by Sapphira Winter, Age 16, Philippines
Artwork by Katie King
I am a young writer from the Philippines, born and raised here. When I started writing, I knew that it was something that I found joy in. I let my love for writing grow and grow until it became my passion. Writing for the world and letting them read how I see the universe turned into my dream. But one question popped up.
Where do I start?
In my country, there are hardly any opportunities for writers.
The contests are either for professionals, require an expensive entry fee, or are inconvenient for my schedule because of school. In short, they make the contests exclusively for adults.
Dependable workshops are hard to come by too. I was actually lucky enough to attend one, although I almost missed it. The only advertisement was a small flyer. Its focus group was young adults. I have yet to see one that is only for young writers.
Throughout the whole country, only two colleges have creative writing as a full degree. Both of the colleges are hard to get in to. It’s sort of like Harvard or Stanford for us, both academically and financially.
Another concern is our language. Our native tongue is Filipino. Our second language is English. Most of the contests or events require writing in Filipino.
This might sound absurd, but writing in Filipino is very different. American literature is nothing like Philippine literature. For example, Philippine literature is not fond of using figurative language. If it does, it’s very minimal. We are literal people, so figurative language creates a lot of confusion.
And, obviously, if you want the world to know your stories, you need to write in English.
With all the difficulties writers like me face in the Philippines (and all other countries that don’t focus on creative writing very much), it might seem impossible to actually achieve anything in a writing career. I promise you it’s not. If it was, I wouldn’t be here right now, writing this article for everyone to read.
For all the young people in my situation, don’t let it stop you from being a writer. You love writing. Why would you give that up only because your location is challenging? Just keep reminding yourself why you write and what your dreams are as a writer. Keep writing with a focused mind. Keep practicing. You’ll soon realize that where you are cannot stop you. It’s your passion for writing that will really lead you to achieving your goals.
If you hit that bump on the road where writing by yourself gets confusing and you need clarification, there is one simple solution. This is the age of technology. We can take advantage of the computer to research about writing. Basics, writing prompts, grammar, the dos and don’ts—it’s all there. Another option is to post questions in order to receive answers from people. You can even contact authors such as Laura Michelle Thomas, the creator of LTC and author of Polly Wants to Be a Writer. (You can read my review of this novel for young writers on Goodreads.)
Later on, you’re going to want an audience or a way to show your work. If your family and friends aren’t enough for you, there are contests and websites. Right now, contests for only young writers other than the Junior Author’s Short Story Contest and Poetry Contest are rare, but there are a lot of websites where you can post your work and receive comments from people around the world.
I started out as a fan fiction writer, and it turned out to be a good foundation. I posted my work on various websites, and I gained a fairly big audience. Publicizing your work might sound scary and nerve-wracking since it’s such a huge step, but you shouldn’t feel that way. If anyone would critique your work, it’s an opportunity for you to improve. Don’t let it bring you down.
And, finally, when you’re ready for serious writing opportunities, start submitting your work online to publications and blogs, such as jaBlog!
From here, you’ll realize that where you live doesn’t really matter. What really matters is your love for writing and how determined you are to let the world know that.
Sapphira Winter is a 16 year old writer from the Philippines. Sapphira says, “This article is for my country’s fellow writers and everyone else who’s having a hard time chasing the writer’s dream. Run, or should I say write, like a mad man!”