- Success really doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a series of steps, consistent effort, a willingness to keep practicing one’s craft and keep getting better.
- The rewards of monetizing your gift goes WAY beyond the income. The joy lies mostly in nurturing your gift, sharing it, and seeing people are happy because of it.
These are just some lessons that crossed my mind after reading my friend, Joshene Bersales’, answers to my questions about making her dream happen.
Last year, Adarna published her first children’s book, Bianca’s Big Secret. And just like Bianca, Joshene kept this book a BIG secret for months!
Below, Joshene gives us a glimpse of her journey–from writing stories as an eight-year-old, to, more than 20 years later, becoming a children’s book author.
I hope this post inspires you to pursue your dreams in any way or form you can. 🙂
Joshene’s Big Secret
Q: How did your journey as a children’s book writer begin?
A: I started writing stories when I was eight years old. I don’t really remember what I wrote about, but I do remember writing on the back portion of used books and notebooks.
I think I started to seriously consider writing for children when I was in fourth year college. My thesis was about Augie Rivera’s Ang Batang Historyador series. (Each book features a specific period of Philippine history, and shows how a child made his/her voice heard in each period.) I remember telling myself that I, too, want to write something as cool as that.
Q: Where did you get inspiration for Bianca’s Big Secret?
A: Back in 2006, I had a churchmate who came to church one Sunday, her handkerchief covering her mouth the entire time. We later found out that she had broken one of her front teeth and that she was embarrassed by it. It made me wonder how a young girl would react to a similar situation–would she be embarrassed too? would she not care?
I also wanted to connect this experience to a child’s creativity, like, how can she express herself if she can’t open her mouth?
Q: What are some lessons kids will learn from your book?
A: I think the best lesson I want kids to learn from my story is that physical changes are normal, especially while growing up. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Everyone goes through them, so don’t let something like a missing tooth or a sudden growth spurt affect your daily life.
I also wanted to touch upon briefly, subtly, the importance of a support system for the child. Many children fear teasing or worse, bullying, from their peers. A strong support system–parents, teachers, friends who are a good influence–allows children to have more self-confidence and creativity in expressing themselves.
A Writer’s Life
Q: What do you love about being a writer?
A: Honestly, I love it when I hear kids say they enjoyed reading my book. That they can relate to Bianca, or that they find the classmates’ guesses silly. When they make their own guesses on what Bianca’s big secret is. When they understand in the end that it’s okay to be different, or to be funny and let their imagination run wild. That alone is enough of a reward for me. The passive income via royalties is just a bonus, but a welcomed bonus nonetheless.
Q: What challenges come with being a published author?
A: The pressure of releasing a second book! People would ask me when’s my second book coming out, and I always have to tell them that, wait!, it’s not that easy to get published, or even to write a good story.
Q: What are your tips for aspiring children’s book writers (or writers in general)?
A: Write something that’s important to you, not just what’s trending or popular. Because let’s face it, you will read that story over and over until you’re sick of it, so might as well make it about something meaningful.
Don’t be afraid to write about something silly, bizarre, or out of this world. Roald Dahl once wrote about a chocolate factory and people loved it. Maurice Sendak made a book about wild things and it became a beloved children’s book classic. You can write something like that, too. The only limit, really, is your imagination. So stretch it, and stretch it well.
Lastly, don’t get too attached to your story. Chances are, your editor will point out sections you need to revise or, heaven forbid, delete altogether. Don’t take it against him. He’s just doing his job. Trust your editor and work with him instead of against him.
Q: Any tips for anyone about finding, nurturing, growing their gifts and eventually monetizing it?
A: Just keep using your gift. You want to write? Write stories, attend writing workshops. You love cooking? Make use of your kitchen to test out recipes, enroll in a cooking class. Got a knack for archery? Find a community and practice with them! The internet also offers a vast pool of resources you can use.
Just be patient. You won’t be an expert in two weeks’ time, but push on. You’re enjoying it, right? Next thing you know, you’ve already leveled up and you’re finally ready to face more challenging, and hopefully fulfilling, activities.
Q: Where can they read about your other works?
I have a story in Lampara House’s BAKLAS: Antolohiya ng mga Radikal na Kuwentong Pambata, edited by Eugene Evasco and Segundo Matias Jr., and in the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ ANI 39: The Animal Kingdom. I also have a few entries in OMF Literature’s devotional, Encouraging Workers for Children.
Q: How can they reach you/connect with you (ex., public Twitter/FB accounts, page for your book, blog, etc.)?
My Twitter account, @senoradonagato, only has nine followers because I rarely use it, but I do try to post as often as I can :). I also have a blog, Singled Out(ings) (https://novemberstranger.wordpress.com/). Or just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
Q: Where can they buy your book?
Bianca’s Big Secret is available at the Adarna Bookshop in Quezon City, or you can order via https://adarna.com.ph/products/biancas-big-secret.
There are also copies in Fully Booked, National Book Store, and Pandayan Bookshop branches. Or order them from me directly! 🙂
Do you have questions for Joshene? Just let us know!
Or perhaps you also have some tips for writers/aspiring authors? Feel free to share them below.
Do you have a story you wish to share about turning your passion into a passive or active income stream? Just send us a message and we will get in touch with you. 🙂