Post Script to Dr. Luis "Tito Dok" Gatmatan's Author Interview
Through the interview, Dr. Gatmaitan has given us a glimpse of how far hard work can take a person. He stated in one of the answers he gave: “It’s not enough that you have a gift of being able to write creatively. You’ve got to hone this talent and make it grow.” He started writing at a young age, especially when his teachers would ask him to write about a certain theme (i.e. What was your favorite summer experience?) That, as well as his exposure to different kinds of literature, is what shaped him to be the writer that he is today. While balancing school--from high school to medical school--his success in writing did not diminish. Instead, with the opportunities he had been given, such as being the editor-in-chief of his medical school’s official publication, CADUCEUS, he was able to further develop his skills as a writer. He also told us that the struggles we face as writers should never be enough to stop us from writing. Instead, the struggles we face should be a driving force for us to become better than our current selves. Those struggles should merely serve as a reminder to not repeat the mistakes we make and to strive beyond our limitations.
|Tito Dok with friends at the press launch of RtR Books|
Dr. Gatmaitan has also encouraged us to go beyond what we think we are capable of and to allow ourselves to think outside of the box. According to him, being inspired should not be limited to the things that we experience ourselves or the things that we see or observe. To be able to write something well, we need to be able to fully immerse ourselves in what is going on around us, even in those events that we may dismiss as insignificant and mundane. At times, it is in those events that we are able to write a beautiful story. One example is Dr. Gatmaitan’s experience with a cancer survivor who was more worried about losing hair than battling leukemia. She had become the inspiration for his story Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Rachel.
Dr. Gatmaitan also let us know that once we have already come up with an idea, there is no need to follow a specific, definite process while writing the story. He himself does not follow an exact procedure. Instead, he writes a general outline of how he wants the story to go, which makes the piece unified and coherent. He said that being overly cautious about the way we write can turn into a hindrance; we must simply let our ideas flow on their own. We realized that Dr. Gatmaitan was right, because if we limit ourselves to a certain process, it is possible that our stories will be too “straight,” or no different from other stories that have already been written. His words encouraged us to allow our creative juices to flow and to not be afraid of popularly established rules that could bind us.
Last but not the least, when we asked Dr. Gatmaitan what advice he would like to give aspiring writers and creative writing students, he said “to read a lot (both fiction and non-fiction). To be very observant. To capture moments of epiphany in print. To jot down the ideas immediately when they come to you. To write every single day.” These words strike anew the spirit of writing and the heart behind it. Since writing is his passion, he never stops doing it and finds it in every walk of his life. With these words, he reminds us to never tire of our passions and of our desire to touch the lives of other people. He said that despite the struggles he has faced, he never tires of writing because it gives him joy. “Writing is like breathing,” he said. “If you stop to breathe, you die.” In the same way, whether it be writing, painting, designing, singing, teaching, analyzing data, balancing the balance sheet, etc., our passion will only keep burning if we keep fueling the fire. In everything we do, we must work at it with all that we can, in every possible time, and in any possible way. Then that day will come when we too will succeed in sharing that passion with others.
Just like Dr. Gatmaitan, we can start small and let our success speak louder. We do not have to aim to be big; only our impact in this world should be. Either way, what matters most is allowing our passion and enthusiasm to keep burning and letting that flame make a difference in the world--a world that always needs a little more life and color.