I guess living in a third-world country often deprives or limits us from certain opportunities like education and material things such as books, papers and pens. It’s not that we are lazy, apathetic, or we don’t want to learn—it’s just that our means and resources are quite scarce. In the case of writing, no one can teach us exactly how to write. We can be taught spelling, syntax, grammar, and theories which may serve as our guide like Beatrice guiding Dante in his book, Inferno. But in order to write, we have to teach ourselves how—by reading a lot, and by reading in our own way. Eventually the genre we wish to write for will call to us, especially when we become so natural at it and we don’t have to try very hard. In Naipaul’s case, it was fiction upon understanding that it is an “experience totally transformed.”
In my case, I was quite privileged as a little girl because I studied in a private school and I had access to a library. If I wasn’t content with the books in the library, I would ask my parents to buy me the books I wanted. I loved to read, especially when I was in my element. As hilarious as it may sound, I could compare myself to a character like Edward Cullen thirsty for blood. But instead of blood, I was thirsty for books. There would be instances however, where I would have what I would call “lazy moments” when I would be distracted by other things and my reading would be put on hold. But I did read a lot, and I still do. Because what I learned in my two years of stay in UP Diliman is in order to be a good writer, one must be able to read well, too. Most books I read were what appealed to my taste, but seldom would I try to read something that I didn’t necessarily like. I guess this is where “reading in my own way” comes in, because I read more on books that I was biased for—because these books were closer to my reality and it was easier for me to really understand and piece them together. And when it was time for me to write, I used these books as my inspiration. I also then learned that to be able to write a good piece, I had to write about what I know—topics that I mastered and that I was really interested in. I remember once, I wrote a short story that “tried too hard,” and it turned out to be a disaster. My creative writing professor told me that it was okay to try writing outside of my box, but I needed to master what I was writing about. Experience contributes a lot in getting to know more about something. Writers shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and get out of their comfort zones. Go out there and see the world for what it is—experience each moment to the fullest. Because in writing, knowledge plays a big part and we can only obtain it through education, lots of experience, and a wide variety of reading.
Being a good writer doesn’t entail having to know lots of highfaluting words or creating the best and grandiose plots and climaxes. In my opinion, the most beautiful literary works are the simplest ones. Another important lesson I learned is this: Don’t write because you want to be popular or get published. Write just because you want to. Write because there are so many thoughts and ideas running through your head, and you want to vomit them out. Write for passion; not for fame. When you start from there, everything will fall into place.