My Instagrammable Life

I just finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s latest book, “My Not so Perfect Life.”

I have always liked reading Ms. Kinsella’s works (e.g. Undomestic Goddess, Can You Keep a Secret, The Shopaholic Series, to name a few) because the stories are light, funny, and the characters are pretty relatable. Her main characters could very well remind you of your best friend, your sister, or in most cases, yourself. A lot of times I catch myself thinking, “She’s just like me…” or “I could be her.”

My Not so Perfect Life (according to the blurb) is Part-Love Story, Part-Work Drama. One thing I found interesting, though, was how Katie, the female protagonist, portrayed her life on Instagram (living in an exciting city, doing cool stuff with marvelous friends), versus her reality — job issues, financial struggles, simple life, really small apartment.

It got me thinking… Haven’t we all, at some point in our social media obsessed lives, projected an alternate version of our reality?

(I will not spoil the book any further for the sake of my chick lit-loving friends, but it is a good and entertaining read. You won’t be sorry if you grab a copy.)

❤️❤️

Ahh, Instagram.

On any given day, we see something nice… or we go somewhere nice… or we think we look nice… And so we decide to take a photo — click, and then post. Then we add cute, interesting captions. We explain further by adding a number of #hashtags.

Then we wait for a hundred hearts (signifying that our follower friends liked the photo). Sometimes we feel bad when only a few people would “heart” the photo. Of course it hurts when you are not validated. (Personally, I am easy to please. I am happy with 10 likes. Anything beyond that to me is already a blessing — or a miracle.)

When you think about it, how much of our real lives is posted on Instagram? Or maybe the bettter question is… What stories do our IG accounts tell?

❤️

Out of curiosity, I checked MY Instagram account.

If a total stranger will make a story about me based on my IG photos, what will he come up with…

From the 12 latest photos I posted, one will see: My latest selfie (with me all dolled up)… My bruised knees… Dining with my BFF… More selfies… A promo of my book… A collage of old photos with my son… A throwback photo with friends circa ’90s… And still more selfies…

image

Basically from my IG, one will gather that 1) I have a book, 2) I have a son, 3) I was much thinner in the ’90s, and yeah 4) I am a selfie master — and I love myself so much.

My Instagram account pretty much depicts how self-absorbed I am. Yep, narcissism at its finest.

That’s my Instagrammable life. #ialwayswakeuplookinglikethis.

Alternate version or reality? 😉

❤️❤️

When we share photos on Instagram, we allow other people to take a glimpse of our lives.

It is easy to create a perfect, always exciting version of your life. Just carefully pick the photos you will post — Choose the ones that will tell the version you want your followers to see.

I bet our Instagram stories are all exciting.

Don’t be fooled, though. Things are not always as good as they are depicted on IG. That is why it is not wise to judge — nor envy– someone, based on what you see on Instagram.

I also believe that every photo has a backstory… And often times, it’s the backstory that is truly more interesting… and real.

❤️

Example of Perception vs Reality / Alternate Version vs Backstory

latest selfie

image

#selfietime #chilling #memyselfandi

Perception created: She’s so chill… She’s so vain… She’s always made up…

Backstory (Reality): Photo was taken after four (4) hours of sitting through the College graduation rites of our helper. FOUR HOURS. But it was a momentous occasion, a celebration of someone’s educational achievement. I had to keep a smile on my face, even after four hours…

Plus I looked good that day. So, I just had to take a photo…

So, yes, maybe I am quite self-absorbed. Quite. 😉

❤️

What is your Instagram story???

*****

photos are mine 😊

So I got rejected…

 

20-yrs-submit

November 2015

It was around this time last year when I first submitted my Manuscript to a local publisher. I really did not know what to expect then.  I was nervous… I was clueless… and I had no idea whether I was doing the right thing or not. All I knew was that I wanted something to happen.

I wanted to publish a book. My book. A story that I created with characters that I breathed life into. A work that I can call my own, a legacy that I can leave behind.

I did not hear from that publication house. Ever. If not for the notice of receipt of the package that I got from the courier, I wouldn’t have known whether they actually received the manuscript. Up until today, I have absolutely no idea whether the editors from the said publication house have actually read the story.  

I never heard from them.  

I remember waiting a couple of weeks. I told myself that they probably had tons of manuscripts to go over. I let a month pass. I rationalized that it was Christmas time and surely, everybody’s busy with a lot of things.

How long does one have to wait before she comes to terms with rejection?

Come end of December, I was fidgety. I remember having to deal with all sorts of emotions that normally go with rejection.

I was sad, of course. I saw the realization of my dream slipping away. I was embarrassed, I was losing my self-confidence. Was I too bold to send out the manuscript to people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me? I felt fearful and insecure. Maybe they thought my writing wasn’t good enough? Or maybe my writing was really bad??! 

I could have wallowed in self-pity. That was the easiest thing to do. Give up and wallow in self-pity and believe that this was pointless because I was just not good enough

And maybe lock myself in my room for a month and stay depressed. Woe is me!

But I took the other road. I came up with a Plan B. With the prodding of my best cousins, I explored my Plan B… and Plan B worked. I met wonderful people who helped me every step of the way… And the rest is history. My book eventually got published. 

I have blogged about this journey several times and if you follow my blogs, you already know the story.  The point I am getting at now is that going after a goal, a dream, is not always easy.  

Things don’t always happen the way you want them to. 

A lot of times you have to work harder than you thought you should. Most of the time you will get to face rejection… You may even get rejected multiple times. And who likes being rejected? It just makes you feel so small. So unworthy.

Giving up was easier. It takes more strength, requires more courage to try again, to explore other options. Oftentimes, it is very difficult to ignore the demons whispering in your head that you simply are not good enough. Sadly, it is much easier to believe those whispers when you don’t get the affirmation that you hoped for. 

But rejection is not the end of the world. In fact, it could very well be an opening to something else… something better, something that is truly right for you.

So, pick yourself up. Dust yourself if you must. Bruised ego and all, carry on with head held high. You will get there somehow. 

That is, if you don’t stop trying.

***

My Book’s Journey (So Far) in Pictures

The very first print out of the whole manuscript…

I took a selfie to document that moment… Right before sending it out to a publishing company.

20-yrs-manuscript

Denied. Rejected… Ignored?! 

But then like I said, I did not let the dream end there. I went after Plan B.

 And so all these eventually happened…

From the first print… To the first proof… To the first real book with bar code.

And then…

central

Central Books, SM Mega Mall

It’s finally out!!

So this followed…

Book launch at SMX last September.

And now, these…

From LA to Las Vegas to Japan… and very soon in Ohio. 

Friends and family are feeling the love. 

Remember how I document everything with a selfie??

Last week, I posted this…

20yrs-fullybooked

Because that day, I was deliriously happy after receiving truly wonderful news.

Soon. And I mean, very, very soon… Do watch out for this…

20-yrs-fully

Perfect Christmas gift, y’all!

Coming out in December at Fully Booked. 

And it all started with a rejection... 🙂  

*****

Twenty Years in Between… The Love Story of Lizzie and Joseph.  Now available at Central Books. Coming out this December at Fully Booked!  Soon at select National Bookstore and Power Books branches.

Fall in love with Lizzie and Joseph… this is their love story

*****

photos are all mine!!

#loveis…

They say that patience is a virtue… and that the good things in life are worth the wait.

I have been getting antsy these past couple of weeks, waiting for the approval of my book to be displayed and sold at two major local bookstores. The requirements have been met, only a few more legal stuff to be addressed, and we are good to go… 

Waiting is not always fun, though.  At times it can even be excruciating.  But then I also tell myself that there is a reason — and a season — for everything. There are things in life that you simply cannot rush. 

Just a little more… we will get there somehow.

In the meantime, let me leave you with this… 

14914633_10154152925233737_1607676288_n

We were young. We were in love. The world was a happy place… – Lizzie, Chapter 18, p.54

Because love is a wonderful thing… and is worth the wait!  

***

Twenty Years in Between… The Love Story of Lizzie and Joseph

Available now at Central Books, SM Mega Mall Bldg A, 5F and http://www.centralbooks.com.ph online bookstore.

Available SOON at select National Bookstore and Power Books branches

❤ ❤ ❤

***

photo collage is the author’s 🙂

 

 

Falling in Love…

14055652_10153957201963737_433474177_n

All of a sudden, the puzzle pieces seem to fit. You may question, even doubt it, but there is no point in doing so because everything just feels so right.

You just know.

Neither of us really knew exactly when or how it happened. It just did.

We just knew.

— Lizzie, Chapter 13, page 40 ❤

***

**Twenty Years in Between… the Love Story of Lizzie and Joseph. Available at CentralBooks. Grab a copy today! ❤

Storytelling time

north and south

I was a fan!!

Once upon a time…

The year was 1986. I was a sophomore in high school. There was a TV mini-series entitled North and South that I religiously followed.  It was based on a trilogy of novels written by author John Jakes.  I liked the mini-series so much that I “attempted” to write my own version of North and South (which I entitled, uhm, North and South…)

Using my dad’s typewriter, I would spend my nights typing away on blue typewriting paper (don’t ask why it’s blue… it just was blue!).  My version was a love story. It was about an heiress named Elizabeth who fell in love with stable boy Joseph. Okay, I am cringing now…

But hey, I think I was only 14 years old then — so what did I know about love stories?!

Only one friend of mine ever read that story.  Every time I would finish a “Chapter,” I would pass it on to her… and she would beg me to write some more. She was my best fan and worst critic. Well, she was my sole reader, so what did I expect. But she gave me the first push. She gave me reason to believe that my writing was good enough.

I don’t think I got past 5 chapters, though.  I think I ran out of ideas… and most likely I got busy being a teenager that I forgot about the story altogether. But one thing remained, though. I knew then that I loved writing and I loved telling stories.

I also knew that I would want to write – and publish – a book someday. A love story… Maybe a sappy one like my North and South… 🙂

It was a dream. It was a girly goal. 

***

Dreams don’t really die… some are just forgotten.  But they are still there with you, inside you.

When the right time comes and you realize that you still want to go after a long-forgotten dream, even the universe will conspire to help you achieve it.

journey 2

My inspiration

2014. I received handwritten letters from my best friend/cousin from the US.

For some reason, these gave me a storyline to start with and work on.

I told myself I was ready to take on the challenge. Told myself I would write that love story I have long been wishing/dreaming to write. 

And so the journey began…

So, what do writers need when they are to create a masterpiece? Of course I armed myself with the “tools.”

journey 1

i’m more hi-tech now!

My laptop came very handy especially since I preferred to ‘work’ at my office space outside my home…

journey 3

view from my office

And surely, I needed my energy drink…

journey 4

this kept me awake

I was ready. I was excited. I was writing my first book!  I wrote several chapters. I almost felt like a real writer.

Almost.

And then I hit a blank. I didn’t know where the story was going. It didn’t help, too, that my laptop kind of crashed.

***

Angels all around us.

2015. After shelving the project for about a year, I saw the saved drafts of the first several chapters that I wrote… and I found myself smiling while reading. I felt bad for not finishing the story.

journey 5

my bestie from LA

I emailed the finished chapters to my best friend/cousin in the US for her birthday last July.

All she said was — Finish it. Finish the story. Just keep writing.

That gave me the drive to continue. At least I knew I had one loyal reader.

And so I started writing again.  But since my laptop crashed, I had to contend with good old pen and paper this time around. So much for being hi-tech. 

When I hit another moment of anxiety and insecurity — when I started asking myself what the point was in all these, and I was starting to tell myself that I don’t write well enough and surely I don’t think I can actually finish writing a book — another angel intervened…

journey 6

my bestie from here

She read the first part of the draft and demanded that I share with her the rest. 

She also pretty much told me to stop being a drama queen and just continue what I have started. 

Real friends push you when you are just too tired, scared and unsure of yourself. They will not give up on you even when you are ready to give up on yourself. 

***

Divine connections

I continued with my project and finished the manuscript late September of last year. 

A manuscript is not a book until it is printed and published. At least to me, it’s not. Since it was truly just a personal project, I decided to explore the self-publishing option. I researched and inquired…

And then I met this super cool guy (a writer and an artist) who answered all my two hundred questions about self-publishing and who was more than willing to work with me in making a book. He eventually became my book coordinator, my proofreader and editor, as well as my lay out artist. He was my best friend for several months. It didn’t hurt as bad when he edited away (which translates to him chopping off some parts, fixing some lines, etc. etc). The editing took time, we added and changed stuff here and there, yet he was very patient all throughout. I was truly flattered when he said he really liked my work (despite it being chick lit). 

God then sent another angel my way in the form of a really talented artist. I found samples of her work online and they were truly divine! I reached out to ask if she would be ever so nice to design a book cover from me… and she agreed!! I was overjoyed.

I cannot thank these two artists enough. Though I was a total stranger, they entertained my queries — and helped me create something.  

When the time is right, God leads us to the right people… or He leads the right people to us.

***

And so, after two years of creating… and about thirty years of dreaming, here it is…

20 yrs book - copy

realization of a dream

Because it doesn’t hurt to read a sappy love story every once in a while. ❤

***

Available this July at Central Books in SM Megamall, Central Books Lyceum Makati and Central Books Cebu. Also available soon at their online bookstore: http://www.central.com.ph.

Limited copies only 🙂

Twenty Years in Between… the Love Story of Lizzie and Joseph; copyright 2016 Betsy Gacutan- Ochosa.
Work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Heartfelt thanks to Clarissa Ines for the cover design and Adam David for the edits & layout.

 

 “Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.” Prov. 16:3

*****

photo of North and South via google images; all other photos are the author’s.