My writing journey, both in literary and professional terms, has been a long one.
I remember writing random things when I was in high school. Two of my high school teachers initially noticed what I wrote and encouraged me to continue honing my skills. I was hesitant at first but I decided that there was nothing to lose anyway if I tried.
Later on, I got included into the school paper team as a junior editor. Of course, I participated in various writing and English language contests. I tried to write in Filipino but I couldn’t get it to work. As a matter of fact, I got caught with a wordlist during a competition (it’s one of the most embarrassing moments of my life).
However, thanks to the guidance and efforts of my teachers and mentors, both my writing and knowledge of the English language became pretty advanced. I even won multiple medals in writing and campus journalism; it was one of my brightest moments in my high school life.
After going to high school, my writing stayed dormant. There was no use for it in Turkey; as a matter of fact, all the newspapers and literary journals were written in Turkish, which meant that there were no chances for me to showcase, improve, and refine my craft.
Thus, it took all the way up to 2013 to publish my first piece in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Young Blood column (safe to say, I just published my 4th and final one earlier this year – you can only write for this column before you turn 30 years old), and I didn’t start focusing on my writing until 2018 due to many, many personal reasons (and let’s be honest here, my knowledge of writing was terrible – in fact, I laugh and cringe at my works back then when I read my archives).
Afterward, it took me until the pandemic to be able to publish my first piece internationally, in an arts and culture archive curated by the internationally renowned Sociological Review (it’s a social sciences journal) entitled “Solidarity and Care.” Since then, I got the opportunity to be published in both the UK and the ASEAN regions as well as in government publications. Heck, I also got published in Turkish (but my wife helped me to do that through her smooth and slick transliteration/copywriting, so I don’t know if that counts!)
Professionally, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and editor for nine years. I’ve been into gaming, esports, crypto, web3, travel, food, and everything else under the sun; I’ve also experienced both amazing pay and terrible pay and even no pay! However, every single one of these experiences have proved to be useful when it comes to my writing, so I am thankful for the opportunities.
Some of the challenges that I’ve faced in the past include:
- Having almost no one to talk about my writing: It is a lonely and sometimes thankless vocation/journey. This was really demoralizing at times, to be honest.
- Not knowing where I can get published: It is easier now, but back in the day, you had to search really hard for it, especially if you are writing solo.
- Getting rejected without feedback: Young writers would like to be rejected and know why (so that they improve along the way).
- Technical challenges: How do I fix my grammar? How do I improve my craft? Where can I find the resources? What works?
- For the writing as a job part – not knowing where to apply – and not knowing the rates back in the day!
Right now, I’m working on publishing a book of fiction, starting my final thesis for my MA in Creative Writing, and trying out different forms of writing plus grabbing whatever opportunities that I have to be able to leave an impact on my readers through my writing (and helping craft policy as well in different ways).
I am also happy to say that I was able to publish my work in multiple places. As they say in Tagalog, medyo malayo na rin ang narating! Char!
I am thankful to my parents and family for having the vision to support my writing journey, even though it didn’t result in immediate monetary returns at first. Based on what the perceptions of Filipinos in the past, I am sure that there are quite a few who think that art, culture, and writing are useless pursuits – even though the Philippines is literally built on 140+ languages and cultures – and for goodness’ sake, many of our Filipino heroes are writers, thinkers, and artists!
One thing is clear. There’s no stopping now – and hopefully, I can continue my writing journey to wherever it takes me!