Everything I Write, I Owe To The Baby-Sitters Club

Earlier this year, I found myself with a cart full of books at the annual Manila International Book Fair. As I handed over my books for payment, the cashier told me I needed to add one more book so I can avail the special promo where customers can get a free Fully Booked membership card with a P3,000 purchase. Outside of the book fair, there were three ways to get a membership card: you buy it for P700, buy P10,000 worth of books in one go or get an accumulated P15,000 worth of receipts in one year… And while I am already halfway to the latter, I decided to take advantage of the book fair promo.

I left my books with the cashier and went around the huge Fully Booked stall, going back to some of the candidates I was eyeing earlier on. I’ve been buying a lot of historical fiction and lifestyle books this year, so I decided to wander the YA section for something inexpensive and fun. As I scanned the shelves, I caught sight of one of my favorite series from childhood: Ann Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club.

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When I was 7 years old, my mother bought me my first “grown-up” book. Up until that point it was all children’s books: Ladybird hardbacks, Bible stories, fairy tales, Sweet Valley Kids. This was a paperback printed with a smaller font, with pages that hit a little over a hundred pages. The protagonists were young teens and they dealt with situations I was unfamiliar with: having club responsibilities and attending meetings, living with a lifelong illness, dealing with divorced parents, having a sort-of boyfriend.

This book, in particular though, dealt with the club’s token sensitive, quiet baby-sitter and a kid that’s acting out and flip-flopping from being OCD to being messy. It’s that particular book that will start a collection and spark a passion for reading: The Baby-Sitters Club #73: Mary Anne and Miss Priss.

I haven’t touched my copy since a couple of years back, when I found it semi-ruined by termites that found their way in our mini library. I ended up crying over it, like I lost a part of my childhood and a part of my future. I spent days of my childhood rereading that book. Later, when I hit adulthood, I thought about keeping my collection so I can hand it down to my future children, to get them into reading the same way it did for me.

Silly as it sounds, that simple book changed my life. I don’t know where I would be now, had I not been given that book. It was the first time I realized that there are people behind books, that there are people who crafted this alternate world and somehow made it a reality through pages and pages of words.

The book also gave me a gift for which I will forever be thankful for: the realisation that I can also do something like that. That I can also weave words and build worlds.

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And so it began: my writing journey. I was doing fan fiction in grade school, way before fan fiction even became a term. In high school, I gave feature writing, editorial writing, and poetry a shot. Everybody encouraged me to write, from my parents who never doubted my writing skills even if I never really felt comfortable with it; to my English teachers who gave me high marks in my essays and reports and told me to keep writing because “you have a gift”; to my friends who told me I saw life through the eyes of a storyteller.

I also blogged a lot before it became a thing, enough for me to get in trouble. I was on Diaryland, on LiveJournal, then it was Blogger for several years until I switched to WordPress in 2015. I started sharing my life when I was 13 (oh, how that became a high school fodder), gave fashion blogging a shot at 19 (I still cringe about my “fashionable” outfits), attempted to immortalize my travels at 23 (still attempting, as you can see). I’ve also, somehow, made a career out of ghostwriting a travel blog for a travel agency.

And throughout it all, the one thing I’ve always struggled with is consistency.

See, I’ll always have this huge push of motivation. I’ll be so inspired, I’ll find it hard to let go. Bits of loose dialogue to be further developed. Plot lines that seem interesting. Character conflicts palpitating with tension. Blog topics per month and a general flow of how I want to tackle them. Long-winded narratives on my Moleskine.

And then, somewhere along the way, I’ll just run out of steam and stop.

Like my brain can’t keep up with the onslaught of ideas. Or my hands are too slow to craft something out of those ideas. Like I can’t decide on which writing project to take on, so I abandon all of them instead of picking just one.

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Despite it all: I still choose to keep this blog. I’m giving it one more shot, even if it feels a little vain to do so.

Sure, some of the stuff I’ve written may never see the light of day. I have more unfinished plotlines and stories than I can count, discarded drafts stashed in old notebooks, and half-hearted narratives cast aside for the next writing whim. There’s a good chance they’ll stay hidden in a cramped drawer or in my secret drafts folder.

Or maybe… I’ll pluck up the courage one of these days and actually give one of those drafts a chance to live up to their full potential. Maybe I’ll stop second-guessing and editing and worrying over every little word. Maybe I’ll have the courage to put them up here, for you to read.

Until then, I’ll be trying, really trying, to nail this thing for good. Not for money, not for fame, not for you, dear reader. But more for me and that 7 year old girl who discovered the magic of writing.

Wish me luck?

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