Backstory: Five Questions with Ryle Lagonsin

Mount Makiling view (Tagaytay, Cavite)

Backstory: Five Questions with Ryle Lagonsin
Author of The Lost, Independencia

What inspired you to write ‘The Lost, Independencia’?

Usually, though not by intention, my writing is influenced by the places that I am fond of. The fact that I often stay in Tagaytay is the main reason why I chose it as the setting in my original draft. The first part of my story was actually drawn from one particular evening that I was there, looking out at the mountains. I used to have astigmatism and my eyes cannot adjust well to dusk, so while I was squinting at the view that time, I kept imagining that the shadowy specks I was seeing in the distance were people walking along the ridges. I’d kept the memory as a note in my phone for a while. When I read it again later on, I had the idea to associate failing vision with memory; the interplay of colours, what we see with our eyes open or closed — I thought something more concrete could be created from these things.

Were there any interesting facts, details, or turns of phrase that didn’t quite make the final piece?

Originally, this piece was significantly darker and involved themes of domestic violence and sexism, all under the umbrella of war.  I had intended to interpret another kind of freedom within the timeframe of the country’s proclamation of independence, but decided against it in the end. Perhaps, addressing guilt instead of anger in such a situation could be a more effective angle for this story.

How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?

To be honest, I think I drew from sentiment a bit more than I did research. It’s why the story ended up emphasizing feeling more than specific facts. “What” and “who” are, more often than not, easier to answer than “why” and “how.” In this case, I wanted futile remorse and resignation to carry more weight, than outright identifying the people involved. If there was anything that surprised me over the process of writing this, it was seeing how rage drained slowly away from the first draft; it was like I became more forgiving towards my characters with each revision.

What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?

The first and (oftentimes) last part of the writing process is the most fun. It’s the middle part — the actual writing that is the most excruciating. Gathering ideas, to me, is always exciting because there is plenty of stimuli out there. But when I start to spin the threads into something useful and acceptable, that’s when I lose control. Right now, I’m still trying to improve how I lose control. At some point, I realise that I’ve to get used to it because without it, I wouldn’t get to my other favourite bit which is the “having written” part of the process. Having a finished story, knowing it came out from some part of yourself, and being satisfied with it — that’s what I love the most.

What do you like most about writing flash?

The best thing about writing flash is how surreal the experience can get. You get to compress entire worlds into a single bite, which could be pretty daunting but, at the same time, because the flash community largely encourages diversity and openness, there is always an opportunity for a piece of writing to be given attention and to be understood.

Ryle Lagonsin is a writer from Laguna, Philippines. Her writing has been published by Bolivian Express Magazine, Virtual Zine, and Back Patio Press, among others. Currently, she cannot be found on social media.

View of Mount Makiling from Tagaytay City, Cavite photographed by Patrick Roque, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.