“One of the best advice a writer could give to a beginner novelist is to write what she knows and to write what’s in her heart.”
Happy National Novel Writing Month! Today, I will feature the first book that I have written and was published in December 2013, the Confessions Of A Shy Girl. It is a coming-of-age novel about a new girl in town who struggles everyday life in her new school and environment trying to fit in and stand out. Like any young girl, she falls for a guy whom her bully is interested in. Her demeanor to be the class’s pushover brings her to face a challenge in a beauty and brain competition, one she has never done in her life before. But with all the courage she could muster, she accepts the challenge that unexpectedly unfolds her into a better woman that she is and luckily captivates the man of her dreams.
It was not hard for me to write my first novel because I had chosen a story that is closely related to what I had in my youth and a character similar to who I was when I was in high school. One of the best advice a writer could give to a beginner novelist is to write what she knows and to write what’s in her heart. This is what I know and this is what I feel. You have to put yourself in the shoes of the character you created, and that was just a cinch because I feel for the protagonist and I know the rest of my characters as well. As a writer, you don’t have to know everything. You just need to have that passion and discipline. Everybody has a story to tell. There’s always something inside us waiting to come out and feelings longing to be expressed. What is the first story that you have written in your life? It doesn’t have to be a book. It could be a composition you had as a sit work in your English class. It could be a term paper about your life ten years from now or a diary about your fears, feelings, and frustrations that you can’t tell your friends and parents because you’re afraid that they would reject you. Write something today. Write a page everyday. Write in your diary. Write a letter to your Mom expressing your love. Make someone happy by sending them a thank-you note or a get-well-soon note. Write about the weather. Write about your dreams. The book you have read is a must-read and the movie you have watched is spectacular. Why don’t you write something about it? Write and see where your imagination takes you. Who knows someday, you’ll become a writer? A new book among millions is dying to come out from inside of you. And wordsmith, I can’t wait for that best seller!
“Being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely, I can do my own thing without anybody snooping at me, I have all the freedom that a flying solo affords, and I finally have the opportunity to pursue more of my interests.”
For some, 13 feels like it’s just yesterday. Well for me, it is. In 1987, geeky 13-year old Jenna just wanted to be popular and so after her 13th birthday party went awry, she wished she could just be thirty instead. The novel 13 Going On 30 by Christa Roberts could contradict what I’m feeling right now. Who wants to turn thirty, flirty, and thriving but still feeling unfulfilled? There seems could be nothing hip in my teen years. My birthday parties were spent with my parents and brothers at home while watching T.V; I did not have my debut, did not attend the Prom night, didn’t get jaded on Friday nights and get sobered up early on Saturdays, I did not join the cheering squad and I wasn’t reprimanded for taking a risk in cutting classes, nor was I grounded for a week due to a few nights bonfire at the beach with a boyfriend. I was young, and the next minute, I was old. My life started when I was twenty. Being the late bloomer that I am, I have spent ten years backing up what I’ve missed for the past twenty years. At twenty, I grabbed a lousy job which didn’t promise career growth and character boost, but which served as a passport going to the city. A friend from high school saw me and agreed to share an apartment with me. It was then that I spent countless nights going to night bars and discos, playing billiards with all the dates they were trying to match-make on me and my first time to throw-up and have some late-night hangovers. We went to malls, and it was they who reminded me not to wear loose shirts and sneakers again because I looked better on skirt, strappy sandals and classic tops donned on. At twenty-one, I quitted my job and spent my pay over books and piles of magazines. I wanted to become a novelist or a webpage designer – a job which is a public service, but requires working alone. But then, I lacked resources. I didn’t have a word processor and an internet connection, and I didn’t even have a place conducive to writing and reading. So if I wanted to write, I have to start honing my skills through books first. I sent out short stories to Publishing Firms, and I wasn’t able to concentrate on my current designation. I botched five jobs because I wasn’t happy, and I was exhausted after moving out from one apartment to another 6 times. Right then, I forgot about writing. When I started working in a telecommunications company, I was able to upgrade my PC and practice webpaging. It was fun, but my schedule became hectic and work was toxic, so I didn’t have time to continue pursuing it. I was propelled forward to a job I didn’t like, and I couldn’t stop imagining about my dream job but I couldn’t quit because I had to pay my bills and rent. I had my first boyfriend when I was twenty-two but later discovered that I was more in love with love than with the person himself, so I broke up with him, only to find out that the next relationship would all become a frustration. I fell in love with 3 different guys and was turned down through three similar incidents after slamming the phone down opposite to a sexy voice who happened to be their girlfriends. What was wrong with me? I tried to catapult on my couch every night to seize for the answer, but nothing came close except the doubt that I might be sending the vibe of an external-YES and internal-NO syndrome. A wise man once told me that a lesson is repeated until learned. Maybe, I should just try to stop the malady of thinking about them and start letting go. It was hard because my thoughts were contagious. I started enrolling in driving lesson, swimming lesson, guitar lesson, cooking, photography, and other short courses that could contribute on rediscovering myself to find out what makes me different from others. Time is running so fast. I didn’t realize there’s so much more to do under the sun that a lifetime is not enough for me to experience everything. I didn’t want to turn 30 that fast because I wasn’t done having fun. I was going crazy, so I dug out my old stuff and reduced four dressers to shambles. I think I still wanted to write. I’m gonna use all the pain and emotions I’ve got flowing in a piece of paper. So when somebody try to pressure me to settle down just because for them, I’m behind schedule (What is their problem?), I won’t be worried at all. I’m not yet ready! People have overlooked that I was in the middle of something that was occupying all my time and attention. I am thirty, but everyone is on his own life path and timetable. Being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely, I can do my own thing without anybody snooping at me, I have all the freedom that a flying solo affords, and I finally have the opportunity to pursue more of my interests.
So when someone finally asks me how’s life treating me nowadays. I know just what to say, “I’m enjoying being single at 30, and loving it. “
“We might not be alike in so many ways, but we were kindred spirits emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.”
Reading the novel In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner reminds me of a bosom buddy I once had in my late 20s, except that we’re not biological sisters, neither of us is irresponsible, and neither of us had cheated on each other’s spouses. I can relate to this story in such a way that we’re radically different in so many ways, yet there’s only one thing that both of us have similarly — the size of shoes. We might not be alike in so many ways, but we were kindred spirits emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. She fills the void to what is lacking in my soul and I also do the same to her, just like soul mates. This blog is dedicated to her.
When I was a kid, whenever somebody asked me how it felt like having no sister at all, I always told them that it never bothered me at all because I enjoy the full attention that my parents were giving me being the only daughter in the family. I didn’t want to share my clothes, shoes, my own room, and I even disliked being compared to others. So I couldn’t really imagine having my own sister. Or so I thought…..
I was already twenty-two when I met someone through my brother. She was a complete stranger, and my feelings for her were completely indifferent. We did not click with each other that easily enough maybe because of my hostile attitude, or was it because we’re just two different people? She was witty and smart, a people-person, outgoing, very active, career-aggressive, cheerful, and had the potential to relate well with others —- she was in short, my exact opposite. I think we started out being friends when my brother went away. I came to know how nice she was inside and out. This young lady had influenced my entire life like no one else did. She had taught me the power of positive thinking, in believing in myself, and how possible it is for everything to happen even to someone like me. She was the only one who believed in me; she was the only one who told me that I am somebody and she nagged at me every time I started becoming a worrywart and every time I degraded and debased myself too much. She was so excited when something good happened to me, and she felt bad whenever I was down. She hated those people who hated me, and she sometimes scrutinized those guys I was goony about. Her words were music to my soul and the best advice I could get usually came from her. She was the one who told me that when something worries me that much, I just have to close my eyes even when I’m working and shout in my mind “Lord, please let it stop”. We respect each other’s differences even if the only thing we have in common is the love for books or the size of shoes. She knew me better than anybody else— my own mother does not even know me well. I was emotionally detached for four years now, but I did not even feel the emptiness because I had her. I was with her during the difficult times of my life, and she was the one who brought me to the hospital when I was sick. Every little thing she did to me was something I did not get from my own siblings. I didn’t think that having a sister was something you should be proud of.
To you sister, everything that had happened years ago was something I did not foresee. If I had only known that everything would end just like that, then I should had asked you to go out every day and every night even when we had different work schedules, because right now I miss you already. I miss those late nights watching movies together, dinner, shopping, and coffee. I miss those times when we shift from one apartment to another. I miss your comforting words and brilliant advice. You’re everything I’ve got. I never wanted anything but to have a great sister, and now I have none. No matter how I wanted to help you in your times of grief, it pains me much that I can’t see you today because doing so will just aggravate the pain. I know that I don’t have the right to keep you because I did not invest too much in this friendship; you came to me as a blessing. In time, I wish you will soon heal. I still want you to be my sister. If you are ready to see me, I’m always here for you.
Sister, if you are reading this right now, I am so sorry for being so selfish. You were saying something to me. You felt this would happen all along, but I did not listen to you because I thought everything would be fine. I know the feeling now; your pain is bleeding me to death. I’m a bad, bad sister, and I don’t really deserve you. It’s not like someone else died, but I can’t really face the next few weeks without you. Everything would never be the same. I know you’ve got a lot of friends and your life won’t stop without me but as I pray for your recovery, please pray that I would still find someone like you. You are an inspiration to others and trust me when I say everything good that you have done to others will come back to you three-folds.
I love you Sister, and I always want all the best in life for you…..
“To be rich, you don’t need to be a graduate from prominent schools. You don’t even need the diploma you’ve earned from school, let alone the medals and certificates. You just need to be wise, aggressive, and hard-working.”
Dads, here’s a simple treat for you. For the family-oriented, responsible patriarch, and financially astute head of the family, what could be intellectually stimulating than a cup of coffee with the freshly-baked aroma of a chocolate cake prepared by Mom, and of course a good read! Have a break from the morning newspaper, the sports section, or from feasting your eyes from the latest model of cars today. Aside from these, what really interests Dads today? While women are engrossed on shopping, fashion, cooking, and eating without getting fat, it is agreeable that most guys revel on the money they make. It is of great pride for them to be called the good provider, someone who tends to the family, the one who puts food on the table and sends their children to school, one who delights their wives with their shopping spree and hey, hypocrisy aside, what is love when you can’t provide all of these things for your family? For a man’s ego, riches is almost a necessity. You have hankered for what the business tycoon in your neighborhood had, the wealth amassed by a multimillionaire on the headline of the newspaper today, and you’ve always looked up to someone who’s professional, who finished a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree. They must be very intellectual, fluent English, American twang, logical mind, and all. But the good news is: to be rich, you don’t need to be a graduate from prominent schools or sorry to say, you don’t even need the diploma you’ve earned from school, let alone the medals and certificates. You just need to be wise, aggressive, and hard-working. I know this is silly but a lot of professionals ended up with a simple living and most people who didn’t finish college ended up with more businesses, more properties, and a fat bank account stashed for a rainy day. The book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki further elaborates on how becoming rich does not depend upon the good grades we’ve earned from school. Our parents have always taught us to go to school, study hard, and get a job. But with wise thinking, good choices, and hard work, we can always thrive without the effort of attending nine-to-five jobs. This book will teach Dads how to invest and handle their finances wisely. Dads, isn’t it inspiring that there’s still a glimmer of hope and chance for being a good provider without winning the lottery? Afterall, being wise is something we didn’t learn from school.
“There is fulfillment when you separate who you are from who you’ve been told you’d better be, or should be, or could be.”
I wanted to talk to him longer awhile back, but my break time was already over so I had to go back to the office, assume responsibility, and pretend that this mundane task will make any difference. Before I met him today, a colleague and I had some mix-up in the office. I didn’t know what led me in a coffee shop when I was supposed to eat something good for the mind. There must be an angel who gave me a friend when I really needed someone I could talk to other than someone who is not related to my work environment. I can no longer call my best friend who could have been my sister-in-law a few months ago. She is still on the stage of self-healing right now. It is true that when it rains, it pours, but there usually is a rainbow after it. I gained an educational lift today in an hour —- yes, in just a one-hour break. I was not mistaken to storm out and unwind, and I did not regret not going through what others were trying to expect me to do as if life is okay because I’ve found a new friend today. Life is not okay. Life is the pits. Love is the pits. Life stinks. But he reversed my definition —- Life is okay. Life is a game. Life kicks. Similar to what Dr. Sonya Friedman wrote in her book On A Clear Day, You Can See Yourself, there is fulfillment when you separate who you are from who you’ve been told you’d better be, or should be, or could be. When you begin to take the kind of sock of yourself you’re taking now, you begin to see that you’ve got power of your own, power unattached to anybody else. You do not have to look outside yourself for energy. You don’t have to plug yourself into somebody else’s current for direction. You can generate yourself. And that in a nutshell, is the goal: to become a self-reliant woman and confident in your own ability to meet life head-on. And so much for being sentimental, I didn’t realize there’s more to something than constantly proving yourself efficient to someone who thinks you’re not doing well. He’s a globetrotter and has an awesome, paramount interest to travel and wanderlust. I don’t usually talk to strangers, let alone foreigners but we hit it off. He’s based in New York and other than the Philippines, he’s been to Tokyo, Korea, China, Canada, Italy, etc…etc and might be to some places which I am not aware are included in the globe. Now, what can I say… I do not even have one-eights of his life full of adventure. He even knows a lot of places here in the Philippines more than I do. He was talking about the beaches, the tropical weather, the traffic, and he had witnessed Typhoon Ondoy in his one month stay, but on top of all that, he said that Philippines is one of the countries he loves most. Having been traveled to a lot of places, he said I must be so lucky to live in a place where there are great supermalls, cinemas, coffee shops, and where people are nice and know how to speak the international language well — English. He loves the Filipino traditions and foods even if he already misses their Pizza in New York. He made me see the best in what I have right now. He was talking about the Russian songs, first names, cost of cars, medical benefits in New York, including how to handle his staff in his own clinic and how to make a California Maki. I’ve learned all of these things in just an hour. Well, maybe I would never see this guy again, but this is one of the best conversations I’m going to write on my journal. I am the one residing here in the Philippines, and I should be the one who have shown him great hospitality as a visitor, but he was so fixated on telling me that, in time, I should be feeling okay. When I left that coffee house, I wonder where I had been.
I am commemorating my Father’s death anniversary this Sunday, June 10. Last night, after I offered fruits and burned incense sticks, I burst out both laughing and crying and asked him to clear my mind. I do not know what he’s thinking right now; neither do I know what he did from up above —- but must he be the angel? Because right now, it’s a clear day and I can see myself clearly now!
“If you’re caught between hate and love, know that everything is between you and God anyway, and not between you and them.”
The term “Dalai Lama” for some, signifies that a spiritual monk from Tibet is a living Buddha but he stresses to say that just like any other, he’s just a human being. What exactly is our true nature as human beings? When a spiritual leader speaks of kindness and compassion, we often think he is expressing himself as a Buddhist, a Tibetan, a Dalai Lama. But actually he is speaking to us in human terms, and that kindness and compassion is our human nature. As human beings, we are all the same — made up of body and soul and we all wanted the same thing — happiness. How then can we achieve happiness if not all people’s hearts and intentions are pure? When someone has wronged us and caused us too much affliction and sadness, it is hard to think of kindness and compassion. He hurt me, why should I be kind to him? She’s not a true friend, why should I practice compassion? I’m not a fool and I’m not going to stand by while they all try to hurt me. And thus, the human being cliche follows, “I’m only human”, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” They are not that good to me anyway, so why should I be good to them? “I’m not that much of a saint!” But is forgiveness only for all the saints and the divine? Every person we meet is our brother and sister and we are called to love one another as God has loved us. We cannot excuse ourselves that we’re only human to make mistakes. As humans, we always have a choice to love and show compassion, that makes us all have dominion over all other creatures. We are made to love and nurture our fellow. We must understand that even if your adversaries seem to be harming you, that is none of your business. Let God take care of everything. If you want happiness, follow his golden rule: “Do not do unto others what you don’t want others do unto you.” Only then will you realize in the end that their destructive activity will turn against them and it’s not your job to rein in your selfish impulse to retaliate. Notice how compassion gives you the greatest satisfaction. We may not always understand how it works but a spiritual journey is always a mystery. God’s love is a perfect manifestation of how we always survive. So what’s the real instinct of a human being? To err or to love? If you’re caught between hate and love, know that everything is between you and God anyway, and not between you and them.
“At birth, she was the happiest person on earth and we could never measure the love that she has unless we become mother ourselves!”
Happy Mother’s Day! How many of you are familiar with the story of a troubled young man who had a suicidal attempt to be with his mother for one more day? Did it move you to tears? For One More Day by Mitch Albom is a perfect book to read on this special day dedicated to mothers. It tells of a man who was bombarded with life’s everyday problems particularly in his family, career, finances, and vices. One day, he decided to drive to his old hometown to end his life and be with his mother. His suicidal attempt was a failure although the long drive led him to an accident before he reached his hometown. He had a chance to talk to his mother for just a day. His mother was able to help him get his life back on track by revealing some issues he had in his childhood that would serve him a lesson. He soon regained his consciousness from the accident and was able to rectify the dwindling relationship he had with his family particularly, his daughter Maria. The story is one proof that a mother’s power to nurture our lives since she gave birth to us does not end until death. A mother will always be there to protect us. We are nurtured, first in her own womb, eating the right foods so we could be healthy, doing the right thing in her pregnancy so we could come out to this world able and presentable. Thus, at birth she was the happiest person on earth and we could never measure the love that she has unless we become mother ourselves! A hometown is the most sensitive place a person can dwell because in it, the matriarch plays the most important role! When I think about hometown, the word Mother immediately comes into my mind. Yesterday, we had our Alumni Homecoming in our hometown and I wasn’t able to attend because I don’t want to have a sight of what was once a reminder to me when I was growing up. We no longer have our home in our old hometown and I just can imagine how this pains my mother so much. She wanted a happy home for us eversince but she had to leave us in our crucial adolescent stage to work abroad to be able to send us to school. This is a mother’s greatest dream, to have a harmonious life in a happy home with her family, and so leaving the country was her greatest sacrifice. She wasn’t able to live that dream for almost 20 years! Ah, Mother! How I dread the word so much! You wanted something for yourself but the kids should come first! Isn’t that stressful enough? Sometimes it isn’t about fun anymore. It’s more about survival! A lot of people think I don’t understand because I’m not a mother yet. But I do understand and so I’m afraid to be a mother to even try! Being a mother is the hardest job. I don’t even think I have the qualifications to vie for such role. Mothers, I’m so proud to all of you! You are all modern heroines! And children, make this day the day you won’t even regret not having done something special for your Moms someday! Why don’t you make the most out of it….for just one day?