Writing, like its counterpart reading, is essential in our lives. But have you ever wonder what is like having it as a profession? How do we start and develop it? What are some tips to be one of the best? Most importantly, how can we use this it to glorify God? Delighting Grace talks with Marlene Legaspi-Munar to answer those questions and more:
Delighting Grace: Hello Marlene, so tell us when did you start writing?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: I started writing as a hobby when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I first wrote poems and then later on I also tried writing stories. My first short story was published in a magazine when I was 16 years old. I was also a contributor in our high school organ around that time. I began writing professionally about two years after college graduation.
Delighting Grace: Who do you look up to in writing? Any writing heroes?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: Well, there are writers whose style of writing I admire, like Max Lucado. I also like the style of Bob Ong. I admire the way Robin Jones Gunn connects with her readers not only through her writings, but personally and through the social media. There are some other writers I’m thankful for because their writings inspired me a lot.
Delighting Grace: They say that if you’re a good writer you must be a good reader also? Do you see that in becoming a writer?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: Oh yes, that’s true. I grew up surrounded by reading materials. I would read piles of old magazines from my aunt’s attic during summer. My other aunt also bought for us encyclopedia and other books, including the Bible. In grade school and high school, I would always borrow books from the library and even list the books I’ve read. I think my love for books led me to my love for writing.
Delighting Grace: Another is a sort of rule in writing. That is, you should write what like. Do you follow or break this rule?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: When I was working as a magazine staff writer, I had to write about the assignments given to me; I had to do that even as a freelance writer getting assignments from editors. But as a freelancer, somehow I have freedom in choosing writing assignments. I wouldn’t choose a project or topic which I’m not enthusiastic about.
Delighting Grace: Where do you get inspirations in writing? Any sort of “rituals” you do before you write?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: I acknowledge that God gives gifts, and I’m very thankful that He has given me the gift of writing. So it’s obvious that I get inspiration from Him first of all. Before I write, I pray that God would give me wisdom, insight, and understanding. I also pray that He will use me to enlighten and encourage other people with my writings.You could call that a ritual. Also, my husband has observed that I have a ritual before I could write–I would set up my writing station this way: plug my computer, put a foam under my table as a footstool, and another foam on my chair. Only then could I begin writing.
Delighting Grace: You have done services in different Christian organizations. Can you tell us which is the most notable and unforgettable among them and why?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: Each project I do with a Christian organization is significant because of the opportunity to sow good seeds–the word of God. For instance, I’m grateful to have written Bible-based values modules for VOICE Philippines. These materials are used in public schools for values education. I’m happy to have a contribution in the values formation of our young citizens.
For three years, I also served as a consultant for the curriculum revision project of the Philippine office of Compassion International. Within those three years, our team was able to come up with a national curriculum for all the church partners of Compassion all over the Philippines. The curriculum was designed to help in the holistic development of their sponsored children.
Delighting Grace: Great! In what ways can we exalt God in our writing? How does writing strengthen our faith?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: We can exalt God by what we write and how we write. There are so many things to write about–but in the end, I believe that we should write about the truth or what we write should lead us to the discovery of the truth. Philippians 4:8 also gives us a good guideline: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Bad news sells, that’s why all the more we should promote news or stories that are noble, admirable, excellent. If our writings (in whatever form–be it straight news, fiction or devotional) reflects these virtues and if they inspire and lead us to God, then we have strengthened the faith of our readers. And that means we have glorified God.
As writers, we can also exalt God through our work ethics. Writers show a spirit of excellence in their patience in crafting a good story, in their respect for their readers, editors, and publishers, and in meeting deadlines. Properly acknowledging a source is also a sign of a truthful and responsible writer.
Delighting Grace: What if I’m a novice in your field, what is the most indispensable advice you can give me?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: Read, read, read. Write, write, write. You learn a lot from what you read. You not only gain knowledge, you also learn about writing style from different authors. Have a writing journal to jot down your book ideas, observations, quotes, your own thoughts and feelings, and just about anything you feel like writing about. This will become your rich source of materials for writing later on. It helps to have some training so if you have opportunity, attend writing seminars. Sometimes I’m invited to conduct writing seminars. If your group wants to have a writing seminar, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange to have one for your group. Connect with writers too. Follow me on twitter: marlene_munar. Many writers are happy to interact with their readers.
Delighting Grace: You wrote a book “Add Mo Ko as Friend”. So tell us more about it.
Marlene Legaspi Munar: “Add Mo ‘Ko as Friend” is a book written in Taglish and published by OMF Literature. It’s about developing online and offline friendships. There’s a chapter on social networking, making friends through Facebook. Other chapters cover how to be a true friend. It became a bestseller at National Book Store–first in June 2012 when it reached the Top 5 slot, and then in July 2012 when it moved up to Top 3 position in the Philippine Publication Category. I thank God that many readers care to tell me how the book has helped them know more about themselves as a friend and how to relate better with others. You can purchase a copy of the book from OMF Literature’s website where they have an e-store. It’s both in print and digital edition. The e-book or digital edition is available from Amazon and Flipreads. I hope you’ll also like and share its Facebook page.
Delighting Grace: Please invite our readers to get in touch with you. You have a blog and some social media, right? Also your work as a freelance writer.
Marlene Legaspi Munar: I enjoy writing and I hope I’m able to inspire you all. I also love hearing from readers! So please follow me on Twitter. I also have two blogs, Perspective where I post my reflections and Happy Traveler where you can read about my traveling adventures (yes, I like to travel!). You can learn more about the works that I do and see some of my photos in my website. You can also email me at email@example.com.
Delighting Grace: Any parting words for those aspiring Christian writers who want to make writing as a profession like yours.
Marlene Legaspi Munar: If you feel that God has called you to write for Him, dedicate your life to this calling. Spend time reading God’s Word, the Bible, because you can learn much about life and what to write about through the Scriptures. Be trained and hone your writing talents. Be humble and accept constructive criticisms. Expect to work with many people involved in publishing. Endure but enjoy the process of writing. As much as the task of writing is a process, the writer is also a work in progress. You are called not just to be a writer, but to be a disciple of Christ. God will use your journey as a writer to shape you into Christ-likeness and draw you closer to Him. You may be writing a story, but in the background, God is writing yours. God bless you and hope to see your works in print!
Delighting Grace: Thank you and God bless you Marlene. So guys her out in her blogs, social media and website. Don’t forget to grab a copy of her book “Add Mo Ko as Friend”. God bless you as you write for God’s glory!
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