It was a dark and stormy night when I decided to take over the English literature world.
Or rather, when I decided to fess up and really learn English. My parents repeated for years that it would open doors for me and kept trying to get me to complete private courses I found too boring. So I decided to do it my way: by reading fanfiction online about the anime I was obsessed with at the time, all from the comfort of my computer.
I must've read hundreds upon hundreds of fanfics until I realized that a) I wanted to take a stab at telling my own stories, and b) that way I'd really learn the language. Because it's one thing to read, but quite a different experience to write. Nonetheless, I took on the challenge, and a writer was born.
Wattpad, el internacional
With a community so large and spanning all continents, my dark origin story is probably not unique. Chances are, if you're reading this article, English isn't your mother tongue either! And you've come to the right place because on Wattpad you'll find others just like you: readers and other writers who are more than happy to help you grow and learn. All you have to do is start by reading as many stories out of the millions available as you want, start trying to write your own, and engage with your fellow Wattpadders.
And if what you want to accomplish is completely the reverse, your mother tongue is English and you want to try learning a different language, Wattpad can help you in just the same way!
Obvi no es fácil
It will be challenging, for sure, and that's the point! You want to read or write in English because you want to master the language and its storytelling methods. Perhaps you want to reach a wider audience than your own language can offer, or you want to immerse yourself in a different culture altogether. Each of these options comes with their own sets of challenges that you can only surpass with the following skills:
- Perseverance: You'll make a lot of mistakes and unfortunately there may be people who shame you for them. But you have to learn from them and keep reading and/or writing, expand your vocabulary, dig more into the kinds of topics and themes you're interested in, try and try again.
- Patience: It may be frustrating when you feel like you haven't advanced much and still make so many mistakes, but languages are a curious thing and it takes a lot of exposure to them until something finally clicks in your brain. And because cada cabeza es un mundo (or every head is a world), this may take varying lengths of time for each person.
- Kindness: To yourself and to others who are learning too! This is a big challenge that goes beyond memorizing words. Arranging them in the proper order means knowing enough about the cultural and language nuances for your message to be understood.
- Resources: And I don't mean anything you have to pay for. You can use Google Translate, or the free versions of Grammarly and ProWritingAid. Not to mention tapping into the vast writing community at Wattpad, including the many writing tips other writers may share on their profiles.
Pero es tan rewarding
Since all of my stories have Venezuelan leads or love interests, there's a lot of Spanish sprinkled throughout them. After all, when we speak to our family members or other hispanic speaking people, we immediately switch to our mother tongue. I've had so many people get motivated to learn Spanish after reading my books, or who practice their skills while immersing themselves in the stories my characters have to tell. And when I get bilingual readers who finally see themselves represented to a T in my books?? Wow, it makes my entire writing journey worth it from the night I decided to learn English through fanfiction.
La cultura is beautiful
Because showing your culture to others through the written language is so powerful, validating, empowering, and inspiring.
By showing others that you've done it, they start wondering if they can do it too. An exchange of ideas happens. horizons are expanded. We start embracing diversity in literature and actually living it. And you can do this from the comfort of your favorite device right on Wattpad. How amazing is this power you have at your fingertips?