Taking up writing as a hobby might be fine for the younger Cambodians, but very few people would venture into it for a living. Among the few professional writers are Svay Leemeng, who is optimistic despite the low income he earns.
Hailing from Pailin province, Leemeng, 28, pursued his studies in the capital and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law. But his strong interest in scriptwriting spurred him to vie for a two-year scholarship at Cambodian Living Arts (CLA).
Leemeng has produced a number of short films, among them Short-hair Woman, which won a popularity contest and earned him an award from the Legacy Film Lab last year.
During the launch of the CLA’s Arn Chorn-Pond Living Art Scholarship on September 6, at the National Museum, Leemeng shared about his humble beginnings.
“It may have resulted from my interest in novel writing and my participation in the Nou Hach literature competition in 2010, in which my short story titled Everything for Who? won the 3rd place. It encouraged me to pursue this career,” he says.
Leemeng is also a co-writer of the movies Vikalcharet (Crazy) and The Torment of Ghost produced by Meatuchak Productions. He has written 10 short novels, three long novels and five children’s books.
Leemeng is optimistic about the growing demand for scriptwriting, although the market is still relatively small.
“Although we cannot become millionaires through a career in writing, it does not mean there is no market for it. Currently, there are a lot of television stations that are keen to produce short stories, movies and sequels."
“The important thing is that if we love a certain career, we should try to stick on and make the best of it, then you will see its value. In terms of the current market for writers, I think there is no difficulty in making a living nowadays,” he says.
CLA created the Arn Chorn-Pond Living Art Scholarship programme to help students develop skills in youth leadership, financial management and planning.
The scholarship programme provides an opportunity for art students and young artists to tap their potential and talent, with 10 people winning it for next year.