I have always been good at expressing my thoughts in writing and never had a problem with composition and reading classes. Writing and reading were water to my fish.
Unfortunately, I was also my worst enemy.
Normally a very introverted and insecure person, I could not expose my innermost thoughts to the world, so I kept my poetry and stories to myself. Until some teachers noticed. I began confiding in some very sympathetic teachers when I was in fifth grade and the poetry was literally gushing out of me. Since then, I found greater encouragement from my English teachers. Then I found THE English teacher who really believed in me and nurtured my writing. I also found another teacher who would let me spill out the contents of my mind and heart to her and I found even more to write about. Still, the only public writing I produced were more impersonal essays. Need I say I even became an excellent public speaker because of my writing? Of course, there had always been that passion for theatre and the secret longing to become a stage actress, director, and playwright, that helped that along. But that’s a different story.
Because of my English teacher and other English teachers, plus an aunt who is a writer that I had secretly admired and wanted to be like, I dared to join a Creative Writing Fellowship at the top University in the Philippines. For two summers, I attended, first as an observer, then as a participant, where my creative writing was up for criticism. I survived and not without a lot of encouragement and some praise from my aunt for a story she didn’t know was written by me.
After several years of putting writing in the background, simply because I needed a job that gave me a steady income, I decided to write again. This time, I shared it with great trepidation to two of my dearest friends, both artists and literarily inclined. If not for them, I would never have submitted my play to the most prestigious National literary competition, the Carlos Palanca Foundation Annual Literary Awards. Finding out that I had received the third place for full-length plays in English was a totally shocking but also totally satisfying experience.
Migrating to Canada put writing as a career on hold, especially since I eventually had to find work that was a far cry from what I went to school for, even if the plan was for me to become a full-time artist and writer.
After 4 tumultuous and emotionally draining years, I finally decided to put myself out there in the open, beginning with a solo art exhibit that feature my art and my poetry. Then I decided to plunge into National Novel Writing Month, since I had become unemployed anyway and had the time to do it. (Because of employment, I did not dare try for the Labour Day weekend novel writing competitions, and I really doubted I could finish a novel in three days.) I was determined to finally write that novel–and I did.
I still doubt myself, even after sharing parts of my novel with several other writers in the Next Best Author contest, which I was also scared to join, but which I decided I would do anyway, because I really wanted to launch my career as an author. Because of NaNoWriMo, there was no way I could hide the fact that I had completed a novel–besides, I had publicized it all over Facebook among all my friends, and they were cheering me on. Another dear friend even offered to edit my book, just so she could read it, and her words and support have been very encouraging. I have found still more friends who are also writers and am now active with not one, but two writing groups, plus a third support group made up of the other contestants! That was probably the most pleasant and rewarding surprise: that competitors were becoming friends in writing through sharing in an exclusive group just for the contestants! Now, I have writer friends around the world who are willing to talk, to listen, to share, to read, to mentor, to encourage and to support each other.
If this is the writing life, I want to stay in it! It is already much more than I had dreamed it would be.
Who knows what other dreams will come true?