Monday, November 1, 2010

Life on Paper

It’s not everyday you get to really appreciate the things you have. But I suppose it just feels good to do so, especially when you are in an unpleasant mood. It’s comforting, I tell you. In my case though, it all started with a disheartening exam and the uber-depressing movie “Buried”.

When I got home after a looong day, I got so dramatically consumed with grief and anguish that I frantically scoured my unwatched DVD collection for some feel-good films. I desperately needed something that would lift my spirits. So there I was randomly selecting movies and I finally got down to watching “Beauty and the Briefcase” and “Letters to Juliet”. The protagonists in the two films are both writers so I got to reflect on myself more—myself as a writer, that is.

I remember only too well that day when I decided I wanted to hone my writing skills and take a course in Mass Communications. That was after I got convinced by my grandmother that taking a Fine Arts course wouldn’t do me any good. I was in high school back then, a sophomore. I didn’t know much about writing then—about grammar, structure, figurative expressions, all those stuff. All I knew was that I loved reading. But I knew that just because I was an avid reader it doesn’t mean that I could make a good writer someday. What I know is, as an avid reader, I have this secret wish of wanting to be read, to be on the reverse side of it all. So with the help of a few of my literary idols—Dickens, Rowling, Stevenson, Keene, Coelho and King—I tidied up a bit and took little steps into becoming a literary writer. I remember converting my old notebooks into storybooks. I would write down stories and draw images across the page and have someone read it aloud. Yeah, sounds crazy. But it was pretty much how I spent my childhood then (after the era of Barbie and Polly Pocket, of course). I took up Journalism and found out that there’s a lot more to writing than what I thought to be only entirely about scratching a pen on paper: that the world is big and there are a lot of great stories out there waiting to be heard.

I’ve always loved listening to people talk about their lives, what and where, this and that. Somehow, they make excellent stories, more interesting and more colorful than those of movie stars, celebrities, politicians, and all those despicable hypocrites out there who actually don’t have anything substantial to share to the world. These stories are worthy of being printed across glossy paper or etched all over the sweet-smelling pages of a hard-bound book. And this—as I’ve discovered while journeying through the valuable lessons of life as a writer—is what I’m here for: to look for great stories and make them known. To listen to what these people have to say and help them reach out and share their stories to everyone else in the world. To give them what is due as stars of their own stories, celebrities in their own right. And this is why I’m proud of being a writer: because I’ve always done my fair share of searching far and wide for these stories and retelling them in a way that would capture the interest of my readers, to make them feel that these stories matter to them as their own. This is my way of making people understand the value of life, and what it is to others as well.

Just like Sophie in “Letters to Juliet”, whose knack for spotting interesting stories led her to find love in the most unexpected way, or Laine in “Beauty and the Briefcase”, who has always been driven by her dream of writing for Cosmopolitan magazine, writing—for me—has been more than just a part of my life. Rather, it is LIFE for me. Yes, I do write for a living. But I’ve always preferred it the other way around: I LIVE to WRITE. So if you’re a writer and you’re feeling bad about making do with a measly salary, don’t be. Look outside your window. Eventually, you’ll realize that the world needs you more than you know.

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