Young-adult fiction (AKA YA fiction) is one of the most popular genre of this generation. Yup, classics are still in, but if you ask some of your squad, we’re pretty sure that 3 out of 5 of their book recommendations are from this genre. Some of these YA titles were even adapted into films like John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the recent hit To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. But aside from reading these books, I know that in your mind you’re also asking, “San kaya nila nahugot yung mga kwento na ‘yun?” (Aminin!)
Luckily, we got the chance to interview 31-year-old Mexican writer Adi Alsaid at the Philippine Readers and Writers Festival 2018. We asked him about his writing inspirations, the difficulties of getting published, and dealing with writer’s block.
Is becoming an author always been your lifelong dream?
I have memories of enjoying writing and thinking of myself as a writer when I was 11. But I didn’t know that I would become one. I didn’t set it as my career goal. I studied marketing in college and I also worked for the basketball team in school. In short, I have other career options. So I always thought of myself as a writer, but deciding to become an author took a long time.
Based on your experience, how difficult was it to get published?
It was hard. I wrote three books, two of them I submitted to agents and I got almost 50 rejections per book. It was lonely, hard, and, for three years, it felt like that nothing is happening. But for many writers, three years is nothing. It felt hard, but I recognized my luck. You just need to accept rejections because no matter how good you are, you’re gonna experience it. You need to experience all the rejections and still continue writing.
What do you wish to impart to your readers every time you release a book?
I want them to have the experience of a good book. Whatever that means to them. Each reader takes something different from a book. I want them to remember the story and what is all about.
What inspires you to keep on writing?
Writing is a thing that I would do even if no one pays me to do it. If I didn’t have a book deal, if I had another career, I would still be writing. So it’s easy to find an inspiration in that because this is something that I want to do. There’s a lot of difficult parts to it and frustrations, but I will always keep on writing.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
It depends on how you define writer’s block. I never run out of ideas, so I never get stuck on figuring out what to write next. It’s usually about how do I get over this one section of this book because it’s not feeling right. I always think of what writer Jennifer Egan said in an interview, “Writer’s block is just a fear of writing badly.” We all write badly at one point or another. So if you’re gonna do it anyways, why do you need to get afraid? Write something that sucks and then fix it later. But it’s also helpful to step away. Go watch a movie, take a walk, or do anything that you like, and then come back to it later.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read a lot, read widely, and don’t read just the genre you enjoy. Read everything because it turns you to be a better writer. You can’t become a writer until you’re giving time to do it. Whether that’s a thousand words a day or thousand words in every two months, however long it takes you, sit down and do it.