Sometime this year, I decided I’m going to be an author. That was around Holy Week I think. Come to think of it, this is the second year in a row that my epiphanies came after Easter, and they felt so real and intense that I actually acted on them. It’s not a bad yearly habit to fall into.
So there I was, trimming down an old manuscript and finishing another one, when I found out about StrangeLit, a paranormal/urban fantasy writing workshop sponsored by Buqo and Bronze Age Media. I thought, writing workshop? Yes please! Then, paranormal? I don’t know…
I do read paranormal. I’ve read the Mediator, Blood & Chocolate, the Vampire Diaries, Wicked Lovely, and yes, the Twilight Saga before it became a joke. But I’ve never written in the genre. But then I already had a story in my head, and with a little twist, I thought I could make it fit the genre.
Yesterday was our deadline and our last day of class/last official meetup wherein we evaluated the experience. I shared my piece about it already, but I was half-asleep then, and maybe I’m still half-asleep now. But here are my thoughts anyway:
- It all starts with an idea. There are stories that have been living in your head (and heart) for a while now. My StrangeLit submission, Majesty, was one of those stories. It gave me a good head start, and I needed that given that the workshop was running for only five weeks.
- It ends with an ending. The first draft of the first book I’ve ever written wound up to 160k words, precisely because it was winding round and round with no end in sight. Since then I’ve learned to outline, which someone like me with neurotic tendencies (haha) needs. The happy output of that is that I knew at the beginning how the story would end, and soon I was able to write the first chapter, and then the ending. I understood though that the ending wasn’t set in stone. I could always change it. But it’s good to have written it, because it meant my story was guided by something.
- Writing is work. It is. But it’s happy, fulfilling work. Sometimes, I could sit in front of my laptop with fingers flying all over the keyboard and I’d be happy with the results. Sometimes I’d have finished eating a box of chocolates and still be staring at a blinking cursor (true story). But still you have to sit there and write something even if you think it’s crap. Which leads me to my next thought–
- Writer’s block is a myth. Or it’s just the general term for when you’re too lazy, or too busy, or you think you suck too much to write anything. Maybe writer’s block is just the universally accepted term for self-doubt. Either way, if you know in your heart that you love writing, you have to fight it. And the only way to do that is to get your butt in a chair and keep it there until you get your word count up.
- Deadline is a writer’s BFF. Having a deadline was a good motivator, and being reminded of it every so often by our periodic submission requirements was one of the best weapons against writer’s block. I learned to work back and create my personal deadlines, and I discovered a few things about how I write and how far I could push myself. For one, I learned that although I cram in everything else, I don’t cram when I have writing deadlines. Because priorities 😀
- And so is peer pressure. The good kind. Following #StrangeLit on Twitter gave me a literal live feed of how everyone was doing, and it was the best kind of pressure. The encouraging, uplifting, cheerleading kind. I had the best classmates and the best mentors in the world for this workshop.
- Write the next book. Recently, I learned the cure to that debilitating feeling of sadness, obscurity, and that general feeling of suck-ititis: just write. I just need to back to the reason why I’m doing this in the first place, and hold on to that. I’m going to make mistakes, and sometimes I will suck, but I’m going to learn and try new things and get better. And the only way to do that is to keep writing.
I’m glad I pushed away my doubts and worries and signed up for this workshop. I love this class. I wish I could give you all big hugs. I would have hugged you all yesterday but I was drowsy, and you might have found it weird. But know that I am grateful and I am proud of all of you. I can’t wait to read all your works!
Thank you Buqo, Bronze Age Media, and of course, the real rock star, Mina V. Esguerra, for giving us the opportunity to do this. Thank you to our awesome mentors Marian Tee, Kate Evangelista, Paolo Chikiamco, and Budjette Tan for sharing your wisdom/encouragement/pompoms/general awesomeness. Because of all of you, Majesty will be out in Buqo bundles in a few weeks, maybe with other ghost stories, maybe with other stories about death. Maybe we will have a book launch event (cosplay? really?), then we will have a book tour. People will see our work, and our work will be read, and hopefully loved too. Until then, I think I’m going to sleep for a few more hours, and then yes, write the next book 🙂
P.S. Thanks to Tara Frejas for the badge! High five fellow StrangeLit finisher *hugs*