STORYTIME | on breathing words

When you love something, once in a while you ask yourself how you got to be so passionate about it. Here’s my answer.

As I wrote this, I contemplated putting “How I got into writing” as my blog title but halfway into it I realized that I was not only talking about writing but also reading. I realize what was in plain view and almost the same for all the writers—writing and reading are inseparable. People who breathe out words must breathe them in as well.

Now, let me get back to it and start.

Reading and writing were mandatory in school. In grade school, I studied how to write essays well because I was asked to join inter-school competitions. I loved English; it’s my favorite subject in school after Science. I loved reading fables and long stories in our books.

But back then, I thought I was just enjoying the subject, that I was just enjoying learning. I didn’t think there was something special about the way I enjoyed reading and writing. I remember having the same liking to reading and writing Filipino stories and essays so I didn’t think much of it. I just treated it as something I’m good at that I enjoy.

High school ensued and I was exposed to a broader expanse of literature. We were studying American literature now, along with some classic Filipino ones and I remained the same. Oooh, writing, nice. I’m good at that but nothing more.

It was around that time I started reading for leisure. Like real books that are in no way related to what I study about. When I was in 6th grade, I was a sucker for Filipino pocketbooks. My grandma had a huge box of them and I was really into reading them—must’ve been how I become to be this hopeless romantic. The first novel I read in high school that’s in English which I may not have understood and absorbed completely was my best friend’s: the second book of the Twilight Saga: New Moon.

Yeah, laugh all you want. Make fun of twilight. But it’s my first love. Jacob Black is my first fictional world crush. It will forever hold a special place in my heart because it’s the first novel and first series I’ve finished. I remember being extremely surprised I was able to finish reading a 500-page book in two days. Before I knew it, I was a bookworm.

There were instances that we were asked to write some short stories and I figured the reason why I was good at it was that I loved imagining things; scenarios, make-believe worlds and fantasies in my head. Add up the ideas I get from reading; I didn’t realize then how much release writing gives me.

It was not until I was in second-year college that I finally had to push words out of my head. It was not because I had too many fantasies. It was because my fantasies were becoming tainted with darkness, a black ink tainting all my memories and thoughts, turning my head dark.

I had to write my thoughts down before they become contaminated. I had to save the pink skies in my mind before the darkness takes them. At some point, I wrote to make myself believe that things were as good as the things I wrote; that I was just as fine.

And then, it came to the point where I realized I can write down the black ink itself. Instead of salvaging my good thoughts and have the darkness fill my head, I siphoned the dark thoughts and put them on paper, realizing that was much better. Seeing my insecurities and anxieties on paper made them seem immaterial like they’re just words, incapable of incurring damage.

From then on up until today, that’s how I lived. That was how I survived.

For years, writing has become my lifeline, as has reading. With the kind of place my mind has become all through these years, battling depression, my own self-loathing and the cruelty of this world, writing and reading are my sanctuaries.

Things that show me there is still something left of me when I thought I’ve become nothing. Things that tell me there’s still a way out when I’ve already locked myself in, throwing away the keys.

I hope you find your sanctuary in this world full of monsters and men who are in some ways too alike.

all the stars, semi


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