2017 showed my how privileged I was. Not that privileged, but it was enough to let me to do what I want: work indoors and write my life away without worrying about the electric bill or the rent. Life has been, overall, good. I have been living under God’s umbrella in the form of my parents. Our house, whose floors become evident of the effects of the recent earthquakes, became a haven for me.

But it wasn’t comfortable. I still get small, short anxieties. Sometimes, I hiss at myself with a desire to kick my ass. This isn’t how it should be. I, just like every other person past their thirty years, was supposed to be out there, fully accomplished, renting her own apartment, paying her own bills, driving her own car. I had none of that. I may have very little money to even fund that. I also have little courage.

So this is what I did: I grasped the opportunity and spent the entire 365 days pursuing a dream project, something I would have never attempted to if not for that small opening 2016 gave me. I started to hope. I changed. I became more than a writer. I became a Filipino writer. And while there were some cringe-worthy parts in my novel involving forced addition of my cultural elements (which I plan to edit later on when I get a new pair of vision — not necessary literal), I am proud to say that from a novel that I wrote because of a plot that haunted me 10 years ago, here you’ll find something more close to home. And that’s what I’m pressing on for this coming year.

This was the year I accepted the graces of my parents and moved on with a sole focus of pursuing my craft. Like Jo March, who was my childhood heroine (and who still broke my heart because HOW COULD SHE NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH LAURIE?) I pegged away at writing. I am proud to say that I have assembled, dissected and knitted Saltfolk in the most trying way possible, but I also have started on writing other projects: The Broken Constellation, Salamanca Zero, and the potential Saltfolk follow-up, Fifth the First. Writing is my life. Writing is for me. Writing will be there when no one else would.

Well, I still hope someone would, but that would be later on, I guess?

First things first: a book

If I could tell you what broke my heart over and over again this year, it was this: mid-story revision. It’s when I knew I couldn’t go on further because I was stuck on a paragraph, and no matter how much I try to get roundabout it, there was no chance of saving the plot. I had to start over and over and over again to get here — which involved deleting old characters and breathing life into new ones. Writing a book was a torture. There were nights I couldn’t sleep because I was still writing even while on bed. I think that’s the reason why I’ve been so sleepy these days; to make up for the lost snoozes I could have had during August to October. That, or it’s just cold.

But writing taught me a lot about God’s Creatorship; how He was so careful in planning out everyone’s lives because little things make a thunderous ripple. We don’t know how we affect someone else, but He, the Writer of Our Stories, does. There are invisible interwoven threads that bind us all; only the Writer knows the whys and the hows. So skillfully did He mapped out our lives even before those fateful encounters. So wise did He put those stumbling blocks in our paths to help us grow stronger, wiser. And just like a Gardener, He looks on and waits for us to blossom into a better version of ourselves, without being demanding.

Being a writer is a privilege in itself. To send out those words, those thoughts and emotions, line by line. Perhaps, art is never meant to call attention to itself. It just thrives and ripens until it is time to be plucked out and enjoyed by many.

I learned a lot this year. I was patient. I counted time. Mortality was beautiful, as my dad so reminds me. I appreciated things all the more. Encouraged more. Loved more. Took risks more. Sent letters and received rejections. Thought of things that made me, at times bigger, at times smaller. I let myself be loved (and sometimes berate myself from being loved too much — do I even deserved it?). I questioned my intentions. I let God answer it for me. And looking at everything now, from where I’m standing, I could say it has been all good. All good to me.

True, I was privileged. I don’t know until when I will stay under this warm, comfortable umbrella, but I’m sure of one thing: I plan to use all the love given to me back to the poor-spirited, droopy hearts. I will love hard in return. I was given much, so I will give back much.

My only prayer now is that God would take me one step closer to my dream life, because I’m ready for this long drive. Great things take time, but I don’t aspire to be great. I aspire to be good. And that’s enough.