I wrote my first story when I was 11 years old.
It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. My best friend, who I call Kun (it's a Japanese suffix added to names of boys, but could be used on girls, too), was all game with me. Our school has turned into an English-speaking zone during our third grade, so we found it fitting that we wrote the story in English by the time we stepped sixth grade. I can't remember the title of the story, but I remember how it went. So on one blank notebook, Kun and I began to write.
Our protagonist's name is Cindy. She is sickly and frail, which makes it impossible for her to go to school. As such, she is homeschooled and isn't able to make friends. One day, a boy gets lost somewhere near their property and she helps him out. The next day, the boy returns with his friends and makes friend with Cindy.
The story was a little too concise -- and fast-paced. Kun and I decided to do many timelapses: we made them teenagers who managed to keep their friendship strong all throughout the years and adults who eventually fell in love. Of course, becoming busy wasn't not normal, even to 11-year-olds like us.
As members of the grade school division art club, we were usually pulled out to help make the stage, or create theater play props, or contests. For a while, we forgot that we were writing a story in the first place. Kun and I didn't finish it as soon as we could, and only remembered it existed when I happened upon it one day. With ending the story in my mind, I continued to write the story (without Kun's knowledge).
The next day, I showed the complete story to Kun. She laughed. Why? Because to end the story, I killed the main characters. The End.
Then I wrote fanfiction.
I love my best friend. We are literally the same in many ways. We both love anime and drawing. We also love reading books and writing stories. We are both sadistic -- at least, when it comes to each other. Our classmates claimed that we were joined at the hips. You could hardly find one of us without the other.
In 2008, my best friend introduced me to the world of fanfiction. Of course, because we were so used to doing the same thinh together, I basked myself in the glory that was fanfiction. It was heavenly! With it being circa 2008-2009, lawsuits against fanfictions weren't anything new. Disclaimers at the start of each story were the norm, and looking back, I find myself lucky that I fell for fandoms whose authors encourage fams to write fanfictions. Or at least, authors who didn't mind.
My first ever serious and multi-chaptered story was for the La Corda D'Oro fandom when I was barely 13 years old. Published March 24, 2009, The Isle was in-progress for 11 whole weeks, with one chapter update each week. The story follows through Kahoko Hino and her friends, and one of the greatest mishaps that could happen to them: being stuck in an uninhabited isle. It was meant to be a story of adventure, but it ended up having a dash of romance (cringey, corny romance).
To date, that was the only multi-chaptered fanfiction I ever completed.
Writing became stressful to me.
During my time writing fanfiction for LCDO, I met a lot of people who, eventually, became friends. We had this really cool and active group on Facebook, where we would share anything under the sun.
I love them! But it was that love for them (they, who supported my storytelling skills so much) that made it harder for me to complete my stories. I had a lot of ideas in my head, but nothing appeared to be perfect. Nothing seemed to look perfect the moment I laid them down on a blank MS Word document. I felt like I had to impress more than express.
I became obsessive compulsive. Outside fanfiction, my classmates would call me grammar Nazi. My high school would send me to essay-writing competitions and since then, I became over-sensitive over my words. Do I write things right? Is my grammar all right? Is this the proper term to describe that? (Heck, I became so hypersensitive of my articulation that, at present, I would always have @charlocked check my emails before I send them. Anxiety can be such a bitch.)
Instead of becoming an avenue for destressing and putting into life my imagination, writing became a business. It became an obligation. For fanfiction -- it became an obligation to entertain my readers. For my high school -- it became a responsibility to come up with articles for the school paper.
I didn't enjoy it anymore.
Screw grammar and typographical errors.
When I entered college, one of my batchmates said I was konyo. In the Philippines, people who are used to either speaking straight English or mixing Filipino with a lot of English are called konyo. I didn't even know the term back then, and I had to make him explain what he meant. To say that I got embarrassed was an understatement, even when he clarified that he didn't mean anything bad by that.
It was because of writing in too much English that I began to think in English, too. Most of the time when my big sister @arrliinn would call, we would converse in English, too. Then I came to an epiphany -- screw it. I thought.
I was stressing myself.
Scrap grammar. Scrap obsessive-compulsiveness. Scrap the need to impress. Just learn to express more. Whatever language it may be, as long as you articulate yourself well, you'll survive.
I'm thankful that I took up writing as a hobby, though.
I survived many laboratory reports because of it. I survived my thesis writing, essay writing, and research writing. I met a lot of friends from different parts of the world -- India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Germany, UK, USA, and let's not stray farther, the Philippines. Writing made me more aware of a lot of details. Heck, it simply made me hyper aware, period.
Now let me end this post with a memory when I was 13 years old. This was the time when I realized that my writing has improved. On my 7th grade (then 1st year high school here in PH) English class, we wrote journal entries every week. Each entry in my notebook, my grade improves, until one day, my teacher Ms. Anne pulled me aside just to tell me that...
She loved what was going on inside my head.
Image grabbed from freepik.com