Writing has always been Ines Bautista Yao's passion. A pregnant Ines penned the first 13 pages of her novel in 2007 after breaking three glasses while she was doing the dishes. “So if you read the book you'll notice it opens with [my protagonist] breaking a glass,” she shares with Female Network, laughing. Ines was energized by the prospect of writing a novel, but she put her ideas on hold to focus on her pregnancy. While the joys and trials of motherhood soon occupied Ines's time, however, she never quite gave up the idea of finishing her book. In fact, she felt compelled to continue writing it.

"I write because there's something--not necessarily inside me--but there's something there that wants to be said," she says. Ines, who used to be the editor-in-chief of K-Zone then Candy Magazine, now edits for Summit Books but had previously only toyed with the idea of writing her own before.

The daily hustle and bustle of taking care of her daughter, Addie, took over her life, but inspiration finally struck her again in April 2011. One day, while three-year-old Addie was sleeping, Ines sat down to write. Two months later, her debut novel, One Crazy Summer, was complete.

In the story, college student Tania is sent to Silay City, Negros Occidental, for her internship after getting fired from her previous job at her tita's restaurant. Her blockmate Mateo follows her there for his own internship, and soon his best friend, Rob, makes an appearance too. Tania finds herself caught between the two boys, and it's up to her to figure out what her heart wants and how much her dreams of culinary success really mean to her.


TAKING A LEAP OF FAITH

While Ines is the first to admit she never envisioned Tania to be a reflection of herself, she doesn’t deny that there’s a big parallel between Tania’s self-discoveries in the book and her own. At the end of the novel, Ines shares, Tania takes a leap of faith and does something completely out of character to prove herself to someone. And while Ines isn’t sure she would do exactly what Tania did in the same situation, she says, “If I really believed in something as much as she did, I would take the risk and do it. If you really want something, you should just do it.”

Ines likens her own journey while writing to Tania’s realizations about herself and her life. “She knew what her dream was. She knew that she wanted to cook, and she knew what she wanted to be. So [I just really had] to encourage her to follow it and to own it.”


And just as Tania began to feel more at home with herself, Ines began to enjoy writing her novel. “You know when some people say they love having written but not the actual writing?” she says. She admits feeling the same way when she’s writing an academic paper or an article that needs a lot of research, but for her, the experience of writing a novel was different.

“I have no words to describe it,” she says, looking thoughtful. “It really felt like a step above reality. It was something I’ve never felt before. I felt like the words weren't coming from me. I'd think, ‘Okay, this is what I want to happen,’ then I'd start writing and something else would. So [I thought], ‘This is bigger than me.’”

An excited Ines knew she didn’t want to keep her novel to herself, so she sent it to her friends and asked them what they thought about it. After getting their approval, Ines quelled any negative thoughts she had about her work and sent One Crazy Summer to Summit Books publisher Aurora Mangubat-Suarez.

After four weeks of anxious waiting, Ines finally got word from the publisher--and it was good news. “It's the same [principle as what Tania did in the book],” she explains. “You just have to do it. If I got rejected--I was actually prepared since it's a possibility--I told myself it would be okay. [I would go] back to the drawing board and do it again because the actual experience of the writing was unbelievable.”

When One Crazy Summer was released eight months later, Ines felt like she was walking on cloud nine. “Everything was surreal. I didn't think this far ahead. I only thought as far as holding the book in my hands, and that was it. I didn't think about seeing it on the stands, seeing people blog about it, things like that. I didn't even consider that. All I wanted was to hold it, see my name, look at it, and that was it. But, of course, it doesn’t end there, right?” she shares, grinning.

Although the book was only released in December, it has already gotten positive reviews from the public. Ines’s face lights up as she recalls the thrill of seeing and hearing what other people thought of the novel. “My sister, Martina, put up a Facebook page for the book, and the first time I got a stranger, a total stranger, post and say, ‘I super love your book,’ I thought, ‘Wow.’”

Her favorite review so far is from a girl who said she’d stopped reading books and picked up One Crazy Summer because she thought the cover was cute. In her blog post, she thanked Ines for “opening up [her] senses again to reading” and touched Ines’s heart. “It was like, ‘Okay na. I'm so happy na,’” Ines recounts. “It's like my book was able to serve a purpose--that purpose of making somebody want to read again.”

Before Ines joined Summit Media, she was an English Teacher, so both writing and reading are close to heart. “To actually create [something] that helped make [this reader] want to read again, it’s so rewarding.”


THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

The book launch for One Crazy Summer was held on January 26, but Ines is already working on her next novel. She confesses that, after getting her first book published, she started feeling the void again. “Writing my book was what gave me my identity other than being a mom, and when it was [no longer] with me, I had nothing. So I was like, ‘Oh my god. I have to write something again.’”

Her first attempt failed, but she didn’t give up and eventually started on a new one. Now she’s on her fourth chapter. “It's taking longer because Addie’s not napping anymore,” she explains, “but I'm trying to find time to finish it.”

And making time for writing is precisely the advice Ines has for moms who are also interested in becoming novelists. Part of her success with her debut novel she owes to her husband, who supported her throughout the writing process. “When he knew I was writing, he'd take my daughter. He'd take care of her and play with her just to give me time to write. He'd come home from work, he'd be tired, but he'd still [do it].”

Ines says she also consulted with her husband whenever she got stuck in the middle of her story. “He was excited about it. What was cute about him was I discussed it with him. I’d say, ‘Okay, what do you think of this idea? What if I do this?’ And then he'd really be honest about it!’”

But at the end of the day, more than the support you get from others, it’s why you decided to write that’s important, Ines says. “I had to write this book for myself because I felt so consumed as a mom. That was my only identity. It's so different. You're used to being yourself, and then all of a sudden you're just mommy."

Somewhere along the way, she realized she had to create something that was hers. “That's what [writing this book] gave me. And that really made me feel that I was so much more than just a mom, and I think, even if [other moms] don’t want to write, as long as they have that something, it makes such a world of difference.”


You can grab a copy of Ines Bautista Yao's
One Crazy Summer at the nearest bookstore for P175.

(Photos by Mike Dee)

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