Saturday, June 8, 2013

"There is no such thing as a frustrated writer!"

This post is about the first time I became a guest speaker at a writing event in SM City Clark on August 27, 2011

It was far from perfect, I know. But my first talk just went fine, nonetheless.

I goofed up on a few lines, but I do hope I was able to inspire young people to write. It was my first, though I offer no excuses.

It was a golden opportunity to make a difference… I just hope I did.

Just in case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it’s the announcement of the winners of the inter-high school short story writing contest here in Angeles City, and I was the guest speaker.

And below, is the full excerpt of my speech, just in case some of the attendees found my voice inaudible or were just too anxious for the results to be revealed, or both… and all who wants to know what I said.

I once met a writer during an event in Manila. She was writing for four different magazines, in as many different topics.
I started a conversation with her, asking her how she started writing for those magazines. I was trying to get as much information as I can about the profession. And during the course of our conversation, I told her, “You know, I am a frustrated writer.” What she replied to me was something that would be ringing in my consciousness for the years to come. 
She said to me, “That’s nonsense! There is no such thing as a frustrated writer!
Unfortunately, she was not able to elaborate on that, because she was called and our conversation was cut short.
To be honest, I can no longer remember the name or even the face of that writer. But I will never forget her words… “There is no such thing as a frustrated writer!”
That was in 2004.
I started writing poems in 1986. I was 18 years old. I wrote poems about how I felt, where I’ve been, what I saw, prayers, wishes, and everything else in between. I wrote poems year in and year out. Putting them all in my notebook which I labeled REFLECTION.
When I met that writer in 2004, I was already on my third notebook. And after that conversation with her, I still continued writing poems.
One day, as I was holding my notebooks, reading all my poems that I wrote, I remembered the writer’s words… and I thought, “Here I am. I have written all these poems. I was able to capture my feelings. I was able to express myself. So, where’s the frustration in that?! There is no one or nothing that is stopping me to write. I can write whenever, wherever and whatever I want. And as long as I can express myself freely in writing, I cannot really call myself a frustrated writer.”
Indeed, the writer was correct! There is no such thing as a frustrated writer!
However, there was a catch. It was only I, and a few selected friends, who read my poems. I wanted to share my poetry. I wanted to have my poems published. Maybe that was the frustration I was referring to when I was talking to that writer.
But, is that really frustration? I don’t think so.
When you start wishing for your work to get published… when you start wanting to share your work to many people… that, my young friends, is where the dreaming begins.
That is why we are here… because you started to dream. All of you who wrote and submitted a story have already started their dream. And to some, that dream will come true tonight. Congratulations! You did a great job!
To those who weren’t as lucky, it doesn’t mean the end of a dream… it is just life’s way of telling you, “Hang on. You’ll have your moment just yet.”
Please remember, some dreams do take time. I was 18 when I started. I was 43 when my first book was published. And in those 25 years in between were a lot of stories of joys, rejections, sadness, hopes, triumphs and frustrations. But all throughout, the writing went on. I never stopped.
Even though there wasn’t any sign of my dream coming true, I just kept on writing… because, in my heart I knew, it will happen. So I kept on writing. That is why when the opportunity came, I was ready.
So I suggest, if you really love to write, do not wait for any contest. Write anytime you want. Write when you have an opportunity to write. Write whenever you feel that there is something inside you that wants to be written. Just write… because the act of writing sustains the dream.
And as I end my talk, allow me to share with you the last poem in my book REFLECTION… the poem “Dreams Do Come True.”

Dreams do come true
Believe me
They do
Maybe not when we want them
They come true when
They needed to be
Not how we want them to be
But even better
Isn’t it swell?
Dreams do come true
And I hope that mine
Will inspire you
So my dear students, please… keep writing… keep dreaming.
Thank you very much, and good evening.

And that was my first public talk as a writer… and I survived just the same.

Thank you.


  1. Can't remember her face and name. Well, good for you. She had it coming even after all these years. I'm positive several years from now at least some of those in the audience will look back at this event with fondness because you're partly responsible for making them keep the faith in writing. Will they remember your name and face. Because of Facebook and your blogs I'm sure they will.

    1. In October of the same year, Jan. At the same venue while watching an event participated by Angel. A woman approached me and asked to have her picture taken with me. Though puzzled, I obliged. After which, she told me she was one of the teachers of the participating schools where I had my talk. She said she was inspired and was in fact planning to have her book published someday. :)