I never thought I’d ever do anything with my writing. I’ve been writing for years, not exactly in secret, but not really doing anything about it either. 2018 was when I applied to TallyPress, got accepted, and started to call myself a writer. But it wasn’t until I met local author Charissa Ong that I decided that I wanted to become an author, and this is the story of it.
Fascinated With Words
One of the very first things my mum did with me as a baby was to introduce me to words. Very naturally, I picked up a strong reading habit, which persists today. (Bet my mum didn’t expect that she’d have a book addict for a daughter when she thought just to give me a headstart on recognising words.) She also put me in a creative writing class when I was eight, and it was then I first conjured short stories of dinosaurs and pirates, koala bears and warrior princesses.
AND THEN I HAD A TON OF OTHER CLASSES AND GROWING UP GOT IN THE WAY, SO I STOPPED WRITING FOR A BIT (BUT I NEVER STOPPED READING)
The next time I picked up a pen again was when I graduated from college. Oddly enough, it was all the assignments I had to do that reminded me that I used to write. It took a while to get used to writing things that weren’t assignments, but I started off penning down responses and feelings to current issues, almost like diary entries, and from there my imagination took flight. After I graduated, I did a couple of things, but I couldn’t really let writing go. Eventually I found my way into TallyPress, and I’ve been churning out articles for almost four years now, while keeping up a personal stash of writing.
One of the perks of being in media is getting interview opportunities, and it was last year that I had an opportunity to interview Charissa Ong, a best-selling local author, for the launch of her boxset. (Which you can read here.) Both of us are self-proclaimed introverts, but we managed to hit it off anyway as we have a common love for books and writing. During the interview, Charissa was kind enough to offer to take a look at my writing, so I took her up on her offer and sent her a couple of pieces. I didn’t think I sucked, but I didn’t know if I was any good either, especially if I wanted to get published. Charissa returned with good news: she thought I had potential, and encouraged me to write a book. She even published one of my short stories on her website, The End of the Bucket List.
Now, An Aspiring Author
I’ve been a writer most of my life, but I’ve never been an aspiring author. Now I am. Currently, I’m working on my book, a compilation of short stories, to be published under Charissa’s publishing house, Penwings Publishing. If I had never met Charissa, I’m not sure if I would have ever made a decision to put out a book. It just goes to show that an encouraging word at an opportune moment can put someone on a path of no return in the best possible way, and I’m very happy and grateful that I call Charissa a friend today. (U da best, Charissa, I cannot wait to send you more ACOTAR fan art :D)
What About You? Wanna Write?
As Charissa’s friend, I can tell you that she’s a strong advocate for education, and is committed to build the local writing community. Over the years, she’s gotten many questions about how she writes books and publishes them, and she feels like a broken record repeating the answers over and over again. Her solution? Write another book to tell you how to do it. Calling it a “giant FAQ” on writing- and publishing-related questions, Poetry and Short Stories – A Practice Book is part self-help, part activity book suitable for budding writers, or those who are interested to try their hand at writing. Here’s what’s in the book, briefly:
- Two sections: short stories and poetry
- Practical exercises on identifying common mistakes in writing
- Daily writing challenges
- Deciding on themes and genres in writing
- Poetry prompts
- Crafting a cover letter for manuscript submissions
Basically, it’s an end-to-end book, whether you just want to pick up a new skill in writing, or are an aspiring author wanting to get published. Charissa’s Practice Book is now available for pre-order at RM35.90, and will be launching 9th September 2021 nationwide. Pre-orders will be autographed though, as an added perk, so definitely do check it out!
Charissa helped me kickstart my author dreams, and now she’s out to help more people write as well. With her book, you might find it easier to navigate the wonderful world of writing, so give it a go. This is also a story of our friendship, so if you’re interested in a pair of friends that will not shut up about books and writing, we’re online:
- Website: https://penwings.com/
- Charissa’s Facebook: Cotypoems
- Charissa’s Instagram: @cotypoems
- Yiing Zhi’s Instagram: @yiingzhiwrites