I always labeled myself as a writer but back when I was 18 I never had anything published. Neither did I try to get published. I spent most of my time writing on this blog with only very few readers who would occasionally leave nice comments. But it still felt like I was only a writer when I felt like it. So, how can I call myself a writer when I never even tried sending a story or performing my poetry?
Being Called A Bad Writer
I was 16-years-old when someone told me I was a bad writer. It wasn’t an internet troll scrolling through my blog instead it was someone I knew which made it stung. Since I was 10-years-old I convinced myself I will become a writer but I guess fanfiction or love poems don’t count. Being a teenager at the time, my maturity level was not quite there yet. Any criticism would feel like a punch in the gut knocking me down on my feet.
I stopped writing after that instead of trying to improve myself. For a while, I hid everything I wrote. If I wrote a new poem I was hesitant to share it but I’d be completely lying if I said I stopped writing altogether. At 16, I had so many unfinished works like my very poorly written One Direction fan fiction so I tried my best to keep writing. Then it came to a point I asked myself if it was all worth it.
Slowly, I lost interest in writing and left this blog alone for a while. It felt weird writing when I wasn’t really a writer in the first place. It felt like my passion for it disintegrated the more I kept writing. It was fun yet I did not know how to keep writing.
Trying Out Other Ventures to Fill My Creative Soul
By the time I was 18 my self-esteem was not in the best shape so I felt lost on what I was truly passionate about. I scrapped writing out of the picture because it felt like I could not make it as a writer since I was never published. Instead, I tried other creative outlets such as photography and videography.
Photography was something I considered loving because I actually won photo competitions compared to writing categories. This led me to be a freelance photographer for some of my friends and their friends. The cash was great but after a few projects and photo shoots, I dreaded it. Perhaps, photography was meant to be a hobby than a passion but it doesn’t mean I do not love my camera. I still take pictures now I do not ask for money in return.
Videography was something I thought I can do. I even set up a YouTube channel for a few of my short films and projects. I enjoyed editing and it’s a good skill to have yet I preferred the story making process over the post-production process. Like my photography venture, my filmmaking days turned into a hobby at the same time a great skill to put on my resume.
I was not great in both of these ventures, I was mediocre at best. Heck, I even tried radio for a bit until realizing I did not actually like it.
The Guts To Write Something Other Than a Blog Post
It wasn’t until my second year in college I finally found the courage to write again. Most of that courage came from you, my readers. Even though I didn’t want to pursue writing at the time I was still updating this blog. A lot of you send in your comments and messages either complimenting my poetry or telling me how to improve it. But despite the support, I was still afraid to really put my writing out there.
During my third year in college, I transferred to another school and that was when I found my love for writing again. The university’s official publication was recruiting new members and I got excited. At the time, I ventured into another creative endeavor which was graphic design and layout which was why I applied as a layout artist. They were somewhat impressed enough to recruit me as their new junior layout artist.
It was not until my first journalism class taught by our publication adviser (we will call her Ms. B) that pulled me back to writing. I enjoyed the class more than I realized especially the writing parts.
One day, when we were passing our articles for the class Ms. B asked why I did not apply as a writer for the publication. It felt like a loaded question because I did not know how to answer it. Should I be honest and say I didn’t feel like a writer enough to even try? Or bullshit about finding passion in graphic design?
I told Ms. B that I wanted to experiment with different skills so I can find my passion. She smiled and told me I was a good writer enough for her to give me two writing assignment for the publication. She asked me to write a book review and a movie review. Hesitant at first I said yes. I chose my favorite movie “Heneral Luna” -which was showing at the time- and a book a friend lent me called “Girls For Breakfast.”
I missed writing something other than a blog post, a tweet, or an Instagram caption. It felt freeing letting the words flow through me. The editing process was also fun because it helped better my work. When I saw my two of my pieces published for the first time, I called myself a writer.
Finally Kicking Off My Writing Career
Since college, I have been trying to find ways to make a little extra cash because I wanted to lighten the load of my parents paying my expensive tuition fee. I was not studious enough to keep my scholarship and I did not have the patience needed to be an online English tutor or work in fast food. Being someone with very little patience and lack of practical skills I limited my options to the point of nothing.
I became a freelance writer instead. It was hard at first because as a new writer in the game getting clients was the challenge. Then a local entertainment site opened its doors to new writers thankfully they accepted me with open arms. Unlike writing for print and literary, my new writing gig was focused on SEO. It was a great learning experience at the same time it paid me to do well. I mostly wrote entertainment pieces which included weekly TV recaps and show reviews.
My very first bylines were courtesy of Tv Movie Fix and Pilipinas Popcorn. They helped me become a better writer. Writing for them made me feel like I could do this as a profession. It opened doors for me and gave me other clients to work with. Soon I wasn’t just being paid to watch Netflix but also write about lifestyle and relationships for different websites.
Then finally I was front page news! During my internship for a local newspaper, I was able to publish stories that were front page material. It felt exciting. Not only was I writing but people get to read what I write! Finally, I can call myself a writer.
At the moment, I consider this the early years of my writing career which I have paused at the moment. With a new full-time job, I need to make a little bit of a living at the same earn enough experience to start a career but I’m still freelancing (and looking for new clients by the way).
Publishing My First Book?!
What most people don’t know is that I actually finished two very novel-length stories. One is still being polished and the other was just a way for me write my frustrated fantasies. I haven’t submitted anything to any publisher yet because I am still figuring out what kind of writer I want to be. However, I did submit a few short stories last year all of them rejected but I was actually happy with the rejection. It meant they actually read what I wrote enough to reject it.
Who knows maybe one day I’ll be on the best-sellers list of my favorite bookshop or a writer for different known publications. Either way, I still want to be a writer.