Mia Manasala always wanted to become a writer. At a young age, she discovered her love for mystery novels through her Filipino family but with all the stories she has read, Mia–a Filipino American–felt like she was not seen.
Instead of looking and reading more novels, she decided to write her own, “The reason I started writing is I didn’t see characters or experiences that reflect me. I wanted to see myself on the page.”
Fast forward to today, Mia has fulfilled her lifelong dream and so much more: Arsenic and Adobo, her debut book, was an award-winning title. The sequel, Homicide and Halo-Halo was released in 2021 while the third book to Tita Rosie’s Cozy Mystery Series is coming out this year. It may sound like a fairytale, but these were not served on a silver platter for her–Mia also had to fight her way through it. Just like everyone else.
If you, at some point in your life, have been rejected or you’re currently not in a good place, here are some lessons based on the writer’s personal experiences to help get you through the day and hopefully, encourage you to continue reaching for your dreams.
1. Don’t quit because the next big thing might be waiting just around the corner.
As a Filipino-American, Mia also experienced discrimintation as a writer. She was told numerous times she would not make it as a writer; that nobody would be interested to read her stories. Despite getting rejected for years, Mia refused to give up. But with determination, grit, and a few pageant-murder spin-off ideas, she is now working on the fourth book of her cozy mystery series.
“During my first book and a younger Filipino-American who is writing a traditional mystery, they said that I had no audience. One editor said, which my agent forwarded through email, went so far as to say ‘traditional mystery is for older white women.’ In publishing, they believed I was a bad investment because there was no way to market me. But [I knew I couldn’t] just can’t sit around and wait so after I finished Arsenic and Adobo. When I found a new agent, she managed to sell the book in two weeks which is so rare. So I went from being told I had no audience and nobody would ever want my books to “your book is the exact book we started this imprint for, we can’t wait. We are so excited.”
2. Appreciate the wins in your life.
Being able to fulfill your dream is a spectacle not all people can achieve. But Mia also realized that it does not end there–her dream has become her work and it will go on and on. While Mia is preoccupied on setting new goals for herself, she also stressed that it’s equally important to appreciate your wins in life because ultimately, you deserve it!
“I learned from friends who are also writing series: the challenges of overlapping. I was editing and promoting book one while writing book two. There was never really a downtime, I was always looking at the next thing. It makes it hard to be really in the moment and enjoy what’s happening. Last year was my debut, I finally achieved a lifelong dream. In many ways, I did enjoy so much of it but I also feel like I spent so much of it overwhelmed because even good things can be overwhelming and scary.
I spent so much of it thinking of the next thing, “Okay, I did this. Now, what?” Instead of just being like, “Wow! You managed to accomplish this thing.” Celebrate that. Acknowledge that. Not everyone can do this, not everyone achieves their dream. This year, I’m trying to be better about it. Even though my workload isn’t lighter, I’m giving myself more mental space. Be kinder to myself.”
3. Nudge off the negative vibes and protect your peace.
If there is one more important thing other than submitting manuscripts on time for Mia, it would be protecting her peace. As a reader herself, she knows how not to meddle with her audience’s space to freely voice out their thoughts about her books. If she sees a positive comment or a thought that criticizes the book, Mia tries her best to engage. But if it’s just a negative perception of her work, Mia has the best response: to keep scrolling down.
“Books are so special to me, they have saved me so many times and they’ve been my friend throughout my life. Being able to be that for someone else, it’s something else. But I try [my best] not to intrude on reader spaces. There are some people who tag me negative and mixed reviews but I don’t really engage with them. You can think, feel, say whatever about my book. It’s valid, it’s fine. But I don’t need to see that, I’m just trying to enjoy my pretty pictures on Instagram.”
While rejection might be a hard and bitter pill to swallow, it should not completely hinder you from reaching your dreams. Take it from Mia, as long as you continue to push forward and believe in yourself, you will get there in no time.
Learn more about Mia Manansala on Fully Booked Chats: Mia Manansala via the Fully Booked Facebook Page or Fully Booked Youtube channel.