Chhin Seyha, 20, is incredibly productive for a young writer: He has written 16 books in three years all of which are published, and 10 other books are in draft.
Majoring in Khmer Literature at Royal University of Phnom Penh, the fourth year student is gifted with natural talent and passion for writing which he discovered at the early age of 11 years.
Without further ado, Seyha successfully turned talent and passion into profession in late 2010, naming his first book Educational General Knowledge, written in Khmer language.
Before going professional however Seyha started from scratch. He explains:
“I wanted to become a writer since sixth grade. That time, I would read three books at and summarize the ideas from them on 10 pages. When I was in grade 12, I had my first work published, a collection of documents from class with assistance from my friends and teachers, and knowledge from my mother.”
The promise of fast cash after landing a best-seller and an aura of intellect that surrounds a writer seem tempting but not at all easy to achieve. And there is more to it to the profession of a writer. Seyha believes writers have a duty towards society, accumulating knowledge and having a long lasting impact on the readers.
“I choose to write because I want to be financially independent, to pay the tuition fee and to widen my knowledge and credibility. But I write for society too and try to combine knowledge I found in books with my own and let my readers benefit from it.
And I want raise awareness about the merits of reading because many young people are too lazy to read.”
Seyha’s 16 books mainly cover broad knowledge themes like Khmer literature, culture and foreign countries and they are all published in Khmer language.
Despite criticism on misspellings on the cover and in the text of some books, Seyha also received much positive feedback and encouragement from his readers.
“Many readers, students, directors of secondary schools, and government officials like my writing. They appreciate the knowledge in my books and encourage me to write more, especially about ASEAN.”
Yet the beginnings were hard: When he first tried to sell the rights to his book the buyer took a month to decide and a year to have it printed. Now at least of 2000 copies of each edition are published and distributed nationwide.
This will not make him rich in the near future but he is born a writer and will stay in the field:
“No matter who I become, I will stick to writing and even though it may be difficult I will still do it because ‘giving up’ is a phrase you won’t find in my dictionary.”