Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
From Writer to Writer is a 2-part interview with Isa Garcia, author of the books Found: Letters on Love, Life, and God and Like Lines on a Map, which was released just last September.
In this second part of From Writer to Writer, Isa talks to me about what her tips are should anyone want to pursue a career in writing. Part 1 of this interview touched upon what she thought were pros and cons of being a writer. To give you a bit of personal insight, I officially started a career in writing in 2012, and I won’t tell you that it was a walk in the park. It’s a lot of hard work and patience, and of course, you need to have the passion and grit. It’s tough to keep the faith, especially when you feel things aren’t working out. But I need you to trust the process. It’ll all be worth it in the end. Here’s Isa with her thoughts and tips.
You’ve already published two amazing books at the age of 30, but you told me before that you were also a columnist for another publication. Can you tell me about that experience?
Having a column is great because you have a space where you can write anything. But at the same time, you feel also pressured especially if you wrote a really good article last week, and you feel you need to measure to the same level of skill.
I think, for the most part, I felt pressured a lot, but I think it was good because it happened to me at a time when I wasn’t writing so much.
Let’s talk about reading material. Any favorite reads or favorite authors?
If it would be books about writing, they would have to be Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Writers I’m loving now are Cheryl Strayed, Anne Lamott, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Neil Gaiman, who I think is the best fictionist of his time. Also, Hanya Yanagihara. She wrote this book called A Little Life, and I really liked her “slice of life” writing style. She was able to capture emotions so perfectly.
What’s your advice for budding writers? Where to get started?
I think the most practical idea is to pitch ideas online or on print. Join a writing contest, keep putting your content out there. Blog, or even just publish a Facebook note, especially if you feel you have talent. People will post that. Someone will spot that. Kick doors open, grab opportunities, and don’t expect it comes easy.
Also, you need to work with something that matches your skill set. Learn how to exercise a bit of “pickiness” when you write something. If I am assigned an article with a subject I know I’m not good at, I usually turn it down. I guess it has some implications on my byline and my work. I want something that I’m proud of.
How do you keep your momentum going, especially if you feel really uninspired?
Like Lines on a Map was really something I set out to write; Found, my first book, was a happy accident. In the event I don’t write a book again, I’m okay with that. But I think the thing about being published is that it gives you credibility, and credibility empowers you to keep on creating because you’ve already done and you keep doing it and you play around with it.
In my future, maybe I’d like to write a play or do a podcast. Those are little things I’d like to challenge myself with. A lot of the time, I tell aspiring writers, “You have to do the work.” You need to put yourself out there, and fight to get published. And once you do, once you see your by-line, I think that it’s such an empowering feeling that you can’t fabricate. Seeing your name out there gives you the courage to keep putting it out there.
What do you do when you encounter the dreadful writer’s block?
If I’m stuck, I take a break away from the page. My tendency is to read. If I read something that moves me and inspires me, the engine kicks in. When I encounter a beautiful line, sometimes I wish I thought of it, so it gives me the inspiration I need to get back on my seat and write.
Do you follow a certain “formula” when you write?
I start with an angle in mind. Whenever I write something, I try to find an unexplored angle—everything is born from that angle. After that, I need a good hook, like, “How do I start this piece in such a way that it’s interesting?” And then, it flows.
Tell us something not a lot of people know about your newest book, Like Lines on a Map, and what do you want to write about next?
Like Lines on a Map wasn’t supposed to be the original book. I had toyed with this title in my head for a while now—Every Rookie Heartbreak. It was just this one day, a few years ago, when I thought of it. It was supposed originally be about all the boys in my life, but yeah, that didn’t happen because I didn’t have enough material.
I think I would like to challenge myself to tell a Filipino story because I feel my books are so universal now, but I’d like to tell a story that talks about the meaning of being a Filipino. But this is the angle I’m born with, seeing the world and living my life as a Filipino.
Well, Isa, we can’t wait.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Photos courtesy of Isa Garcia
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