Chasing Dreams is a feature about pursuing a career path that you’re passionate about and going after your dream job.
I’ve talked about Mina V. Esguerra’s books often enough here on the blog. She’s a Filipino author who has written several contemporary romance novels, some of which were self-published internationally and some traditionally published in the Philippines. Aside from writing and publishing her own work, Mina has also facilitated classes to encourage other Filipino authors to get their work out there. I knew she would have interesting things to say about pursuing a career in writing.
____________________________________________________________________Right now I’m in the middle of orienting my career toward writing and publishing, so all my thoughts are about writing and publishing and how awesome it is to be doing work that I love. But I didn’t always feel this way.
I started writing stories when I was eleven, so I thought I was going to be a writer. But while teachers, friends and family encouraged the hobby, I didn’t actually hear anything about how it could be a good career for me. Don’t you want to be a lawyer, I was asked, like the generations of lawyers on your mother’s side? Or maybe like the engineers on your dad’s side? (The second one, more obviously no.)
I studied Communication Arts in college. I knew that writing was only one skill among others that would help make me a well-rounded “communication professional.” It worked, mostly, and I got a job as a web copyeditor soon after, then as an online community moderator, then as a technical writer. Writing was involved in every job, essential, but not the writing I liked. I took a master’s degree in Development Communication, which asked for more writing, so much, and I started liking it less.
One day (and I still remember this) I just said: I don’t want to write anymore. It’s too hard. I just want to edit, because that’s what I do, no need to romanticize it. Whatever. I just want to watch TV. It was like that for years, a status quo that was comfortable and sort of had me at the fringes of the thing I really loved when I was younger. I thought maybe the disappointment was coming from me having seen the truth about writing and what it means to be a writer, and that this was it, just accept it.
Things changed when my status quo changed. I left private sector regular employment because of an opportunity I couldn’t resist, and became a freelancer, a consultant. One day I had a boss and a set of tasks, the next I had clients and a project to accomplish. I used to try to do well in “whatever they needed me to do,” but as a consultant I learned to be good at something and then work with people who needed that thing. In retrospect I could have vastly improved the way I worked just by using that mindset from the beginning, but I guess it had to take a major change for me to realize it.
I sort of fell into writing again because I began to gravitate toward the things I knew, and wanted to become better at. I told myself to do it only if I could still enjoy it, so I started writing the genre I most enjoyed (contemporary romances). The opportunity came to publish my own books and even though it’s a lot of work, I discovered that I like it. I also discovered parts of it that I don’t particularly like and enjoy, so I’ve stopped doing those. There’s always someone happy or willing to do those things anyway.
It took a long time to get to this point, but that’s how I figured out what my dream was. It took a mindset change, and it brought me back to what I love to do, showed me how to be better at it, and the key now is figuring out how to do it every day without hating it.
Good luck to us!
Thank you, Mina, for sharing with us your journey to becoming an author. I find Mina’s story inspiring because she almost gave up on writing. It took a while for her to figure out that she wanted to become a writer and yet I feel like she’s in a good place now. That kind of self-discovery is something that I’m trying to achieve. Good luck to us indeed!