Don’t take this the wrong way
You knew who I was with every step that I ran to you
– Hozier, “Someone New”
It all started at a hotel lobby in Seoul, where I found myself being overcome with a profound sadness that I couldn’t figure out the origins. All I know was that I turned to my mom that evening and said the words:
Mom, I’m going to quit writing.
Being the understanding mom that she was, she didn’t lecture me or make me take it back. She just listened to me while I explained that it wasn’t fun anymore, that I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing. And when all was said and done, she just nodded and said, “You just need the inspiration. That doesn’t always come easy, though.”
So I decided, on my own, that I was going to take a break, even though the rest of the Hideaway Trilogy was waiting for me at home. I promised myself that I only had those two books left in me, and that was it; from that moment on, I was going to take an indefinite break from writing altogether.
A few things happened when I returned to Manila, though.
There was Zumba, and walking, and nightly Netflix sessions with my sister. There was a near-obsession with the Avengers: Endgame press tour, and my semi-annoyance that RDJ and Jeremy Renner (remember him? hahaha) were in Seoul at the same time that I was there.
And then, for some reason or another, I ended up with an oppa on my Imaginary Boyfriend-slash-Happy Crush list.
(No, I have neither brushed up on K-pop nor succeeded in stalking Lee Dong Wook. But if you’re familiar with Korean honorifics and/or my social media presence, you would understand what I mean by Oppa Is Bae.)
And because I couldn’t deal with oppa being as oppa-worthy as he is–like I always do when I pick up a hot new imaginary boyfriend–I started writing. And writing.
Until I had two to three chapters of a thing that even I didn’t know I was capable of writing.
It’s not a perfect draft, but there are themes there that I didn’t expect to bring up. For one thing, it was the first time that I dealt with the subject of aging, which shocked me because until now I had been hiding or hinting at my real age for the last six years. I was dealing with characters close to my own age, which was scary and oddly liberating at the same time.
But most importantly, it was the first time that I started writing about how I felt about my time overseas. This may not have been the Hawaii story that I was meant to write–there are still a lot of emotions to deal with for that–but as I wrote it, a part of myself started healing the complex feelings that I had about living a sheltered life in the United States. I was not quite American, but not completely Filipino, and because of that I still have problems fitting in where I should be. Yet I started seeing myself in those characters, and while they’re not who I intended to write about in the first place, my connection with them came from a real place that I hadn’t imagined for myself.
As much as I wanted to keep this story a secret (for obvious, I-don’t-want-to-be-mocked-by-oppa reasons) I did end up talking about it with a few friends in person, and was surprised by the positive reactions. Though I’m still waiting for the beta reads to come in, there’s a part of me that’s still aching to write this–maybe forget about other people for a while, including oppa–which means that I must’ve made up my mind before I knew it.
That couldn’t be a bad thing, right?
I’m going to close out with a few more lines from our friend Hozier: “Would things be easier if there was a right way?/ Honey, there is no right way.”
Wish me luck.