Marcella Purnama’s What I Wish I Had Known: And other Lessons You Learn in Your 20s focuses on her “adulting” experience, and how she manages to stay intact after unexpected path changes towards her future. Marcella, a repeat contributor to Magdalene, has published an excerpt of the book here.
“I took Communication Media and Psychology, majors that neither I nor my family were familiar with. We had only considered Commerce or Business for its practicality,” said Ella, as Marcella preferred to be called, during the book launch on Aug. 5 at Gramedia store in Central Park mall, West Jakarta. The idea to major in Arts was initially pitched by her high school teacher, she said.
“’Why don’t you take Communication Media? I think you’ll be good at it’, my teacher said. I thought it through until I eventually decided to give it a chance,” Ella recalled.
Her parents who have been supportive of her also eventually agreed to the majors she chose.
“Of course they asked me why I didn’t choose Business, but eventually, they understood and supported my decision. I’m sure every parent always wants the best for you when they challenge your decision, but if you can convince them well, they will eventually trust you,” told Ella.
However, the journey itself didn’t turn out as easy. Before she started her college year in the University of Melbourne, she realized how she needed to improve her English language and to develop her writing skill.
“Growing up, I didn’t really enjoy writing and my English wasn’t even good. But when I was about to study abroad, I aimed to improve my English. The 18 year-old me eventually started blogging on a daily basis until I got used to it, until I grew fond of writing,” said Ella.
Ella built her own audience in her Wordpress blog. Many have expressed their enjoyment of reading her daily post; some even said that they would buy Ella’s book if she was to write one. And then one day, she received an email from Gramedia, one of Indonesia’s most prominent publishing houses.
“I was over the moon the day I received the email from Gramedia expressing their interest in publishing my writing,” said Ella.
Also attending the book launch, Anida Nurrahmi, the editor of POP and Ice Cube young adult imprints, said that it was initially her staff who found and enjoyed Ella’s blog posts.
“The thing about Ella’s writing is that its structure is chronological, so other than relatable, they are also comfortable to read,” said Anida.
Magdalene’s Editor-in-Chief, Devi Asmarani, who moderated the book launch discussion, also expressed similar impression after reading the book.
“For me personally, this book is very inspiring for those currently navigating their ways into adulthood period, and it’s certainly helpful when the feeling of self-doubt kicks in,” she added.
When asked about her growing passion to write, Ella said that college life has been helping her too.
“My majors demanded me to write essays and reports, which eventually helped in developing my writing skill,” Ella, who interned for some time as a reporter in an Australian publication, recalled.
She also realized the changes in perspectives she had experience since she was an 18-year-old first-year university student.
“The biggest change I noticed is that I tend to appreciate my family more—for their constant presence and support towards my works,” she added.
She admits that there were difficult times she had to face, including the matter of friendship and first job.
“When I was in Melbourne, there were three groups of friends community: the westerners, the Indonesians, and the Asian. I immediately didn’t click with the westerners because of the different mindset, values, and even, sense of humor. As for Indonesian group, I felt like they were too tightly connected which made me feel uncomfortable. And, eventually, in the Asian group I finally felt comfortable as they were very relaxed and open-minded,” said Ella.
She also faced challenges when she landed her first job working in a company.
“School went smoothly as you only have to deal with assignments. But in my first job, I had to please my manager, my first supervisor, my second supervisor, my colleagues. I’d say that working is basically 30 percent doing the job and 70 percent social relations,” said Ella.
During the Q&A session, Ella was asked how she worked to produce the book. Ella said the most important aspect was discipline.
“I’d say, the key to writing is discipline. If you have problem with that I suggest you to make it a routine every day. For instance, you can set aside two hours a day, from 7-9pm to write. It doesn’t matter if you only end up writing one page or less, as long as you allocate the time regularly,” she added.
Marcella Purnama (left) and Anida Nurrahmi (right) officially launched What I Wish I Had Known and Other Lessions You Learned in Your 20s in Gramedia Central Park
Check out Marcella Purnama’s website and grab her book at nearby Gramedia stores.
Check out Ayunda’s piece on a newly launched poetry book on bipolar disorder.