We call them eureka moments, days where you have incredible clarity, the turning points of our youth. It was another lifetime ago, in grade school. I was dominating language class, where I produced a short story, numerous Filipino poems, and represented the class in a speaking tilt. My mentor asked me why I didn’t join the school organ, since I had the goods. I replied that I never considered it. From bravura performances in Filipino, I transitioned to English. I wrote essays, penned feature articles, voiced my opinion, gave rundowns of sport, and impressed with my original poetry. This time I was aware of the qualifying test and was a legit part of the campus voice’s family. Based on the pictures, you would guess correctly that Jose Rizal was one of my childhood heroes. He was immortalised in Filipino class, and I knew right then that, when I grew up, I wanted to be like him.
Over the years, I’ve made my mark. Long since that conversation with ma’m, I know what I truly want. In a school setting, to be in position at a school paper is nice. I’ve brought my name to the banner headline; I’ve held high titles. As you add years, your dreams evolve. From being featured in school, you set your sights on magazines and contests. You write short stories, you play with shadows, pull rabbits out of hats, and inspire characters.
My early teenage years were mostly inclined to newspapers and magazines. I’d be consumed with the dailies, and read everything from sport to editorials. Then I started tackling novels, and the floodgates opened. Aside from Harry Potter, Crichton’s Rising Sun was one of my early reads. It was a perfect intro for an aspiring author. I was still a teen when I knew what I really wanted: to be a novelist. I said so during my IELTS Speaking Test, where I got a perfect 9. My very wide vocabulary impressed the female examiner, who complimented me as I was only 18 at the time. I told her my grand dream, to write the great twenty first century Australian novel. I pledged throughout uni that I’d write one, even though I had little time in between readings, essays, tutorials, lectures, presentations, and the commute.
A few years later, and being done with uni, I thought that 80,000 words was a bit unrealistic. So I started doing research on novellas, considerably shorter but much more feasible. People around me never doubted my capabilities when I told them. Instead, they supported me and urged me on. I remember the career counselor smiled a bit when I told her about my plans, even mentioning the name Hugh Howey and how he managed to defy the odds. She was at Kino bookstore during his autograph signing, and was sure she’ll be at one of mine. In basketball, there are volume scorers, and efficient cats. Since I can write with a vengeance, and have lots to say anyway, I shunned thoughts of novellas in favour of the longer novel. While not everyone is Grisham or Connelly, volume writers can try their best to be just as expressive.
Now it’s 2018. The first book I released last year was not the first book I ever finished writing. However, I realised that starting small is better than going for the four-point play. My journey from that naive little boy to today has been incredible. The amount of support I received from a young age has fuelled me. As of now, I’ve completed two books (one unpublished as of yet), with one more on the way. My current project is like this origin post, except a hundred times in length. Three books under 30, in spite of all the distractions and background noise, are not bad at all. While I dream of one day being able to release my beloved novel, I count myself lucky that at my age, I am a prolific writer. That’s more than most young writers, and rather gratifying.