“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
~ Anne Frank
I used to take writing for granted, just a pastime, something to do during those most obstinate of days. Writing was an outlet, a way of redirecting excess energy of youth. Over time, I have realized that with the pen I could do more than just expending my excess energy. A tiny spark of inspiration that led to an evolution of some sort, that eventually kindled into a beacon that is intended to seep light through the darkness.
Gangsa and Ato Days
“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”
~ James A. Michener
My writing escapade began when I became a campus journalist, writing for the “Gangsa”, official publication of Bontoc Central School. I started mostly with straight news pieces about in-school activities. I will also go and compete in the Division Schools Press Conference, placing second in the copy-reading and headline writing category, proud moment there. 😉
My journalistic ventures would be carried on until my high school days. During this time, I explored further my writing capabilities. From news writing, I ventured into sports writing which is not really an entirely different discipline. I also tried editorial and feature writing. Due to my active participation, I ended up as the associate editor-in-chief of our school paper, “The Ato” during my last two years.
Campus journalism provided me the best springboard for furthering my writing skills. Aside from sharpening my dull pen, it provided me the best training ground in the art of observation. Moreover, through journalism, I got to know a lot of people whom I would have never cross paths with had I procrastinated the entire time this scene was playing.
“A Good Essayist”
“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.”
“Your son is a good essayist,” our high school English department head told my mother. One of the best compliments I received for my writing days, it really meant a lot for a start-up writer. The compliment belies the weight of the words as the compliment came from our English department head, someone who has already read and scrutinized a lot of essays and other writings.
Over time, I would go on and receive more commendations and prodding from my mentors and friends alike. However, when I receive these feel-good accolades, I would just smile and shake my head, though not forgetting to thank them.
I still don’t think I’m a “good” essayist, a writer even. I am far from it. However, I have turned these words of encouragement into an inspiration to push further, to write more. I believe that there are still a lot to improve and develop both in content and delivery, and that is something that I am currently working on. So far, I am enjoying the process.
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
~ William Faulkner
Before writing, reading my was hobby (yup, I am a nerdy). I used to devour newspapers and magazines, patiently scavenging for bits and pieces of information that I think will empower me. I used to purchase the three major broadsheets everyday to have something to read. To enrich my knowledge, I read news and editorials. Newspapers also kept me abreast of the latest events.
My insatiable appetite for knowledge led me to encyclopedias. I remember borrowing our neighbor’s encyclopedias, going over everything from letter A to letter Z. Encyclopedias painted on my mind beautiful places that I long to visit. It was a conduit which made me live ubiquitously in Paris, in New York, in Athens, in Moscow, and in practically every corner of the globe. Such were the power of words that it transported me from my small corner of the world to distant places.
My imagination would stretch further when I started reading novels. It stirred various emotions in me, inspiring me to translate my emotions into words through writing. Moreover, it enriched my vocabulary by a mile. Fathom, androgynous, quotidian, mundane, opulent, verbose, elan, pragmatic, apocryphal, plethora, enigma, vivacity, ebullience, magnanimity are just among the words I learned and tried to infuse into my writing.
Rekindling the Spark
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
~ Sylvia Plath,
In spite of the numerous accolades I received for my writing, I let it stall for many years. In the process of venturing into new endeavors, of chasing long lost dreams, I got derailed. My writing procrastinated, and it went rusty and awry. I did write simple passages once in a while but I refrained from the more substantial ones.
Having undergone a lot of challenges on the way to reaching that zenith of life, including several emotional upheavals, made me very wary of my own capabilities. Distraught, I never imagined myself picking up the pen again to taint the very image I had of life. I got waylaid, and I kept that for too long. I now realize that I did myself wrong.
I tried several times to retake writing but there was just never enough motivation to start again. It was also difficult to find an inspiration to hold on to, to anchor myself on. I felt that with the bits and pieces I occasionally wrote, I am doing enough to unburden a heavy heart. However, the sense of purpose is not there, it was rarely ever there.
After being obstinate for too long, the right inspiration came along out of the most unexpected circumstances. I was then on the throes of a broken heart trying to heal and seal itself. But with a tiny spark of inspiration, I got in touch with a Facebook friend, an unfamiliar face among the sea of mundane faces (A Promised Cup of Coffee). That four-hour marathon conversation on a scorching Sunday afternoon awoken old emotions in me that were longing to come out and to be expressed.
That small opening, that tiny spark of inspiration, made me reevaluate, then eventually redo my life over, to finally chase after long-stalled plans. “No more excuses,” I told myself. Though there are still times that I am coping with the demands of my new found endeavor, I fought to push myself to make good of the promise I made to myself. “I will be better,” I promised myself. “This time around, I will do better.”
Writing to Inspire
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
When I retook writing, it was just an avenue of some sort for me to express long suppressed emotions which have emphatically filled me at the most tedious of times. Writing then was an outlet where I let every feeling , dream and thought pour out, bar none. Through lengthy posts, I used my writing to express things that I cannot somehow blurt out in one-on-one conversations. I admit, this is one of my Achilles heels.
When I started regaining my lost momentum, I initially wanted to use writing as a medium to express emotions, my emotions. Then I saw how my friend is being a well of inspiration through her writings. I then realized that there is more to writing than just bleeding my emotions out. I can use my pen to inspire. I can use my pen to be catalyst for change. Through my writings, I can be a voice of hope.
It is not out of spite for what she is doing, or is it out of envy that I also wanted to use my writing to inspire. To seek attention was never my intention. Seeing how she does it, I realized that I can realign my gift to use it as a voice for more meaningful discourse. However, I will never forget where I came from. Writing is a conduit where I make my emotions flow.
Where I am right and what I am doing now is a product of a lot of circumstances. In the process, I have learned a lot and now I am using the knowledge I acquired to transform the world I am in through my writing. It is a tall order, I am cognizant of that. I know the road is also fraught with challenges that I must overcome. However, with my new found vigor, I know I am capable of conquering all challenges, trusting in His guidance.
“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche