Write a hundred books. Make love with a thousand words. Touch millions of lives.
“And the Nobel Prize Award for Literature goes to, Le-an Lai Lacaba!”
Everyone rises up, their shiny gowns reflect on the spotlight that has been focused on me. After 50 years of being a writer, at long last I’m finally here; the first Filipino to receive this award. I rise up, my limber 60 year old bones are now shaking, but the smile on my face is still plastered on tight. I look at my husband and I squeeze his hand as I am ushered up the stage. And to think, 50 years ago I was a sixth grade elementary girl who started making stories in her diary. And now I’m here, in front of everyone who have read all of my works, and who have helped me up when I was down.
Crush-inspired stories. A small princess diary. Teacher issues.
“Le-an! Are you not listening?”
In that moment I look up at my teacher who looked angry. Oh wait, she is. I slowly sneak my diary in my bag, but my teacher catches sight of it.
“What is that?” She demands.
“It’s her diary ma’am where she writes stories.” My best friend quips.
I look at her angrily, the way she betrayed me like I was nothing to her.
My heart leaps into my throat. I shakily give my diary to her, knowing fully that I wrote bad things about her inside. She takes it and walks to her desk, keeping the diary in her drawer. I looked down at my feet, feeling ashamed. It’s true that I wasn’t listening to her, but it was only because I got inspired on writing. Who am I to resist the calling of making a novel about me and my crush? This reminds me, he really looks cute today. Ugh, my diary! >.<
It was graduation day when she gave my diary back to me, and I have given up writing since that time. I felt so ashamed at what she did to me, doing it in front of class and everything.
“Ms. Lacaba, here you go. You’re a good writer for someone who’s eleven years old. But next time don’t make me the villain in your stories okay?”
I didn’t know what to do in that moment, so I just smiled and took the diary into my hands. Little did I know that my teacher would become a headmaster at a school in Thailand six years later. So maybe that was a sign.
Bullied little girl. A “class diary”. More crushes that left me crushed.
Everything is such a daze. No one wants me to be a part of their group, and I stopped hanging out with my best friend’s barkada because I was treated as an outcast. I hear them calling me names, talking about me behind my back. I don’t even know what I did. And so I write here in the corner, thinking of reasons why no one liked me. I write stories and poems about how it would be like to have real friends.
For a whole year I try impressing them, but the most hurtful moment that showed how much they despised me was when my teacher made a mistake in announcing that I was in last rank. They all cheered or something. Then when my teacher took back his words and said it was their friend in last rank, it was like they hated me more. I didn’t know how to deal with these people. High school sucks.
In sophomore year I began writing a novel in my diary again. At least I have friends now, with whom I show my stories to. But they weren’t only interested in my stories that were written at the back of my diary. They also wanted to read my actual diary. It was no big deal for me. Everyone knew who my crush was, even my own crush. So I let them be, I let them read my deepest secrets. I don’t care because maybe this way I would have more friends. Would you be my friend?
My crushes are somewhat cute. But every writer needs a muse right? In my case an escort. So I accept every guy whom my heart beats for. I know I sound like I easily like guys, but I have standards. Sometimes. Anyways, there is this one crush of mine whom I’ve been crushing for most of my high school life. But he became a bit of a jerk ever since he knew I liked him. He was kind of my friend during my “bullied” days, but now he just is a snob. I push myself into crying at times, just so I could write something about pain and suffering.
An unexpected victory. Finding out my weakness. More ideas to write.
My hands are shaking and sweaty. My face is hidden from sight. My constant mantra is “Please let me win. Please let me win.” My arm is on a chair and my head is rested it as if I was sleeping. They’re announcing the winners of the DSPC Feature Writing contest, and I feel so numb.
“In seventh place, in sixth place, in fifth place, in fourth place.”
My name hasn’t been called and they’re already in the top three. My heart is beating wildly. All my schoolmates have won a place for the regional competition, and my category just had to be the last one to announce. I keep muttering my mantra, as my friends pat my back. This is it. There’s no way I’d get into the top three. I look up just as the emcee announced the first place.
“In first place, Le-an Lai Lacaba of STCDCFI!”
OMG. Was that my name? The next thing I knew I was being pushed unto the little stage with my schoolmates jumping around. Next to me were six other winners, and I was standing in first place. This is it. This is my calling.
Oh no. They want me to write about the RSPC Pageant last night. I don’t know anything about pageants! I did attend it because I was required to, but I never thought they’d choose this for a topic! My head is swirling with so many things and ideas that I couldn’t put anything on the paper. The next thing I knew time was almost up and I had to hurry up. I wrote what I could, hoping for the best. During the awarding day, I knew I wouldn’t get a place. And I didn’t. I learned that my weakness was writing live performances or anything that I couldn’t make up. So I learned from that.
They say it doesn’t count on how high your position is, what counts is how many times you lift yourself up after you fall. So as I tried to recover from the RSPC fiasco, I picked up the pieces. I wrote about the little things in life, I wrote poems and short stories and tried to make a novel. I never wanted to stop writing, in hopes that someday I’d be one of the best. I’m going to get there someday, somehow.
A new school. Same type of “friends”. Different inspiration.
Entering college was just like entering high school all over again. I had no friends because it was like I was absent during the day that they all became friends. Although there wasn’t any bullying anymore, I still felt alone, tagging along from one barkada to another. I never really got attached to anyone. And so my “loner” instincts kicked in, and I found myself writing in the library, during class at times, and at home. I just wrote whenever I felt like it. I never felt like I belonged to anything anyways. So I belonged to myself.
During those loner times, there was someone who inspired me. He’s my current boy friend now and my best friend at that time. After a long time, I had an escort for my novels. I began to write love stories again, and the problem of not being close friends with anyone faded in the background. I began to take what I could take, and just let the good times roll. I tried walking on my baby feet as I staggered to the world of college life, and I’m still staggering every time I stand after I fall.
A new opportunity. Facing my fear. It was in the genes after all.
When my mom started to write for a magazine, I was ecstatic. She wrote beautifully, and her words were carefully chosen. I was excited whenever I saw the latest issue of the magazine, and planned to write for the magazine someday. Little did I know that it would soon come true. I got really excited was when she appointed me to cover national star’s concert. I looked back on the RSPC competition, and I challenged myself into writing something that wasn’t fiction. And in the end, I felt really good about myself because I impressed my mom.
A few months after that, I was called into a meeting for the magazine. Turns out, they were planning on making a junior writers team, and I was appointed leader! I knew there were responsibilities and tasks, but I was up for the job. My bucket list of working for a magazine was ticked off as I faced a new challenge.
And as I write this essay at twelve in the morning, I smile to myself as I look back at all the things I’ve gone through. I never realized how much I pushed myself to get back on the horse. I realize now that the best way to achieve anything is not to mope around and do nothing while you’re lonely. My motto is: when lonely, write! The best things in life come unexpectedly, and you better be ready with a pen and paper.
Almost one year later. A published book. Book number two on the way.
I’m finally here. After all the grueling and tiresome nights. After reading and editing till I was sick of it. After printing the copies to read it again. I’m finally published.
I have stumbled, and fallen. But I always knew that I was meant for this, I knew I had to endure them all.
After surviving the world’s biggest storm, I have stood up, dusted off the dirt, and wrote. I have written till I couldn’t, I have written till I was worn out. And now I’m done, my work is out there. With my blog and book in hand, I feel taller, though I’m only five feet tall (since I was 15).
Everything’s the same, yet a lot has changed. I still have the same escort, the same one who got me really started. One more year and I finish college, then it’s off to the real world. My younger siblings are now taller than I am, but I still get to boss them around. I am rarely lonely, I have my characters with me, just bursting to get out.
And now I have a new motto, one I will surely live by till the day I die. Write till your heart runs out of ink.
The first part was written almost a year ago. I’m proud to have come this far, to be where I am today. Tomorrow is still another world to tackle, but at least I lived today.
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