Do you remember your first foray into writing?

I do – not because it’s memorable, but because it’s a funny story. It happened sometime in August 1995, I was in Grade 4 and I dreaded going to my Home Economics subject because I didn’t make my project for the nth time. I remembered feigning constipation a few hours earlier hoping against hope that my mom would fall for it and would let me stay at home. But for the life of me, I now cannot remember what this jilted H.E. project was, although I have a feeling that big needles, yarns and some sort of patterns were involved.

Anyway, my H.E. teacher, who always gave me the stink eye, was about to call my name and ask about my creation when another teacher – a Grammar teacher, knocked on the door, and asked:

There is an essay-writing competition in the third floor and one participant is absent, who wants to volunteer?

Light bulb moment – “There’s my way out,” I said as I quickly raised my hand to volunteer. There were no other volunteers so the other teacher had no choice but to pick me. I victoriously walked out of the H.E. classroom and I felt that I dodged a bullet. The funny thing is that I do not recall the topic I had to write an essay about. I just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote some more, not even thinking if the words I pieced together made sense. Another thing I remember though is that I took my time in writing my essay so that once I submit my work, it would already be recess time.

Now, if this was a feel-good movie, what happened next would be me winning the essay-writing tilt, much to the surprise of my teachers and to the delight of my parents. Then I would tell you that this was the moment when I realized what I wanted to be in life – a writer. That scene would be followed by more writing awards won, a coveted position as the school paper’s editor-in-chief, a “most likely to be the next Jessica Zafra” high school yearbook prediction, a college course in literature, creative writing or even journalism; a job at a big publishing company or a newspaper, and numerous book deals. Of course, boyfriends and “the one” would be inserted somewhere in the middle of all that writing.

But let’s stick to the real world – the world where I didn’t win that writing contest. In fact, I have never won a writing contest because that essay-writing affair was the first and last writing competition I put myself through. I was never involved with the school paper and my high school yearbook prediction was “Most likely to be a comedienne”. I took up Sociology in college and aside from my term papers, essay exams and thesis I had no other written works.

But then something unexpected happened.

I was in third year college and one of the subjects I had to take was LIT 103 – World Literature. My professor, who we will call BigMac for old time’s sake, was a heavy-set woman and an engaging instructor who demanded the best from her students. Plus, she’s known for her hellish term paper subjects and critical grade-giving ways. So when she asked us to submit a term paper on The Trojan War (which, if you got a low score, will put a sizable dent on your final grade), I was nervous. Nonetheless, I submitted my work – after all, this wasn’t an H.E. project I could wiggle my way out of. Two weeks later, I got my paper back and to my surprise, the professor wrote a note on it:

Do you know that you can write?

When I first read that note, I played it cool. I figured, maybe she wrote the same thing on my blockmates’ papers. Then I realized that my paper was the only one with a note and at that point, I was stunned. What did this professor read that made her write that?

Still, even after that, I didn’t write anything.

Writing for fun and for creative purposes kicked in once I got out of college and started working as a blogger for a web publishing company. Suddenly, I found myself writing in notebooks and surprisingly, I had a lot to say and I found myself writing these stories about random people I meet or see in the streets. It helped that I was working with people who, like me, suddenly had something to say and found the right words to narrate them. I guess the reason why I delayed and denied writing for such a long time is because up until I was 21, I never had really good stories to tell – stories that are culled from shady and blurry life experiences. I think about it now and I realize that had I started writing in high school, all I could have written about are human interest pieces on Ronan Keating and my classmates who crushed on him.

So, what’s the point of this me-me-me story and how is it connected to the songs mentioned above?

Simple – the songs in my playlist are not exactly the staples or the go-to songs of famous groups (Beatles = Yesterday; The Carpenters = Top of the World; The Cardigans = Lovefool; Vanessa Carlton = That song from White Chicks; Snow Patrol = That song from Grey’s Anatomy; Britney Spears = Baby One More Time; Fleetwood Mac = Little Lies; The Cure = Lovesong).That, or some of these songs and the artists behind them wouldn’t be filed under the awesome songs or artists category. The thing is, if you give these songs three to five minutes of your time, you’d realize they’re pretty kickass too.

When I see myself in the mirror, I sometimes forget that I write for kicks. Heck, even if you read this, I don’t think you’d think that I write. My point is, there are a lot of people out there who are, in a way, like me – they don’t even know that they can write or that they have the potential to write; who when they see their reflections in mirrors, the word ‘writer’ is not the first thing that pops into their heads. These people are like the songs in this playlist – if you give them a shot, maybe you’d realize that their stories and their works are worth considering and liking. Of course, these people would have to give themselves a shot first – maybe they need to be stuck in a proverbial H.E. project or something.