A proclaimed avid fan of our brand, Betsy was one of the first to submit a story when we launched our website back in 2014. Two years later, her enthusiasm towards writing and her love for The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® has not faltered. A regular contributor who supports our endeavors, her musings on life do not only inspire us from the team, but the rest of the community as well.
Read all about Betsy’s story as a writer and as a Community Member of Brew Your Best Year below.
WHAT DOES SHE DO? She is a hands-on mom who helps her husband run Philippine Habagat Baseball Club. The Club offers youth baseball trainings and sends out teams to compete in various local and international tournaments. She is also a Freelance Writer who contributes to various magazines, newspapers and internet sites, and blogs. She is a writer at heart.
1. Tell us about your story as an artist/writer. How did you discover your love for writing?
I have always loved writing. I used to be a shy kid who didn’t like talking to adults that much. But I was able to express myself and my thoughts better through writing.
I think I started writing poems when I was 10. I used to submit love poems to our high school newspaper. I started writing in diaries/journals when I was 12. I remember documenting everything that had happened to my day and I would feel bad if I skipped a day or two. I would even apologize to my diary when I didn’t get to write.
When I was in high school, I used to enjoy freestyle writing exercises. Our English teacher would give us a topic and we would expound on that. I liked those exercises because I got to write my personal thoughts and feelings about certain topics. My writing skills, as well as my thought processes, developed because of that.
I find it easy to write about personal experiences or topics I can relate to. When I was a teenager, I wrote poems and love stories. When I was a young, single, working adult, I wrote about relationships. When I became a wife and a mother, my topics were mostly about parenting and family issues. Regardless of the topic, my main objective when I write is to teach or help other people deal with certain issues. As much as possible, I also try to inject some humor in my write-ups. But basically, I write to inspire.
3. What is the highlight of your practice so far?
Every writing assignment is special. Believe it or not, I still get the same thrill whenever an article of mine gets published, whether short or long.
Being featured in Philippine Star twice was quite a feat (I won in two different essay writing contests sponsored by National Bookstore and PhilStar. Both essays were published on broadsheet).
I am currently working on a book (a love story novella that I am self-publishing). Once it’s out, I guess that will be the highlight of my practice. Even as a child, it has always been a dream of mine to write and publish a book.
4. Where do you get inspiration?
What inspires me – People, places, memories. Sometimes music. But mostly people. I like people watching.
When I ‘people watch,’ I observe how people interact with each other, and then a story, or an idea for a story, forms in my mind. And then I start writing..
I find it easy to write about things that I feel or felt strongly for too. If something draws out strong emotion from me, most likely I will be able to write about it. (Does that make sense?) But if you’re asking my greatest source of inspiration — it’s my son. It’s also because of him that I want to be the best that I can be.
It varies. I have a favorite The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store where I normally go when I need to de-stress. Sometimes, as I watch people come and go, I get the inspiration to write.
5. What is your creative process like?
Sometimes it hits me in the middle of the night… or right before I sleep. A thought or a topic just goes to my head and I just have to sit up, grab a pen and paper and jot down the idea (lest I forget in the morning).
When I was writing parts of my book, I had to listen to certain music to keep me going.
I always have to have a piece of paper ready for those “creative moments.” Table napkins help, too.
6. Do you experience creative blocks? What do you do when this happens?
Yes, a lot of times. Staring at a blank piece of paper (then) or a blank screen monitor (now) isn’t exactly ideal. It can be frustrating sometimes, especially when you have a deadline to meet.
What I do – I stand up, walk around, drink coffee, sometimes watch TV or I read. I try to relax.
7. How do you choose what story to write?
Like I said earlier, the topics I write best are the ones I can relate to – the ones close to my heart. Family, parenting, life lessons, personal experiences.
When I was writing for parenting magazines, there were times when I would be assigned several topics to write about that required research (ex. dry drowning, diet for kids, and the like) – I didn’t enjoy writing those articles as much. I can do good research and I can write informative articles but honestly, I found it difficult to make those articles interesting.
8. Who are some of the individuals you look up to in line with your craft?
I have always been a Sidney Sheldon fan. I have read all his books and I was sad when he passed away. I also like James Patterson and David Baldacci. For the chick-lit genre (which I enjoy reading especially when I’m stressed), I like Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin.
But my all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
9. What’s your favorite story that you’ve written?
For my published works – “The Undomestic Goddess,” published in 2007, PhilStar Newspaper. Winning entry to the contest “If My Life Were a Book” sponsored by National Bookstore and Philippine Star.
In this essay, I wrote about how I reinvented myself from being a single, career-oriented woman to a being a domestic goddess (translation: homemaker). I talked about the challenges and the rewards.
Undomestic Goddess and the other one, Spilling the Beans (They were both winning entries to PhilStar and National Bookstore sponsored writing contests).
But I am most excited about my newly-published book! I wrote about the story of how that came to be here.
10. What kinds of challenges are associated with your craft/job and how do you overcome them?
Insecurity and self-doubt. I believe I am my worst critic. I am a shy writer; I don’t advertise my works because I am afraid of how people will react to it. A lot of negative things go through my head like “I don’t write well” or “I’m not interesting enough.” Sometimes, I’m afraid people will find my topics shallow, while other times I fear they will think I’m such a know-it-all.
How do I overcome them?
1. I pray over my write ups before I send them (seriously!!) and
2. I go back to the reasons why I share my work: I want to inspire. I want to entertain. I want to help. I want other people to learn from me.
11. What are your biggest lessons as an writer?
I am my worst critic, but I can also be my best fan. I should try to be the latter.
The best stories you can tell are the ones you have experienced yourself.
Writing is a passion. It’s part of who I am. It’s also a talent – a gift. It should be honed and nurtured.
Sometimes you write for others. Sometimes you write for yourself.
12. What do you believe is an important factor in creating a good piece of story?
Grammar is important. Spelling is important. I believe you don’t need to use highfaluting words to make a point or to impress (which I just did!). Simple is good. What’s important is that your readers understand what you are saying.
A good piece is one that is clear and understandable. Avoid going around in circles. Know when and what to emphasize. Research when you have to. Give your readers something substantial.
When writing something personal, write from the heart.
13. What advice can you give the community, especially emerging artists/writers?
- Writers write, so, write.
- Get yourself out there. If you want to be published, submit your articles. You will never get published if you keep your write ups to yourself.
- Hone your skills. Write regularly. Go to writing workshops. Do writing exercises.
- Read. I believe reading and writing go hand in hand. Reading expands one’s vocabulary. Reading can inspire. Reading fires your imagination, fosters creativity.
- Don’t let the critics bring you down. At the same time, don’t expect everyone to like what you wrote.
- NEVER plagiarize.
- Be open to learning and as you learn, share your knowledge.
- Finish what you started – whether it’s an essay, an article, a script or a novella. Whether you get it published or not, a finished work is prize enough.
14. What is Brew Your Best Year to you and how has it inspired you as a writer?
Sometime in March of 2014, I wrote a piece intended for graduating students – some nuggets of wisdom I wanted to share – yet I didn’t really have any publication in mind to send it to. I believe it was providential that I came across the Brew Your Best Year website. (I am a loyal The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf customer, so I check out everything Coffee Bean!)
I think the site was also still pretty new then, there were just a number of articles uploaded. But I appreciated the fact that the site’s main goal was to inspire people. And so I took a chance and sent my write up. In April 3, 2014, my first article with Brew Your Best Year, “Live. Love. Learn” was published… and the rest is history.
As a writer, I am grateful that Brew Your Best Year is an avenue for me to showcase my work. The thrill of getting published is always there, believe me. But more importantly, I relish the fact that I can use my gift and talents to touch people’s lives. It’s passion and purpose intertwined.