“What would you do, Ate Patricia?”
I’ve just scraped off the last bits of longganisa from my plate and my little sister, Dani, is sitting beside me, asking me what I would do if I came across a giant dragon’s egg. I look into her probing eyes and try to imagine the scene. I couldn’t think of anything at the moment so I throw the question back at her, “Well, what would you do?”
The past weekend I had attended a lecture series on writing picture books. It’s always been a dream of mine to write children’s stories so I attended the lecture by Kwentista ng mga Tsikiting to get more educated on the genre. I was relieved to see an acquaintance from high school and college, Jamie Bauza, who is now a published children’s book writer and illustrator! I looooooover her planner. Searched for her online and found her blog and artworks on Behance.
The speaker that day was May Tobias, writer of “Araw sa Palengke,” who gave us excellent reasons to write and some tips on how to structure our stories. I suppose the best bit of advice I got was this quote from American writer Jane Yolen:
Write for the child inside of you.
Our enthusiastic speaker reiterates it further by saying: You want to write because your inner child wants to connect with the world. There is no reason for you to not write. Nothing should stop you from writing. And write we did. To cap off the lecture, we had a mini workshop wherein we had to pick three words from a list and make up a story with them. A few brave souls read theirs in front of the whole class (of course I didn’t; just the thought of it made my knees shake – I wasn’t ready for that kind of stress) and Mrs. Tobias offered some friendly advice on how to improve their stories.
It was a great class. I took my story home, edited it and for fun, read it aloud to Dani.
“Do you like it?”
“Mmm I’ll let you know tomorrow morning.”
“Err, what’s missing then?”
“I dunno…I think it needs more…stuff.”
“What kind of stuff?”
“Like more adventure or something!”
“But — ”
“Dani time for bedtime!” My mom yells out. And before I can get any more insights from my little sister, she runs off to the master’s bedroom, leaving me feeling…discouraged.
Last Thursday, though, she had no classes and was free to discuss her ideas (like some sort of Creative Director). She sat with me during breakfast time and told me about the stories in her head – which she had a lot of. She provided me with fantastic scenarios and asked me what I would do in each one; it was definitely one of the most fun and interesting brainstorming sessions I’ve had in a while. All throughout, Dani kept repeating one thing: Imagine. She constantly told me to widen my imagination and think of the craziest things that could happen.
“Imagination takes flight,” Dani says, slowly raising her hands to the sky. This coming from a 7-year-old. Where does she get this stuff???
The conversation reminded me about what I used to like as a kid – Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis – and made me see that the most precious characteristic of children is their ability to believe that anything is possible, that with imagination you can go places.
And with that, I’m going to do an awkward segue into something else I did during that same weekend. Right after the lecture, I headed to Kythe-Ateneo’s I am Hope: Dare to Dream, a project that “celebrates the reverie of big hopes and wishes of brave kids who go through the daily struggles of cancer.” I took a couple of photos during the event and I wanted to share them here. 🙂
Two years with this org has given me plenty of memories – both wonderful and painful. But it will always be a breath of fresh air to see these kids smiling, even through the masks, because of one free day under the sun. Because of their ates and kuyas who would bend over backwards just to get them to laugh. Because they could watch their wishes and dreams float up in the sky. Because life is worth celebrating every day. And because there is always hope.
“Write for the child inside of you,” she said. But first, remember what it was like to be a kid. I’m thankful I have my little sister and lots of little kiddies to jog my memory (incidentally, that weekend was also my cousin’s daughter’s baptism and they asked me to be the godmother – first time to be a ninang woot woot!). The greatest thing kids can teach you is to keep imagining, keep asking questions. Dare to dream and let your imagination take flight.
So…you’ve found a humongous dragon’s egg in your backyard, what would you do? Ready, write.