When do you call yourself a writer? This was question I wanted to ask at the Christian Writers Fellowship (CWF)organized by OMF Literature. I was invited to this quarterly get-together by my friend, Beng Alba, who spoke for the last time before she says ‘I do’ to her fiancée Darren, who is from the U.S.
Beng, who has been an editor for OMF Lit for 17 years, has been inviting me to attend the CWF ever since she found out I wanted to write too. I wouldn’t dare join this group of accomplished Filipino Christian authors. But during our lunch meeting recently, she pushed me to just go.
I asked my husband to accompany me that night as I was too “shy” to be in room full of successful writers. We were the first to arrive and we were there 30 minutes early! Soon a very chatty and accommodating wordsmith entered the room. She was unfamiliar to me but she was able to share her writing journey and accomplishments in 5 minutes! I still couldn’t recognize who she was, my bad 🙁
Then came the senior writers like Ms. Grace Chong and Dr. Luis Gatmaitan. These accomplished authors are a household name especially for parents like me who have small kids. Grace Chong and Tito Dok were well-known because of the children’s book they have written. Grace Chong’s line up of best sellers includes the “Oh, Mateo” series, “God’s Favorite” books and “Gift of Grace” series for adults to name a few. Her children’s book “The White Shoes” bagged the first prize at the 2012 Palanca Awards.
Tito Dok however is also an accomplished author as well. He was a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial awards Hall of Fame inductee for Literature in 2005. One of his books, “Sandosenang Sapatos” ( A Dozen Shoes) has been adapted into a musical stage play at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Soon other authors came in and I was just in awe of the opportunity to be in the same room with such talented people.
I kept taking notes on Beng’s presentation of “The WRITE way to an Editor’s Heart”. Let me share what I gathered from her:
1. In order to blow away a perspective publisher, the writer must submit a first-rate manuscript. No excuse for sloppy English.
2. You don’t have to use highfalutin words to impress the readers. Make the words chewable. Write as you speak.
3. Writers shouldn’t dread the editor’s red pen but consider editors as friends. They’re not there to make your writing dream impossible but help make it possible.
4. After editing, be prepared to rewrite. Good writing is re-writing.
5. Lastly, after all the work you and your editor have done, release it and let God work. Whether it’s going to be a bestseller or not, it’s all up to the Lord.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23
But wait, there’s more! Peewee and I were not only privileged to talk with these veteran writers but were also honored to have a Palanca-awardee hitch a ride with us going home. Ms. Grace Chong lives in the same village as we do, so it was a no-brainer to give her a lift. In that hour-long drive, we to get to know each other more. She encouraged me that if writing is my passion, then I should continue what I love doing. Her writing journey truly inspired me. That ride home was indeed a blessing!
So, my question still hangs in the air…When do you call yourself a writer?