It was around 18 years ago, on one scorching afternoon in Surabaya, kids in white-and-red uniforms were all sitting in pin-drop silence, concentrating on their English test. The only sounds in the room was the ruffles of papers and the tapping of the teacher’s heels, slowly going around, eyes like hawk inspecting the room. I was 10 years old, bored and sweating from the heat, contemplating on what to do while waiting for the bell to ring. Having double-checked the paper for three times and was satisfied with my answers, I decided to challenge my English skill after the stress of the test, and wrote something, anything, in my new favorite language. So I grabbed a piece of tissue, opened the folds until it was completely flat, grabbed my blue pen and started writing. I wrote few simple sentences, (my name is…, I live in…, I have a brother, his name is…), and was about to fill in the last space of the tissue when, all of a sudden, a hand seized the white cloth from below my chin. It was Ms Lenny. She took a quick read of my creation (hah), and decided it wouldn’t do any harm on today’s test’s integrity, she put it back on my desk. I could feel all eyes were on me, and I could feel the heat rising up on my ears.
The next time the same thing happened was when I was in year 11. It was during a Bahasa Indonesia test, and I was bored. So I grabbed an empty paper, and wrote a song. Or a poem. This time, I didn’t even get to finish the piece, when the teacher snatched it from my hand. She had a read, and put it back on my table, and commented silently, “you should consider to be a writer”.
My childhood was filled with books. I’m pretty sure I had more books than Barbies or Play-Doh sets. My Mum bought me numerous book sets; from kid stuffs like Disney stories and fairy tales, to anthropology, astronomy, history and biology. Yes, she thought I would be interested in those kind of subjects at 10. But I really was. They’ve got the English version, and I remember I would marvel upon the wordings and the pictures and how amazingly colorful our world is. During my school time in Indo, my grades were always above average when it came to literature and art, and everything that involve human being, and I sucked so bad at Maths and anything else that has to do with numbers and logics. Oh, I sucked at athletics, too. I guess because it had to do with logic.
I was awkward as a kid (and I think I still am), so books were my refuge, my place where I could be myself. I wrote diaries, too, growing up, and was quite committed for some years. Man, where are those books, now. When I found out about blog, I was ecstatic. I started writing online using Friendster’s facility, which I can’t remember the name, and now I can’t find it on Google. Great. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the content transferred to my Facebook Notes, so yes, I hope everything is there.
In year 9, we were asked what kind of career we’d like to see ourselves in after we graduated. I answered, “anything to do with singing/music, writing, and movies”. My friends thought I wanted to be an actress or a singer, which was completely wrong because I hate being the centre of attention. So I figured I could be working along those lines, only behind the scene. That’s why I took Professional Screenwriting in 2006; writing, movies, behind the scene. Perfect. But somewhere along the way I realized that it was not my passion. Making movies is not my forte; I just love telling stories. Making movies have some limitations when it comes to creativity. First of all, it needs manpower for it to be made. It involves so many things to be considered, and it’s not cheap. Some may think I’m a coward, ‘you haven’t even try yet, and you want to quit?’. I said nothing about quitting, though. I just feel that when it comes to movie-making, ‘writing’ can be faked. In most cases, you write not because it’s what you feel, you write because you have to sell something. In the end, when you write you will pursue something that is far from what writing is about; honesty.
It is right to say that you have to work, to produce something. Some may say that money is not everything, but dude, without money you can’t do anything. Without money, I can’t pay the bills for electricity and internet connection, to buy a laptop and books and everything else that will help my writing. But whenever possible, I will stand my ground and be true to myself. Not to be liked, but to be hold accountable when needed be.
Writing has always been in me. And as I grow older, I learn that, for me, writing is about honesty. The stronger word, which I fearfully use, is integrity. When I unveil my thoughts and stream them down in words, concreting my hope and my fear, first of all I want it to be true. Not necessarily to be right, because I’m far from perfect, but to take writing as an act of unearthing myself; of finding and rediscovering myself. This much I owe to my Maker, and to those who will care to share my life (in person or in writing), that I am willing to give nothing less.
And let the journey of unearthing self begin.
Inspired by: The Writer’s Manifesto, by Jeff Goins.