Pajammy Party

Pillow fights, secrets, s'mores and scary stories. Sleeping bag not required.

The making of Paper Cuts

This isn’t a story about a book that was published. This is a story about a dream that came true.

I grew up surrounded by books. They were all over my house, under my pillow, inside my bag, in front of my nose. I could spend days just reading in my room. National Book Store was my favorite place in the world. I could spend hours and hours there just searching for new titles to read. Forget toys, I was happy to receive books for Christmas and my birthday.

Like any other kid, I grew up reading Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Enid Blyton. I wasn’t allowed to read Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High so I got my fill of Nancy Drew, The Babysitters Club, Camp Sunnyside and Sweet Valley Twins. Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine rocked my world. I wished Anastasia Krupnik was real.

But even as a kid, I started wondering why I was always reading about American kids, about homecoming dances or summer camp, things I really couldn’t relate to. And while I appreciate that reading is about living vicariously and getting to experience things you normally wouldn’t through someone else’s words, I also wanted something a little more homegrown.

Once, I read in a Babysitters Club book that Claudia made accessories out of Necco wrappers. What the hell were Neccos? I thought. Since this was before the age of Google, all I could do was wonder. An uncle who was leaving for the US asked me for a wish list and because I was dying of curiosity, I asked him to bring home some Neccos.

He didn’t, he couldn’t find them.

It was at that point, before I turned ten years old, that I realized what I wanted to do – I wanted to write books, books that people in my own country can relate to.

And I wanted to walk into a book store and see my name on the shelves.

I started writing and I never stopped. But I didn’t write books. I wrote poems and essays and stories. Poems that make me sick when I read them now. Essays I still like. Stories where people always die.

In fifth grade, our class gave out paper medals, just cut out from pieces of construction paper with the awards written by hand. No one else took it seriously but I did. Because my medal read “Future Writer.” I glued it to my diary and kept it for years.

I was a freshman in college when the opportunity to write for Inquirer came in the form of a newspaper ad. I answered, I was given my first assignment (a survey on virginity) and that started my love affair with journalism.

At 19, I started closing newspaper pages. I was just a kid in my school uniform in a sea of experienced adults but that didn’t stop me from working my ass off. It’s been 13 years and over a thousand articles but I know I am nowhere near done.

But while I am in love with newspaper work, and while I realize that I am lucky I get to do what I love every day, there was still that dream I couldn’t let go of. I can let go of my hopes of being a lawyer (I did when I switched majors from Political Science to Journalism), I can let go of my desire to be a forensic pathologist (I suck at science, I’ll stick to watching CSI), I can let go of my fantasies of being a teacher (I don’t think I’ll be allowed to cuss in class anyway) but I couldn’t let go of my dreams of writing a book.

When my Aunt Marie (who has written books herself) visited from the US many years back, she asked me when I’d like to have my first book published.

“I’ll have it out by the time I’m 28,” I said confidently, knowing I still had some years left.

“Anytime before 30 is remarkable,” she said.

But 28 came and I still didn’t have a book.

I was almost 29 when it hit me that if I wanted my book out by the time I was 30, I was going to have to get off my ass and start working on it. I was witnessing how turning 30 drove some friends crazy. I didn’t want to dread my 30th birthday and I thought the book would make it something to look forward to.

It was in August of 2009, two months before my 29th birthday, when I first submitted my sample chapters to Anvil.

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I have loved Anvil for years. I have a lot of their books on my shelves – from Jessica Zafra’s Twisted series to Danton Remoto’s Ladlad and Eros Pinoy. I was hoping they would like my manuscript.

Two months later, a week after my 29th birthday, I was asked to submit the entire manuscript.

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I didn’t hear from Anvil for a long time. I started wondering if I should have a plan B.

Fast forward to April 2010. I was in Singapore on vacation and one morning, I woke up to this e-mail:

“Thanks a lot for submitting a sample of your writing to us for possible publication under Anvil Publishing’s trade line. We’re very much interested in your manuscript…”

I couldn’t scream. It was very early and Jaggy was still asleep on the other bed. I had to settle for knocking on the bathroom door where Jill was showering. She opened the door two inches, I told her about the e-mail and we started jumping in excitement – she behind the door, all sudsy and dripping, me on the other side completely jolted awake by that very short e-mail.

Back in Manila days later, I started preparing the hard copy of my manuscript. It was not easy. I was in the middle of printing the 200-page document when the electricity died.

When the lights finally came back on, I continued printing, only to realize that the printer had run out of ink and it was too late to go out and get more.

I was glad that I’m not superstitious because I probably would have freaked out.

The next day, rain poured as friends and I made our way to the Anvil office in Mandaluyong to deliver the manuscript.

Because it was raining so hard, I had to walk through a little flood to get to the Anvil office. I didn’t have an umbrella but I didn’t care. I just made sure I shielded the manuscript from the rain. My feet were soaked and I got wet but it didn’t matter – because my manuscript copies were safe.

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In June, my biggest challenge was coming up with a subtitle. I remember spending a crazy night in a Boracay bar with my brother and my notebook, listing possible subtitles. What ended up as my subtitle wasn’t part of that first list.

Do I doodle? Anvil wanted to know. Yes, but not well. They wanted to see some doodles for possible use in the book so I sent them some.

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Some ended up in the book.

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Some didn’t.

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June 8, I was in Australia to watch Cats and interview the cast. I got a message from Anvil asking if I could make a cover sample. I had previously talked about wanting to use letter cutouts from magazines. A week later, I sent them variations of this:

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But we ended up scrapping this entirely because the concept was too simple.

I also sent a couple of collages that they can use for the cover and back cover.

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I’m happy they were able to use both.

I signed the book contract sometime in July and even then, it still didn’t feel real.

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I spent the next weeks and months working on the book – looking at cover studies, looking at more cover studies, choosing a cover, editing, checking the proofs, rechecking the proofs. And it still didn’t feel real. I was sent the final cover and it still didn’t feel real.

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It started to feel real in December, when Anvil sent the first ten copies of Paper Cuts to me.

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There is something crazy about holding your book for the first time. I wouldn’t compare it to holding your first child (I wouldn’t know), I wouldn’t compare it to sex (Grandma, what are you doing online?). It was pure joy. There was nothing I could do but grin. And resist the urge to start screaming and running around in circles like the giddy little bookworm in me wanted to do.

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Instead, I celebrated with a pint of Chunky Monkey.

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It was days before copies started trickling their way to book store shelves. People kept asking me if the book was out so at one point, I made the attempt to call a National Book Store branch.

“Hello? Meron na kayong stocks ng Paper Cuts?”

“Paper cutter?”

Never mind.

It was two weekends ago when I found out that the book was already available. I was in the kitchen and neck-deep in meatballs and Korean fried chicken and all the other things we had to cook for our Christmas dinner when J‘s sister texted to say she bought copies of the book and wanted them signed.

And because the past days have been crazy, it was only yesterday that I finally saw the books on the shelves of National Book Store in Shangri-La.

I also went to Powerbooks and was told that they had copies but they were all gone. Sold out. Holy crap. That’s crazy. I hope that doesn’t mean only two books were delivered there.

Paper Cuts has been out for a little over a week and I love seeing people post pictures of the book.

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I also love getting messages from people who say they’ve read the book and enjoyed it, including my grandma who said I gave her gas. Now that’s a compliment, thankyouverymuch.

“What’s your book about?” a lot of people have asked.

“Umm, me?”

I don’t think I’ve given anyone a sufficient answer.

It is about me. And my crazy family. And my friends. And my job. And travel. And occasionally getting drunk. And strangers who are really strange.

Paper Cuts isn’t just a book. It’s a dream come true. And maybe one day I can make an American girl go, “What the hell is Akyat-Bahay Gang?”

Paper Cuts is available at National Book Store and Powerbooks.

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55 thoughts on “The making of Paper Cuts

  1. This post makes me wanna cry but I’m wearing mascara. :p Seriously though, I’m so proud of you Pammy! It’s been years since I first stumbled across your blog but I will always be a fan of your writing. You rock๐Ÿ™‚

    • pajammy on said:

      awww ria! thanks so much!๐Ÿ˜€ your copy should reach you soon, just waiting for one friend to ship it to the friend who will ship it to you.. gulo ba?! haha

  2. Awwww. I’m very proud of u sis! Can’t wait to read ur book! :))) xoxoxo

  3. corina m. on said:

    hi, pam! how can i get my copy signed?

    • pajammy on said:

      hi corina! i will schedule something after the holidays๐Ÿ™‚ or we can make arrangements if you are always in the makati area๐Ÿ™‚

  4. pammy! thisissofreakingawesome! can’t wait to get a copy๐Ÿ˜‰
    thank you for inspiring mee to write! miss yoo!

  5. :-Petah on said:

    Am I jealous? YES! Am I envious? HECK, YEAH!! Am I itching to have one? YOU BETCHA!!! Can I repay you in m&m pretzels?

    CONGRATS, again, Pammy!

    • pajammy on said:

      Petah!!! Thank you!! Haha! Your copy is in LA na, James is shipping it to my friend Lala and Lala will ship it to you๐Ÿ˜€

      Oh god, M&M Pretzels.๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Congrats, Pam! When’s our Sparty so I can have my book signed? And now I am an extra in your post seeing my webcam photo with your book here๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Daniel Tayag on said:

    LOL @ face massager pic.

    I wish I was there so I could buy a copy.

  8. Hi Pam, I just wanted to drop by and say hi. I found out about your blog and book from Jenn Besonia’s review. I have to say I love your writing style, and the odd doodle๐Ÿ˜‰. I’m in the UK, so your book is currently inaccessible to me but I’d love to read it one day and shall keep checking Amazon for it๐Ÿ™‚. And many congratulations on a dream come true!

    • pajammy on said:

      Sharon, thanks so much! I hope you get to read the book one day. I will update you, we’re trying to figure out how to get the book to people outside of the Philippines๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Laurene on said:

    Ate Pam! I was curious what this was. Hehe. I managed to find the only copy at the National Bookstore in SM North EDSA. I’m halfway done with it, and I think it’s a fun and engaging read! Congratulations.๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Congrats my darling!! So proud of you! And thrilled for you! :o)

  11. Cheyenne on said:

    Congrats Ms. Pam! Can’t wait to have my own copy. Both Nicole and I are planning to buy one. Do you have a book signing? That would be awesome!๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Pam! Congratulations! You’ve come such a long way! I’m getting a copy soon.๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Pammy!!!

    Ang galing nito! Where can I get a copy? Nagshi-ship ba national or powerbooks sa singapore?

    Miss ko na kayo… Happy Christmas๐Ÿ™‚

    • Patwee!!! Merry Christmas! We miss you too! We’re still figuring out how to cater to orders from abroad… But I have rin other friends waiting for copies in SG.. as soon as someone leaves to go there, I’ll send copies… I’ll keep you posted..

  14. Hi Pam! Congrats!๐Ÿ™‚
    I got a gift in book form.
    http://twitpic.com/3iajap
    Nicey!

  15. Hello, Pam. Congrats on your book! I’m asking my friend to buy it for me. Wala pa ata rito sa SG. Happy holidays!๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Super congrats, Pam!!! Im sooo happy for you! Any chance that your book will reach Chapters / Indigo here in Toronto??? =)))

  17. YAY! Congratulations again, Pam!๐Ÿ™‚ Will go buy a copy when I fly back in Jan. Hehe! Pwede rin pa-autograph? =D Hehe!

  18. hey pam!

    pagkabasa ko nito (link from j’s blog), gusto kong tumawid papuntang national sa gb1 para bumili ng book. mamayang lunch na lang.๐Ÿ™‚

    pwde ba ipa air21 sayo para pasign?๐Ÿ˜› sabi sayo, i’m a fan!

    carina

  19. Hi!!!!! I am such a fan of POLISH POLICE!!!!

    Anyhoo, PLEASE schedule a book signing eventttttt!!!!!!!!! Wanna buy papercuts right nowwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!๐Ÿ™‚

  20. kikaytaray on said:

    i grabbed a copy today as a birthday gift for myself.
    the birthday blues kicked in when i got home.
    i started reading your book 10 minutes ago. i’m all better now.
    that’s reason # 10 =)

  21. You and I had our little back and forth maybe nine years ago. You were then some nocturnal angel/cookiedoughjunkie from UST. We stopped communicating but I never stopped reading and keeping track from a distance. I can’t begin to tell you how happy and proud I am of you. How your work not only has vastly improved but evolved.

    You’ve come a long way, kiddo. You have arrived.

    Sincerely,

    cong

  22. Hi Ms. Pastor, you probably hear this a lot, but, I am a fan ever since your nocturnalangel blogging days! I can’t wait to get hold of your book and how I wish I’d bump into you somewhere so I can also have it signed.๐Ÿ™‚ You miss, are a rockstar.

    • pajammy on said:

      Hi why!

      Thank you so much! I hope you get a copy of the book soon and I hope you enjoy it!๐Ÿ™‚

      And sure, I’d love to sign it! Let’s make it happen!

  23. Finally a book written by you.

    I cant wait to get my copy from the my sister when she gets back from her Philippine vacation.

    I am so happy for you.

  24. Your book is DABOMB.
    I know I must probably be the last person to read Paper Cuts but I just got myself a copy last week while wandering around Natio, and I just finished reading all the stories under Madhouse.
    So far, my favorites are “Supernanny lost the Spelling Bee” and “The Amazing Adventures of Inday” because I can relate. The one where Inday texted you “ATE REPZ PLZ? PLZ PLZ PLZ PLZ?” HAHAHAHA and the one where she was holding the huge toy like some sacred figurine, FTW. I was laughing like a lunatic inside our bathroom that my brother had to bang on the door and tell me to get out because he was already gonna be late for his job interview. Then when I got out, instead of going back to sleep as originally planned, I google-d your name, found your Twitter, then Tim Yap’s article about Papercuts in Philstar.com and voila, here I am typing this comment like an amused sixteen year old fan-girl.
    I hope I could meet you someday and hear you actually narrate those in person! And Inday too, she seems like a really likeable and fun buddy to be with.
    Anyway, I’ll get back to reading your book and post a comment here again after.๐Ÿ™‚ More power to you & congrats on your book!

  25. jijomicaiah on said:

    hello po! im just a fan of yours, i love reading books too, but does not have enough means to buy all those books. i love national bookstore too! and that is how i came across your book, it was soooo good i cant help to buy it.hehe.just wanna say im a fan of yours na just after reading your book..keep rockin!!๐Ÿ˜€

  26. heartfelt writeup, i almost cried on my coffee. i share your sentiment of growing up with books and on dreams of getting published at a young age. then i started questioning myself why i lost track of that dream too. lol. i realize this is an old post but im sure the excitement is the same today. cheers!

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