by Jillian Hermoso, Southeast Asia Blogger jaBlog!
Artwork by Journey Meyerhoff
I was able to attend the Readers Who Write workshop held at the SMX convention centre in Pasay City, Philippines, last September 20, 2014 during the 35th Manila International Book Fair. It was open to people of all ages, and it was even free. The speakers were 3 female Filipino contemporary writers who have already found success in their career. Their focus was to tell the story of how they reached where they are now and help writers like us who are still figuring it all out.
The first speaker was named Mina Esguerra, who already has several books out in the market, such as My Imaginary Ex. She told us her experience of being a young reader and as she got into books more and more, the feeling of wanting to write started to appear and grow immensely.
Esguerra said that when it comes to writing, most of it starts at reading. How it starts is that there is always that one book that does it for you, the one that finally gets you writing. She continued by telling us that the books we read are the building blocks of writers. We start to write by borrowing the voices of our favorite books until, after much practice, we finally find our own.
The second speaker was Kate Evangelista, who has several novels already selling in the Philippines. I was more partial to this speaker since I could relate to her story as a writer, and I’m sure a lot of us could too. She was previously a medical student and didn’t really look into the idea of writing as a career until later. It was only through reading books that she found her love for writing. She was an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, which most of her books are about.
After finding her love for literature, Evangelista decided to become a writer and she started that by taking a literary course in college, majoring in English. She told us how her mother was worried about her choices since she was actually the type of person to never really know what to do with her life. But luckily, her family supported her. She finished her talk by saying that she never looked back on her decision.
The third speaker was Alyssa Urbano, or better known as Aerithsage on Wattpad. Her writing career started out by writing fanfiction and posting her stories online, until one of her stories was chosen for publication. She wrote spin-offs on Greek mythology and even came up with original stories with the Greek gods as her characters.
She told us that she started to write because when she was reading stories about mythology, she didn’t like the endings or even the stories themselves. And so, she decided that she would write her own version of them. Since then, she hasn’t stopped writing. Urbano finished by sharing a quote by Toni Morrison that made her successful as a writer.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
What I liked most about the Readers Who Write workshop was that all of them agreed that becoming a writer was a calling. They emphasized that the truth is, most readers start writing at some point, but the difference with writers is that writing becomes a part of who we are. Once we started writing, it never let us go. If we don’t create a piece of literature, we feel like we are a missing limb. We are the ones who were called to share their gift of writing to the world.
To the whole community of LTC, take a moment to appreciate who you are and what you’ve been through as writers. It’s our place in this world to be writers, and no way should you let anyone get in the way of that.