It’s a gift when young people figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives. It means they can prepare for that skill much earlier and actually enjoy the whole process of learning.
I was one of those young people. I knew from early on that I loved writing. The problem with knowing that you love writing – and you want to be a writer when you grew up – is the constant practical advice I got from people around me. Because we all know that writing (and a lot of artistic work for that matter) doesn’t pay. Well, not much anyway.
I was always told to have a back up plan, just in case. So I did journalism, but that doesn’t pay that well either. So there you go. Financial gains aside, there were several things I was doing when I was young that made me realise I was heading toward a writing profession.
I read and write a lot
Even as a child I loved libraries. I loved borrowing books, I loved reading them and smelling them. When I was in gradeschool, my teacher told me to go outside during recess instead of reading on my own inside the classroom. So I took my Nancy Drew book and sat outside to read while the others played. Technically I followed her instructions, although she probably meant ‘go out and play’. I would read one book after the other, only hindered by the fact that the public library closed at night. This reading frenzy was almost always followed by a writing frenzy. I filled notebook after notebook with my stories. Some were original (but also rubbish) while others were alternative endings of books I just read.
My head is filled with characters
I had conversations in my head that kept me company all the time. And I still do even today. When I walked home from school, when I rode public transport, when I did chores or played with my friends, I always had a dialogue in my head. I placed people around me in ‘what if’ situations and thought about what these people would say or do to each other. As a kid, the situations I had in my head were juvenile – and always had a happy ending. Creating stories with joyous endings helped me cope with issues like poverty and animal cruelty. At one point I did wonder if other kids had the same thing going on in their heads. But I never asked anyone else for fear they’d think I was insane.
I can’t stop
The one sure thing I knew that told me I was supposed to be a writer was this: I’ve never stopped writing. Even during the time when I had no laptop, I used pen and paper to write things down. Despite my handwriting looking like chicken scratches, I still wrote. And it is still the same today. When on holiday, lying somewhere at the beach or in the middle of a dead zone with no signal, I take my phone and open Notepad to write down something I didn’t want to forget. I could type a whole chapter using just my thumbs, zipping through my phone’s keypad like I was possessed by demons. I just can’t stop.
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When you finally accept what you’re supposed to be doing, things have a way of falling into place. I self-published two children’s picture books, then my debut novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, was published by Anvil Publishing. It received so much love from readers that it has gone to reprint. I am also excited to announce that book two, The Girl Between Light and Dark, is coming out soon. Yes, things finally fell into place.
What about you? Have you figured out what you really want to do?