Writing is definitely not easy. You pick up a pen and start writing. Before you know it, you are stuck. Well, so much for that idea. You start again but keep getting stuck. When you finally pass it up, it’s rejected. Then, there are those people around you who just seem to do so much better than you do. They just have that natural flair. Then you ask yourself: “Why am I even writing?”
WRITE ON: Parallel Ink! is a platform for 13-18 year old writers
Many young writers like me, who are just starting out, feel the same way. Many a times, we think writing is a solitary pursuit and eventually feel like giving up. That’s why staff of an e-magazine, Parallel Ink, Nicole Seah, Shannon (making her appearance in a video recording), Clara Fong as moderator and co-founder, as well as, previous editor-in-chief, Jamie Uy, came down to Young Writers’ Festival 2017 to discuss about the struggles and opportunities young writers face.
Parallel Ink is an international online literary and art magazine that started out with three close friends, Puinoon Na Nakorn, Jamie Uy and Jiyoon Jeong, and their love for writing. They met in an international school in Bangkok and became friends over a shared interest of English, math and arts. However, when Jiyoon Jeong was going to move to South Korea, the trio wanted to keep in touch. Thus, the magazine slowly formed – first with a few google documents with the three of them, then more international friends, and finally today’s online magazine for youths ages 12-18, that encourages and supports young writers and exposes them to overseas experiences through their different forms of art.
The panel starts at 2.10pm but the Hub is already flooded with people at 2pm. Clara Fong starts introducing Jamie and Nicole before playing a clip on Shannon. Then, she continues by asking the panel speakers about submission and publication. They shared about the rejection they faced when they published their first stories - it was not easy for any of them to handle it, but they learnt that rejection can hone their craft because rejection pushes one to think carefully about what to write, where to publish and knowing whether it aligns with the mission statement. Rejection and criticism is important in writing, we need to learn to accept it to flourish in writing. After rejection, cool and amazing things can happen, such as your work being accepted or awarded a prize because you reworked on it, just like how there is a rainbow at the end of every rain.
Next, they moved on to share on balancing writing with schoolwork. With both still studying at age 18, they understand and experience the difficulty in time management of schoolwork, tell us why we must balance it and how. Nicole says, “Passion is a steadily growing flame.” Even if we have schoolwork, we need to come back to it, and spend time on it to grow it. Jamie mentions that she would usually use her recesses, lunches and her June to August holidays, to write, an advice we could take in. Writing is our passion and interprets things that we loves – love of who we are, morals or a story of who we are, thus it is something we should make time for. “Write for the sake of writing.” Nicole says. However, she adds on that sometimes we have the urge to make the writing on things we love, complicated, but just as Steve Job says, she quotes, “ Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
The young writers also share that there are times when writing can get demoralizing because we see others writing better than ourselves and we think “why am I trying this anymore?” However, nobody is perfect and we all have our own taste. Tying back to rejection, when our work is not up to par, we will work on it an it becomes better. “Keep writing even when you feel like giving up.” Is what they advise. This is the time for us to take initiatives and opportunities in pursuing our own interests, to keep that love for writing burning.
Not to forget competitions, there are always competitions around us and sometimes, it can take a toil on us. Nicole shares with us her experience of joining the Creative Arts Programme - she felt like she was not good enough when so many other people seemed better than her. She suggests that we don’t hold ourselves back, because it stops us from opportunities to learn. “Every artist has their own journey” Jamie says. We should not compare ourselves to others. “Write for the sake of writing” Nicole emphasises again. Don’t write to please anybody, but write from the heart. Always keep focus on what we are writing and why we are writing. Last but not least, we must know when to give ourselves a break. Sometimes, we have to tell ourselves that we have tried our best and we leave the writing first, then come back to it later.
Now we know that whatever struggles we face in writing, we are not alone and that only the love for writing, can keep us going, keep us writing, because we would be writing for the sake of writing.