Which isn’t so old if you think about it. But consider this: I knew I wanted to be a book author at 15. I finally did it at age 37. You read so many quotes online saying, “Don’t wait”, “People in their death beds regret the things they never did”, “There is never a more perfect time than now”. These have been making the rounds since that day 22 years ago. What took me so long?
My reason is both laughable and poignant: It really just wasn’t the right time.
It sure wasn’t for a lack of trying. I must have started dozens of manuscripts in my life. Save for my first book, I never finished one. They came in all different shapes and forms: just words, just pictures, or a mix of both. Also in different mediums: a sketchpad, old notebooks, and finally on computers. Even my audience changed: strictly for children, a bit for young adults, and then more for adults. You name it, I started it that way. It would take two laptops churning past their warranties to breathe life into my first book.
I finished writing it after some 12 odd weeks back in 2015. I went through the self-publishing route (more on that next time) instead of the traditional one. In the end, my book was finally ready for the world.
Was the timing finally right in 2015?
Name it whatever you want: God, the Universe, Qi, it’s up to you, but things were (and please excuse the corniness of it all) aligning in my writing world. Totally unexpected. (Personally, I prefer God, since I’m a sort of starting-to-believe-again-Catholic.)
So here’s the (very quick) story:
A friend called me up June 2014 and said, “Hey, didn’t you want to write? There’s a writing program I’d like you to tryout. If you get accepted, they’ll publish your manuscript.” So I started a brand new one. It was about school mates in the Philippines trying to save their school from an Engkanto (a Philippine mythical creature) before school ends for the day. I did it on my then-dying second laptop. I submitted the first three chapters. Results came back August that same year.
I didn’t get in. But, believe me when I say this: that was the best news I could have ever gotten.
Fast-forward to January 2015, I found the same manuscript in some folder, read it, and said, “That’s not half-bad. Maybe I should finish it and see where it goes.” The next few weeks were a dizzying flurry of inspired type-writing and frantic researching about self-publishing. By early April, I was speaking to an editor. By early May, an illustrator for the cover. Not long after that, my heart was pounding as I clicked ‘upload’ on a self-publishing website, waited for the bar to complete, and saw the words “Your book is now online and for sale.”
I thought I was going to die of happiness.
It’s been more than a year since then and I’ve learned so much. But for now, what am I trying to say?
It’s true you shouldn’t wait. It’s true that you should start now. But if it doesn’t play out the first time, start again. And again. And again. Until you get one done. Who knows, you might even take only days, or weeks, or even months at most, to finish your manuscript. So get going. Boot up that laptop, or pull out that pad of paper and pen, stretch those fingers, and write away.