main inspirations when it comes to writing? How does their influence manifest in your work?

"As a writer, I draw inspiration from various sources, ranging from other writers to everyday life. When it comes to naming specific influences, my parents top the list. Growing up, both were avid readers and storytellers, instilling in me a love for language and a fascination with the power of storytelling. Their influence echoes in my work through the use of imagery, metaphor, and exploration of themes like family, identity, and belonging.

I firmly believe that inspiration can be found anywhere and in anyone. It's about opening yourself up to the world. Whether it's a conversation with a stranger, as long as you find something in them, they will always serve as inspiration for your writing."

Do you think that ingenuity is a requirement in literary writing? Or is the conventional lens enough?

"I firmly believe that creativity is paramount in literary writing. While conventional lenses offer a solid foundation for storytelling, it is the unique and creative perspectives that truly distinguish great writers. For aspiring writers, it's crucial to experiment with different styles, techniques, and viewpoints to discover their own voice and, of course, to generate fresh ideas.

Don't be afraid from taking risks and embracing challenges; often, unconventional ideas lead to something truly unique. Over time, this willingness to explore the uncharted territory of creativity allows one to craft memorable and impactful stories."

What is your opinion on the death of the author? How do you suggest we interact with art from infamous artists?

"I believe that once a work of art is released, it takes on a life of its own. While understanding an artist's intentions can be insightful, it's equally important to allow the audience the freedom to interpret and engage with art on their terms.

Dealing with the legacy of infamous artists is a delicate matter. For me, it's essential to appreciate the artistic merit while acknowledging that artists, like everyone, can have flaws. Embracing the beauty and complexity of art, it's crucial, especially for young writers, to be open to critical thinking.

As artists, whether emerging or well-established, we should recognize that while art is inherently a creative pursuit, we must approach our work with a critical and professional mindset."

What are your core principles when mentoring emerging artists?

"First and foremost, mentoring budding writers is always an honor. Mentoring an emerging artist is a privilege and, at the same time, a responsibility that I hold dear. My core principles revolve around creating a safe and supportive space for growth. While I encourage my mentees to take risks and push their creative boundaries, I firmly believe in the power of constructive feedback, as well as celebrating successes.

Fostering a sense of community and collaboration is crucial, as there's always something to learn from each other. Lastly, I consistently emphasize the importance of finding joy in the creative process. Writing should be a fun and meaningful journey for my mentees, making the learning process enjoyable."

What is your advice to emerging writers?

"My advice to emerging writers is straightforward: the more you write, the better you become. Don't shy away from experimenting with different styles and genres. While there may be failures along the way, don't let the fear of failure impede your drive. Challenges and obstacles are inevitable, but they shouldn't deter you from the act of writing itself.

Even the greatest writers faced rejection at some point in their lives. To continually hone your craft, actively seek feedback from trusted sources. If there are writers who inspire you, reach out to them. Most writers are willing to share advice and insights.

As a teacher, I emphasize the importance of reading as one of the most effective ways to improve writing. It exposes you to different perspectives and techniques. Writing is undoubtedly challenging, but with perseverance and passion, you can achieve your goals and leave a mark on the literary world."

Photo: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House
Photo: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House

Magpie features in Aruga: Mga Sanaysay ng Pagtanggap at Paglingap (UST Publishing House: 2023), which is edited by Rommel Rodriguez and Ferdinand Pisigan Jarin. The anthology is a collection of personal essays that draw from the unique articulations of “ care” in Filipino culture.


Social Media

Twitter: @CMLMagpile


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