A Crazy Idea


Author's note: The below speech was delivered on 28 April 2019 during a Toastmasters session in Hong Kong. 

Ever since I was a little girl, I would be engrossed in books - reading everything from comics to library books. Every Christmas whenever someone asked me what I would want, I would say, books! Books! Give me books! Before even school starts, I would do an advance reading and when I go to the bookstore, even if we don't have money, I would walk the aisles of books, pick a title, smell its pages like a drug — the smell of printed texts on paper.

Until one summer, the inevitable happened. I ran out of books to read. In the heat of the afternoon sun, I was laying on the cold floor staring at the window screen door, watching - listening to how the trees swoosh in the air, as I thought,

"Why don't I write my own story so I can have something new to read?"

Now, that's an idea. I stood and gathered the nearest notebook I can find, took my pen and started writing. The first story I wrote was a teenage love story that ended up in forever.

I wrote another one and another more - all with happy endings. And they all lived happily ever after!

I eventually joined an online community where we pushed ourselves to write every day. We became each others' accountability partners. We talked about writing our novel - what if nine writers write a novel? It was crazy at that time but for sure, why not? We spent countless hours online, talking about the plot, sleepless and caffeinated nights. We planned to launch our self-published book and sell it. Of course, we started our own publishing company because we know we won't stand a chance in the mainstream publishing companies in the Philippines who would only think about the profitability of a book. There weren't many choices.

We did not have any experience at doing this, but we trusted our guts. You know when you are in your early 20's and believe that you can change the world? Yeah! That was us.

The faithful day of our book launch came. We were all very excited to pick up the books and meet our readers. We advertised on Facebook and I believed we had about ten people to buy our book - the labor of our love. Except when we arrived, the books weren't ready yet. What a disaster! In the end, we got one copy of the book and met one person - his name is Philip, who was patient enough to wait for us. We only need one person to believe in us. We talked about the book and how we can all improve in the future. We have published several more books. One made it to the local bookstore. It was one hell of a journey that started from an idea to make it a reality.

You only need one person to believe in you to fuel your imagination and motivation for you to chase after your dreams. 

Last year, a tragedy struck my life, and I couldn't write a single word. I believed that writing can always heal but at that time, I felt stuck. Stranded. I would stare at the monitor, and even if I have the idea of what I am going to write, my fingers won't budge - as if no coordination between my brain and fingers at all. I was heartbroken because writing has always been my first love. It took me eight months before being able to write again. I couldn't write another novel, but I have written poems, short stories or speeches like this one. I have been taking small steps hoping that one day, I  will be able to get back in my novel.

Do I still believe that I can change the world through my words? Of course. Besides, that little girl who believed in the power of books - that's still me. I only have to keep that fire burning.

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