Nine-time Palanca awardee, novelist and short story writer Lakambini Sitoy on Tuesday advised journalism students to start writing anything that comes to their mind, make records of events and persons and start talking in English if they want to learn the craft of writing.
Sitoy, who is now based in Denmark where she teaches English to foreign students, had worked as an editor in various newspapers in the Philippines.
She will start writing a column for The Manila Times before the end of February about life in Europe from a Filipino perspective.
“Write anything that comes out from your mind. Not a diary. Write without thinking for 30 minutes straight. Use your handwriting. Then keep it and read it after one month,” she told students from various universities in Manila at the Lecture Series of The Manila Times College in Intramuros, Manila.
Sitoy, whose novel “Sweet Haven” was first published in French in 2011, said Filipinos have the advantage because they learn English in grade school.
“In Denmark, my students are very intelligent but they struggle to speak in English. In most cases, they fail to communicate effectively. You may speak English in your own accent, but what is important is that you are understood,” she pointed out.
Sitoy urged the students to observe deadlines in their writing projects because time management is important.
Also the author of the novel “Touch” that elicited international reviews, she asked students to start talking in English as this will help them get familiar with a second language.
“You may start talking pleasantries. You will soon discover that you are already conversing, negotiating and discussing. What is important is that you start speaking in English early,” Sitoy said.
Before writing novels, she first penned a string of short stories that she compiled into two books, namely “Mens Rea and Other Stories” in 1999 and “Jungle Planet” in 2006.
Sitoy said her stories reflect what is happening in the world, and she is fond of finding commonalities in the lives of ordinary people, specially women.
“To produce the best, tell stories as close as possible to the truth,” she added.