NOTE: I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been curious about how writers started. Well, here is my story, if you’re interested. I thought I’d start with this post (well, technically, this is the second post…) as it’s a good introduction of myself as a writer.
I have always loved stories, that is the clear and honest truth. It is the reason why I began to write. It is the reason why even in my own dreams, I make up stories and watch how they unfold. Perhaps, more than a writer, I am actually a pen-toting storyteller. But it wasn’t always like that. When I was small, I used to have this ritual. At night, I would lie in bed and imagine stories in my head, stories of adventure and drama—oh, I was such a masochist, making myself cry and loving it!—until I fell asleep. Which is probably why they made it in my dreams. I don’t daydream anymore, but I can’t say I don’t dream of movies still. And in colors!
I started with writing, though, by writing literally. In school, we had handwriting exercises and we tried to write legibly, neatly and nicely. My penmanship still leaves much to be desired, but no matter. I know I enjoyed writing, enjoyed the letters perhaps because they presented to me a whole lot of possibilities. I felt liberated for some reason. That was during second grade. The next year, I wrote my first story.
Well, technically first. It was about a horror story writer who was no good in his so-called craft and couldn’t get published until he unwittingly sold his soul to the devil. Things then went really well, except the devil made him pay for his part of the bargain in the end.
Would’ve been quite an interesting piece from such a novice writer if only it was not a story I read from one of the Tagalog (a Filipino dialect) comic books that were already near extinction back then. My version ironically made my parents (and me) laugh. So much for horror. Just imagine a story ending with the word “typewriting” — that should kill the story, ha ha!
I really enjoyed writing exercises in grade school especially when we had to summarize stories that we were made to read. I may have misconstrued summary as re-telling, though. But I did write my first stories within the next years.
I was still quite “un-well-versed” and not sure how to go about creative writing properly, so my early works were in script form written on extra notebook sheets. That was probably because I was too impatient and wanted to do it fast, and I loved reading the short plays found in our textbooks. I also loved to watch TV that my first stuff had characters from a well-known sentai (Japanese live action shows for kids) and those from a local action-comedy movie intended for teens and pre-teens. My own plots, but the characters were not my own. There is a term for that now: fan fiction.
Seems like I have always been partial to adventure, be it action or fantasy. My road to the world of adventures got temporarily sidetracked, however, when I entered high school. You know high school, it exposes you to crushes and drama. Soon enough, I was writing romantic dialogues, words that I thought I fully understood. No more fan fiction. However, my plots were shallow, trying-hard-to-be-mature, and unoriginal, culled unintentionally from TV and movies. I did find a technique, which was to “have” actors “act” in my stories as I imagined them.
Despite that foray into pretentious writing (by “pretentious,” I am referring to my own writing), high school actually brought me to newer heights. I started my first non-fan fiction (supposedly) action-adventure, a detective story called Ticay where a young girl was a secret agent. My father happened to see that one though I wasn’t sure how much he got to read. He mentioned it to me because I think he saw what little of the draft I wrote when I decided to throw it away. After the horror-thingy, I had not let my family read my stuff.
Meanwhile, I wrote my first poems then, which made me think deeper about things and study myself more. I was uncomfortable about writing poetry before simply because I thought poetry was only for smart people. I realized that it was more for people to understand themselves and the world. Around this time, I began composing and experimenting with songs as well, themes ranging from friendship, social relevance and, what else? Love, or the lack of it. Still, storytelling was/is my first love and it was swell getting some kind of recognition as a writer. I was soon given tasks to write scripts for group and class presentations. That started when a friend volunteered for me when our Literature teacher asked, “Okay, who will write the scripts?” The wheels started turning.
High school was really the highlight of my writing “career” and I somehow had Bantam Books’ Sweet Dreams (S.D.) to thank for. Even back in gradeschool, and I knew this because of my big sister, the old S.D. was still the romance book of choice for teens. The same was somewhat still true when I got to that stage. I began to dream of being a novelist and S.D. fanned this desire in me because, aside from I loved to write, I realized one thing: the endings were mostly so predictable. In fact, you could guess the stories based on what were written at the back alone. I thought, hey, if they could do it, so could I!
I would write my own S.D.-like stories and hopefully submit to them. So I did write (though not submit mainly because I had no idea how). I believed in the idea so much that I created my own series called Roseville Books and it even had its own simple logo. In a span of a little more than a year, I wrote seven—I repeat, SEVEN—novelettes! Wow…I had never been so inspired, so prolific in my entire life, ever! It was a feat that I unfortunately have not been able to duplicate. I laugh now when I re-read them, but that stage was still good training ground for me, judging from how my characters and plots grew with more depth and maturity.
Too bad I became busy with school that my eighth Roseville book, as well as some other stories that were mostly SciFi (my friend Raine and I were obsessing over Star Trek then) were left unfinished. College life then started and everything seemed to be in boring, uninspiring slow motion. I was able to write a few songs and poems, but not short stories, or the eighth Roseville Book, or the unfinished novel called King Arthur’s Daughter. All I had were all drafts that kept accumulating and lists of fictitious names.
When I joined the school paper, it was only then did I get to concentrate again on short stories/vignettes. Campus journalism was a whole new ball game and I had to dabble in-between creative and journalistic writing. It seemed that writing became an evolution for me. My Development Communication degree taught me to write for various media, including for radio. I found that though there are obvious differences in the technical aspects, there are not much differences when you write for film, radio, and other stuff. Only a few adjustments and change or additional terminologies to consider.
These knowledge gained were particularly of use to me when I worked for a tertiary school as scriptwriter-producer of (mostly) their institutional videos. I also had the privilege to join a writing-for-film workshop under the great Armando “Bing” Lao. Who would have thought that story-writing could be scientific as well? Honing my chosen craft and wishing to learn further, I joined several writing groups and blogs online. Meanwhile, while these were going on, my dream of becoming a published writer was not diminished. This dream was realized when I joined The Big C magazine team where I became the editorial assistant and staff writer. I not only wrote, edited and proofread, but got to learn more about cancer that I could ever imagine.
Still, the “novel idea” is yet to see fruition, an idea I’ve had before I finished school. It is said that we should write what we know. And so I try to find more information as much I can to make it work. I did use to stress over it, but now, I try to take it in stride. Stress does not solve anything and if I die without ever publishing any book, so be it. Meanwhile, I try to finish a whole lot more in my collection of unfinished “business.”
Currently, I write content for the web. For those unfamiliar with the actual meaning of “web content writer,” the job mainly entails writing articles and information you read from businesses’ websites and blogs. For instance, if you were new to WordPress and would like to know what it’s all about and how you should go about things, you go to WordPress.com and the information they provide have been written by their web content writers, not any random writer or blogger who simply wants to write about WordPress.
I still love fantasy, suspense and adventure, with my interests lying on psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, psychoses, the paranormal, forensic science and other things that boggle the mind. I will never stop writing. Take a hiatus every now and then, perhaps, but never really leave it.
Fiction, essays, poems, songs—they all have their stories. It is just a matter of knowing how and what to write.
Comic book images in collage credited to/found in:
Komiklopedia (for Tagalog Klasiks)
ComicBookMovie.com (for Pilipino Komiks)
Video48 (for the ff.: Hiwaga Komiks, Espesyal Komiks, Extra Komiks)
en.wikipilipinas.org (for Universal Komiks-Magazine and Halakhak Komiks)
So that’s how this writer evolved. How about you? What is your writer’s story? Let us know. Let’s exchange stories 🙂