Everyone has a story to tell. But not everyone has the courage to tell and share their stories. For Ly Dara, the art of writing has become his way to express his feelings and ideas with others, to share his wisdom and to inspire people in the process.
An English major graduate of the University of Puthisastra in 2015, Dara wrote his first book at the age of 23. He became an author at such young age, and he knew right then and there that he was on the right path. He published his first book, Dara Ly Reading Standard.
Four years on, he already has a total of eight published books under his name, most of them dealing with mental health and emotional wellbeing of people.
His literary journey started when he personally witnessed how social problems affected the youth. He saw how peer pressure and norms damaged young people’s perception about themselves and about life, and how these troubles prevented them from becoming who they wanted to be.
“And I wanted to share my own experiences and how I have overcome all those problems myself,” shared Dara.
But despite showing so much dedication to his chosen craft, Dara still has been through many problems and obstacles in his writing.
“One among the many obstacles was self-doubt. I was not really sure and confident enough that people are going to read my books. I just kept questioning myself and reconsidered if I should follow what my heart is telling me or not. Because there aren’t so many people in Cambodia who write books and there is also a stigma that being an author or a writer won’t be good for a living. These things made me pause and re-think about my decisions.
“The second obstacle was a technical problem regarding my way of writing, the publishing process as well as the commercial process. Nonetheless, I learned all of these things along the way. Last but not least is dealing with a lot of changing emotions because some days writing can be boring, some days it can be exciting.”
To complete and publish a book, Dara dedicates himself to writing for about four to five months. The writing stage is both easy and hard as it requires him to stay focus and dig deeper into his own thoughts and feelings so he can write something on his pages. His favourite so far, he said, is his ‘3 Minutes Motivation’, because he wrote the book during a difficult time in his life and he wanted to inspire and motivate others through it.
“I was in a situation where I have to decide between continuing what I am really passionate about or give up on my dream because I’m dealing with personal problems. After much thinking, I decided to continue forward and that decision turned out positive and good. That book taught me that if a person doesn’t give up on his dreams even when the going gets tough, he will always find a solution or a way out. Like they say, if there’s a will, there’s a way.”
What makes Dara’s book more relatable and coherent is the fact that he writes his books based on his personal endeavours – his own hardships, success, problems, solutions, mistakes, ideals and wisdom. He pens the words from his heart to his hand – and the outcome is always a literary magic.
“Being an author has taught me so many thing about life. I have learned how to deal with stress and how to balance my social and professional life. At one point, life can be so contrasting and complicated, but writing my thoughts down somehow became the light in this path I’m taking.”
Dara also recognises the effort and passion that his team exerts in every project he has. “The cooperation between my team – from giving my ideas on what to write to pointing out what I should improve – has been a great help in this journey.”
Now 27, Dara is certain about one thing – he will continue to inspire young Cambodians to win in life and to fulfill their dreams through his motivational books. He also said that he is always willing to extend a helping hand to those who want to know more about writing and publishing their own books.
“You have to believe in yourself that you can do it. But that won’t come easy, though. Having the courage to tell yourself that you can accomplish a certain goal will take a lot of strength.
“I really want to see more Cambodians writing books. I am very open and willing to help them if they’re really passionate about it. You can approach me anywhere or any time or you can message me on Facebook if you have questions about writing, how to publish your book or how to commercialise your book successfully. I will be very happy to share my experiences with anyone.”