Perfection is the enemy of the good

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…or so my graduate thesis adviser kept telling me. That, and “It’s better to be done than perfect.”

I think I’m doing pretty well with holding the procrastination dogs at bay. Sorta. I didn’t write yesterday (other than on several blogs and a few emails), but I did get some good research done. Am reading City in the Sun, an old book I found in our local library about the Japanese-American internment camps during WW2. Heartbreaking story, and one that hasn’t been explored enough in the mainstream media. Given recent debates about immigration, not to mention the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hysteria in the years after 9/11, one would think that this painful part of American history would serve as a relevant lesson for all of us.

My main character, despite his ethnicity, doesn’t really experience the horrors of the camp, as he remains overseas throughout the war. However, his family does, hence the research. In addition, the whole relocation issue reveals much about American attitudes towards Asians in general and the Japanese in particular even before the war, so despite his physical distance from the crisis, Thomas will still be heavily influenced by it.

One story in particular that I read yesterday concerned Cat Island, a training camp in Mississippi that served as the location of a horrific Army experiment that pitted unwitting Japanese-American soldiers against rabid dogs. Apparently, the theory was that the Japanese must have a different smell from lily-white Americans, so why not train dogs to sniff out the bloody Nips and flush them out of the jungle?

Well, as you can imagine, the experiment proved the fallacy of that theory, and it ended with many of the soldiers being hospitalized for dog bites and given rabies shots. As we all know, of course, these soldiers went on to become part of the most decorated unit in the history of the United States military, despite being literally treated like dogshit by their own government.

As William Shakespeare once said: Unbe-fucking-lievable.

Anyway

I wrote another three pages of the play today. Or, should I say, I’ve rewritten the first 12 pages of the original 1st draft, including three pages today. I’ve gotten feedback from some more people on the forum, with some conflicting advice. A few suggested that I add more action to the scene, while another was adamant that I leave that to the director and focus on the dialogue. As I’ve rewritten it, I’ve probably swung too far in the opposite direction and provided more action than is necessary, but I’m optimistic that these are all just part of the learning process. I do think that this is new, improved version actually does sound stronger than the original. I’ve streamlined much of the dialogue and introduced more tension between Linda and Noelle than was evident in the first draft. Plus, I think I’ve resolved the whole issue of Noelle’s voice (English or Tagalog? American or Filipino?) and will stick with having her dialogue sound American while still conveying a Filipino sensibility.

I realize that that’s a tricky tightrope to maneuver, and I don’t think I’ve wholly succeeded, but it’ll have to do, given the limitations of thinking in one language and speaking in another without sounding like an impostor of both. The true test for me would be to see if both Filipino and American readers/audiences can empathize with the characters’ story and not question their authenticity.

One thing I have learned from this process is the realization that, while the Philippine culture has been heavily influenced by America, it’s clear that there are just some things that will always be lost in translation.

No writing or research tonight, ’cause there’s a new episode of The Office! Last week’s episode was quite possibly the best ever, with a howler of a cliffhanger. I loved the way the different teams carried out their respective sales calls, all of which turned out differently from the way I or B. expected. I especially loved the fact that, contrary to one would assume, Dwight and Jim really do work well together — that is, when they’re not plotting each other’s mental breakdown.

MRA

2 thoughts on “Perfection is the enemy of the good

  1. Hi, <>timbear2020<>! Thanks for stopping by!Yup, I’m a true-blue Pinay. I was last home back in early 2002 and spent a few days in Makati, in an “apartelle” on Ayala Avenue. Such a cool place, I have to admit. Still has tons of traffic, and the sheer number of people is overwhelming, but I love the energy. I guess I’ll always be a Manila Girl.I would love to go to Cebu. My mom and late dad were there a billion years ago, and I hear that it’s a beautiful place. So many places to go, so little time.Cheers,Marjorie

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