Let Me Rage: Thoughts on Youth Involvement on Wattpad as a Form of Literature

Dahil nabasa ko na naman yung thread at natrigger na naman ako. We may have different opinions on this, but coming from someone with no professional education in creative writing but wrote stories anyway, here’s mine:

Ano ba. Let young people read and be inspired and write. Why is there a genre hierarchy? May tinatawag kasi tayong expertise. Some people just find it more comfortable to write romance, some historical fiction, some poetry. Political issues are instilled in some works. Have they browsed Wattpad? Inkitt? Meron namang mga categories do’n. You don’t like romance? Then filter. You don’t like tropes? Filter. Seriously.

Also, di ba kayo nagkamali ng grammar once in your life no’ng mga bata pa kayo? Why are you expecting these young authors to be perfect in an instant? Let them learn. Babalikan nila ‘yan kapag laki, and they’ll cringe about how bad their grammar and writing and plot-planning were. They’ll learn, but don’t dictate them what to write when they have just learned about their newfound interest. Let them imagine, explore. Guide them. Mentor them. (Also, if the story has potential but has grammatical lapses, there are editors who can fix them.) Not to mention, most published Wattpad authors have received comments like “Salamat po libro ninyo, nagustuhan ng anak ko ang magbasa” from parents.

I get down whenever someone disparages Wattpad. I know this is an opinion, and I rarely react to opinion nowadays, but it’s really different for things I am passionate about. It reminds me of a time when I felt belittled after I told some people I was writing online stories. The conversation went something like this:

“You write?”
“Yes, in Candymag’s creative corner.”
“Wow, you’re a column writer.”
“No, no. It’s online . . . where users can post their short stories and poems. Then I started posting on Wattpad in 2013.”
“Ah . . . Wattpad.”

I’m not sure if I just overthink things, but the last line would be uttered condescendingly. And I’ll be honest that it took me years to keep my chin up and be confident about what I do and where I chose to write. Often I lower my voice—a sign of discomfort—when people ask, “O, author ka pala! Ba’t di mo sinasabi?” because I’m afraid I’ll be judged again. Even recently, when I told my interviewer that I wrote stories online, she disdainfully replied, “Lahat naman na gusto magsulat.” My tone changed after because I felt discouraged (after all, I didn’t want to work with people who make me feel uncomfortable and belittled), and I didn’t pursue my application. I mean . . . what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with everyone wanting to write? Everyone wanting to get published? It takes time to think of a good plot, stitch words together, relate to readers, and finish the story itself.

Why do some people fancy pulling others down? And what do they get from this?

Even teachers discuss online stories to start their lesson proper and motivate students so they could relate to them. If online stories are a way to make students love reading, then parents, teachers, the community, and the educational system should start finding gems in these platforms that promote values they want to instill. Some criticize Wattpad stories for being vulgar but applaud shows depicting the same. I just find this view very elitist. Wattpad is free and accessible, and so is Facebook. These books you recommend come with a price, and only those who can afford them are privileged to have them.

Sana iniisip din natin ‘yon, and instead of building a culture of denigration, we form cooperation and, indeed, improve our country’s literacy.

One thought on “Let Me Rage: Thoughts on Youth Involvement on Wattpad as a Form of Literature

  1. Naalala ko, bukod doon sa Twitter, yung post sa Facebook na “Philippine literature . . . is just sad.” with pic ng book ni Ate Tina. Nakipag-sagutan pa si Ate Ulan sa isang nag-comment kasi mababa raw standards ng mga nagbabasa ng Wattpad books. Dami pa nagsasabi na basura raw etc. Nakakagalit talaga yun eh. Di ba nila naisip na yung mga aspiring writers na pwedeng maging *big* sa literature in the future eh tinatanggalan nila ng pag-asa? Mostly ayaw nila sa romance eh. Uso naman dati ang pocketbooks pero walang nagda-down don? O meron di ko lang knows? Pero ugh, sobrang baba ng tingin nila sa Wattpad 🙄 Sana magbagong buhay na sila this 2020. Hindi pa huli ang lahat. Cheret. Huhu.

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