starting from zero

Late 1990s

I fell in love with English back in 6th grade when our school administrator became our Grammar teacher. She made all grammar rules sensible and understandable, but my English still sucked at that time.

At that time, the books I only owned were my school textbooks and children’s story books. At that time, I consumed my time watching Filipino TV shows and Filipino-dubbed animes. My sister kept on insisting I read more books and watch English TV shows, because the best way to learn a language is to expose yourself to it.

She was right.

Early 2000s

English became a huge part of my life in high school. I was studying in an all-girls school. In the Philippines, there’s a stereotype that goes around that students in all-girls schools and all-boys schools only speak in English. Of course, that’s an exaggeration.

When I got there, I learned that the girls don’t speak English all the time. They still used Filipino – actually, Taglish (Tagalog-English/Filipino-English) is the main language of the school. However, when they’re called to speak in English, they can speak in English.

Another thing I learned (which the judgmental people outside the all-girls school community didn’t mention or probably have no idea about) is, unlike in the grade school where I came from where students’ past times are just playing and watching animes, students in all-girls schools read books. A LOT OF BOOKS.

It was 2001 – the first Harry Potter movie was scheduled to hit the theaters. Before that year, I didn’t know what and who Harry Potter was. All I knew was it was a book and the Catholic church hated it.

A friend invited me to watch it with her. Unfortunately, I was the girl who wasn’t allowed to go to malls without her parents and I was the girl who failed her English subject because she didn’t took the practical exam for her Speech class which was to speak in front of her classmates.

I was grounded.

It was somehow sad because I thought could finally learn who Harry Potter is without having to read the book. Up to that point, I was still clueless about the whole HP phenomenon.

My Mom got an idea. It was pretty clever. She bought me my first ever book: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” She thought it would help me learn who Harry Potter was and improve my English.

As the cliched English idiom goes, it’s killing two birds with one stone.

It worked.

I read the book. I still remember how I repeatedly read the first paragraph of the first chapter because I wasn’t so sure if I was understanding it. It was my first time reading a full-length novel. I was scared. I was intimidated. I was thinking I would never finish it.

Good thing, JK Rowling was amazing.

After getting over the initial “shock” of reading the first page of my first full-length novel, the rest of reading journey went on smoothly.

I was absorbed in the Harry Potter universe that JK Rowling had awesomely created. I wish I could really be in there and never would have to leave.

I was still a slow reader, then. I had to sleep early because of school. I had homework every time I came home. It took me a week or two to finish the book.

That’s how my love for reading started.

While waiting for the 5th HP book, I picked up Sarah Dessen, R.L. Stine and some others. I was introduced to fan fiction (I love Harry/Hermione and Draco/Hermione stories – my greatest frustrations). I was addicted to reading.

Late 2000s

Writing started when I was in college.

(My writing skills back in high school was totally nonexistent. When our Filipino teacher required as to write a short story, I went to Fanfiction.net and looked for some HP fic I could translate into Filipino for the said homework.)

I can’t remember anymore what day it was. All I can recall was it was 2008. I was in class, bored to my wits. I was addicted to the anime called The Prince of Tennis. I was reading a lot of PoT fan fics – I was a Perfect Pair shipper (Tezuka Kunimitsu/Fuji Syusuke) and, sometimes, others. I was having my own PoT scenarios in my head and they won’t shut up.

Out of nowhere, I started writing my first fan fiction. It wasn’t a love story. It was just a character-centric one. It’s a cringe-worthy story (not because it was badly written – though I admit my grammar back then was still atrocious, but because the story was dumb), but I posted it online. There were a few reads (and fewer reviews) but I wasn’t discouraged.

I wrote a love story after.

They were short stories at first. Then, they became chaptered ones. I wrote about my favorite ship, then I started experimenting with original female characters. Sadly, when I was already doing this, I started working and didn’t have enough time to focus on those stories anymore.

It’s impossible to finish an unfinished story if you leave it for a long time. Your mindset as a writer changes. Your writing style changes. Your vision for stories changes. Trying to go back to how you were “feeling” and “thinking” when you started your story is an almost impossible feat.

Early 2010s

I didn’t stop writing. Writing continued after college.

However, I moved to a different fandom.

I left the anime world and relocated to the KPOP universe. Though it was already 2010 when I started writing for KPOP, my KPOP obsession started way back in 2003 – back in the days of dial-up internet.

There, it was back to scratch.

Writing for an anime is easier, there’s a plot and an existing story. In KPOP, there are only characters – the artists. The only story you have is the news about them, the circulating anecdotes about them. I did write stories using real events as plots, but I couldn’t just focus on them only.

I had to learn how to make an original world, universe, reality for KPOP artists in my head.

I turned them to other things – students, parents, actors, angels, kings, princes, detectives, robots, etc.

Writing for KPOP did improve me as a writer.

2015

I decided to write my first original story.

(Okay, I did try to write an original story back in high school. After the translated HP fic incident that my teacher never seemed to have noticed. I can still remember the name of my main character – it was Dylan. However, I wasn’t able to finish it and I didn’t have enough confidence for it.)

It was November and I learned about this thing called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) from the authors I was following on Twitter. It’s a website you had to sign up to and, when you join, you had to write a 50,000-word novel in the whole of November. It seemed fun and even though it was already 3rd of November, I jumped in to join the excitement.

I already had an idea in mind. It was supposed to be a fan fic, but I decided to just write it as an original story. I reached the word count by the end of November. However, since the goal was just to write a 50,000-word novel, the whole thing was a mess.

2016

When New Year came, I told myself that I would get my novel published.

I planned to proofread and edit the whole thing starting in January. I was already looking and asking about publishers online.

However, laziness got in the way…

…and so are other things.

I lost my passion for writing. The three chaptered fan fics I was working on that time were all left hanging (and so were my readers). The only writing I did during those dark times was the letters and messages I was sending to a friend of mine.

I wasn’t reading any book. The reading I only did was the re-reading of the first four Harry Potter books and KPOP fan fics.

I got depressed.

Everything was left unfinished.

However, I had enough sense to decide that I should shift my focus on something – someone – more important: GOD.

2017

I created this blog.

Before 2016 ended, I said I will get myself back on track.

January: I jumpstarted my reading with Chris Tiegreen’s devotional book called “Hearing God’s Voice” and two other devotional books. I also read my first book for a long while – Mara Wilson’s “Where Am I Now?”

February: I attended my first writing workshop – How to Write Love Stories. I finally got to writing again.

March: I realized I don’t have the heart and appetite for books with steamy elements – thanks to Colleen Hoover’s “Ugly Love,” which I had to take deep breaths now and then just to get me through. Then, thanks to three-day encounter the church organized and through the 90 Days Challenge, I started reading the New Testament of the Bible.

April: I skipped several writing workshops because they were on Sundays and I could never put anything before God on Sundays. Reading Victoria Aveyard’s “King’s Cage” became really hard for me as well. It’s so full of unforgiveness, revenge, anger, and all things that the Bible told me to never dwell on. I was so focused on the things I was learning from my devotions, cell group and church that writing was put on hold again.

May: My love for inspirational and Christian books also started. I wasn’t writing still but I also realized there are still love stories that I can read like Jenny Han’s “Always and Forever, Lara Jean.”

June: I encouraged a friend who doesn’t like reading to read books. I lent Cecilia Ahern’s “Love, Rosie” and Colleen Hoover’s “Maybe Someday” to a friend at work. Another friend at work asked me read Bryn Greenwood’s “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” but couldn’t finish it because my heart was continuously protesting against the things the book stands for.

JulyI finished the New Testament. Also, after a three-month writing hiatus, I started updating this blog again. I was convicted to write again after several devotions talked about putting God’s gifts to use and after our pastor preached about work on our God-given talents that would give us value (and eventually success) in the future.

August: I attended National Bookstore’s “The Philippine Readers and Writers Festival 2017” just this weekend (an event that I’ve been planning to go to since 2015) and I sat down to several talks about writing. I met amazing and interesting Filipino authors like Nikki Alfar, Mina V. Esguerra, Samatha Sotto, and Bebang Siy (my favorite). Also, before the event, I deleted all my fan fictions from the internet. I realized they can’t exist anymore. I misused my gift of writing to spread wrong ideas of love and lust.

— — —

I’m happy that it’s been good so far. I have been writing a bit constantly. Ideas for blog posts are pouring. Though I’m struggling with something I can’t identify right now, the drive to write is strongly present. I have so much yearning when it comes to my writing. I’m constantly lifting this dreams up to God, praying and hoping that He would continue to fuel this passion and gift that He had given me. I aim to use my gift to advance His kingdom. I’m not a good speaker, I talk better with written words, this is the best way I know how to honor and glorify Him (for now).

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time to “work”

Last January, I made this blog and swore to myself that this wouldn’t be ignore like the first blogs I made.

Yeah, right.

I was doing really well for three months, but reality took over. Again. As always.

Did I get lazy? Hmm. No (I know what being lazy is because I was one that’s why I know this wasn’t laziness).

Did I run out of things to write about? Nope. I have a list of things I wanted to write about. I just didn’t get around into writing them.

Did I become busy? Yes, in a preoccupied and distracted kind of way. Around March, I suddenly got a lot of things on my hands – important things that needed attending to and unnecessary things that robbed me off my time to sit down and write.

The “unnecessary things” are downloaded movies, mobile games, YouTube videos, etc. However, the “important things” involve growing spiritually, so I wasn’t worried. I just lifted my writing up to God, and said, I’m not going to write on my own. I’m going to write with You. So, let me know if there’s something You want me to write, then I’ll go writing again.

So, from March up to this month, all the writing I’ve been doing were letters to friends, prayers to God, and daily devotions. Aside from those, nothing else. I didn’t stress about it, because I know God got my back. Besides, the urge to write isn’t there. There’s no use forcing the issue. I will just frustrate myself.

However, for the last couple of weeks, the Lord has been talking about gifts and talents with me through my devotions. At first, I didn’t understand why this is what He’s been telling me. I only started getting it when certain friends started asking me about my writing. They began telling me to get back to writing already and to prioritize it before doing anything else (there’s this freelance job that I got tempted for a bit). I didn’t do anything though, then God smack me in the head.

“Sow you seed in the morning, and at the evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which one will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” – Ecclesiastes 11:6 

Our pastor talked about how to succeed in life and zeroed in on the Bible passage above. The message hit home. Hard. I heard it loud and clear.

To put everything simply, the seed we sow in the morning is our job and whatever we busy with our hands in the evening is our work. Apparently, there’s a different between the two. A job is wherein we perform certain tasks for someone in specific hours of the day in exchange for a certain amount of money while work is using our passion, our talent, our God-given talent for a living.

In my case, my job is an administrative assistant. I work from 3:30pm to 11:30pm, but my passion is to write and I can only succeed in it if I develop it outside office hours. I have to work hard on it up to the point that I can finally make a living out of it. Still, I mustn’t neglect my job because it’s still need to be seen which one will bring me success – being an office staff or a writer. I might also hit the jackpot if they do equally well.

So, if that’s not yet God pushing me to go back to writing, I don’t know what that is. I can’t delay this anymore.

when god speaks

I have been in five companies since I graduated in 2009 before I came to work in my current job and it’s the best workplace I have ever been.

I was happy, I was thankful. I believed that God answered my prayers about Him bringing me to a company that could possibly be the last workplace I’m going to stay until I die. Exaggeration, I know.

We have the best bosses any employees could’ve ever hoped for. They always put our welfare before anything else. They provide us with everything we need. They make sure that we feel comfortable in the office every single day. They were perfect.

Aside from that, they always provide us opportunities that would help us grow. They took me to London last September and it was amazing!

However, somewhere along the way, things have changed.

After the London trip, one of the British staff resigned and her job was passed onto me temporarily. For three months, I juggled two jobs – mine and hers. It was no easy feat, but I tried my best to handle both of them until I had to sacrifice my job to do my temporary one because it was more time sensitive. I’m a multi-tasker but I realized that doing more than one job is different from doing more than one task.

I began to hate the work. However, I told myself, it’s just because of the temporary job I had to do. Everything would go back to normal once they found a new person for the said job. So, I endured everything and, true enough, they hired a new staff. I was free again. I was back to my original job.

Still, it wasn’t the same anymore. I couldn’t pinpoint it exactly. It was as if my heart’s not in the job anymore. I don’t feel the excitement I used to feel even if the task I’m working on isn’t really exciting. Nevertheless, I tried to brush everything off because I might just be getting used to normalcy again.

Then, during the Christmas vacation, while I was lying on my bed, doing nothing and thinking of nothing, I heart a voice. The voice said, “You’re going to leave *insert our company’s name.*” I cried right away. I didn’t want to leave my job, but I know that it would happen. The voice was incontestable. It was final. It was absolute.

It was God’s.

I knew it was His because I couldn’t argue with it. I already had my own plans for my future and yet I know that the voice’s will would prevail over my plans. True enough, from my devotion, I learned that when God speaks, things will happen. His voice can change any situation and His voice changed everything for me.

When I went back to work, I would look around me and feel sad. I don’t know where I’ll be leaving, but I can’t help but miss everything already. I cried over it a lot. But I don’t ask God why. This is one of the things that accepting God has done for me – I learned not to question His will.

Also, everything has been settled as well. My heart no longer beats for the best company I have ever known. It’s now focused on what God has in store for me in the future.