I Can’t Finish My Book, So I’m Doing This Instead


karren-renz-sena-onwritingOne of the most presumptuous things a writer can do is to write about writing.

But I didn’t say that. I’m quoting someone else, and if I could, I’d drop the name just to make this statement more legit (but I won’t). Somehow, though, I think I get his point, and it sounds a little something like: “Who died and made you guru of all things Literature, and what right do you have teaching other people how to write when you can’t even sell your own book?”

I’m pretty sure it’s a bit more… congenial than my interpretation, but that’s how I got it. So I thought to myself, “Karren, you have absolutely no right whatsoever to write about writing, or to write crap teaching people how to write until: 1) You have merited the acknowledgment of a prestigious literary award-giving body whose name you can’t pronounce, 2) you have sold enough copies of books to warrant a niche in this convoluted industry, and 3) you can manage to do so without, and I quote Stephen King on his book On Writing, “sounding like a ‘literary gas-bag or a transcendental asshole.”

I have not yet achieved #1. I am still selling my soul (and Champions) to the public so I can tick #2 off my list. The most I can do is to not sound like a literary gas-bag, although if you read my undergrad and grad school papers, you’d think I was one.

Why am I doing this? Why am I starting a series of articles on writing when all evidences point to me being a nobody?

Well, for one thing, because I can. It’s a free world, and if tone-deaf people can sing in KTV bars as if they were God’s gift to the music industry, or if people can parade along the beaches as nude as the day they were born, then I’m sure as crap that I can write about my journey into writing.

Again, why? And who the hell cares?

I’m guessing that those people who want to become writers but are too scared to do so would care.


Because even though I’ve sold a few thousand copies of Champions, even though I’ve studied Literature for more than 8 years of my life, even though I’ve been mentored by the best writers in the Philippine Literary arena, and even though I’ve dared to give a few seminars in Creative Writing, I still feel  like I’m crap. I still am not brave enough to share whatever it is I write—if I manage to even finish them in the first place.

Because for all that I know writing is what I ought to be doing for the rest of my life, for all that I cannot bear to not become a writer, I still find writing as the most difficult thing I have to do in my life. I can write, I know I can. And I write well. (My mom says I do.) But I still find it to be the single, most frightening thing I’d have to do.

And I know that there are a lot of people out there who want to write. I know that there are a lot of people out there who nurture the same dreams, but are too shit-scared to even write that first word. I know that there are people who thought they should win a Palanca to validate themselves as writers. I know that there are people out there who think they have to have a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing or Comparative Literature to be able to write that first story. And I know that there are people who believe that they will never be published because everything they write is soup and crap all rolled into an unappetizing burrito of literary bullshit.

So for those people, I’m taking this first step (for the bajillionth time). I’m writing about how difficult it is to write, but also how it makes every pain, every sleepless night worth it, when you’ve finally finished that story or book. I’m writing about how important it is to begin afraid, but to brave through it so you can one day see your story in print. I’m writing about how you can start crappy, but must work your way to writing a masterpiece, because dude, you owe it to your readers to give them a great read. I’m writing about how I’m a troll most of the time, writing about writing my book, but never getting around to actually writing it.

I’m putting a lot of myself out there, for you to pick on me or to learn from my stupidity and mistakes and whatnot. I’m doing this in hopes that maybe one day, one of you will tell me, “You’re an idiot, but I learned a thing or two from you. Here’s my book, read it, it’s yours.”

I’m doing this to let you know that you are not alone. That you and I, maybe we can learn this thing called ‘writing’ together.

Note: All photos © their respective owners and are acquired through Pixabay.

PS… I’m giving away five passes to my seminar Writing Beautiful Words: How to Write with Heart and Style which will be held this July 2015 (I swear, it’s been a long time coming now). All you have to do is to email me at projectbeautifulwords@gmail.com and tell me why you want to write, what you want to write, and who you’re writing for to get a chance to receive one of these five passes.

Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.