Lighten Up! | Teen Ink

Lighten Up! MAG

April 16, 2009
By Alex.D SILVER, Santa Cruz, California
Alex.D SILVER, Santa Cruz, California
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

A quick survey of the work on leaves me feeling down. How melancholy teen writers are. Page after page of angst-filled, angry, whiny drivel! The day I wrote this, for example, the most popular unpublished fiction piece was about a boy whose father had died. The story was ­decent, but this kind of writing is incredibly common. What are your lives like? What causes these teen writers to craft so many stories about depressing subjects like prostitution, murder, and rape?

Whatever happened to the short story writers of the Strand Magazine (to which Arthur Conan Doyle contributed his tales) or the essayists who wrote about dogs, smoking, and the cakes that their wives made? (Humorist James Thurber wrote about all those things. Good stuff.)

Have teen writers simply not read much comedy? If not, then I recommend Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse, James Thurber, George Bernard Shaw, David Sedaris, Stephen Fry, E.B. White (who was well-known for his light-hearted ­essays before he became a children's author), Eric Newby, David Mitchell, Peter Cook, Al Franken, Douglas Adams, Mark Twain (he wrote more than Tom Sawyer), and Rowan Atkinson.

Or must we attribute this dismal trend to that old bastard, teen angst? Do these writers just have so many feelings that they can barely contain themselves and must vomit them onto paper, lest they pop? If that is the case (and I think it must be), then for heaven's sake, mix it up! I say this as much for my sake as a reader as for yours as a writer. Don't spend all of your lovely, fluffy, and ultimately endearing energies ­writing about how messed up the world is or how few people understand you. Write something about “Gordito: The Crime Solving Dog,” or “The Time I Ate Thirty-Nine Pies.” Such stories are bound to tickle at least a few humor glands.

Now, I am not saying that angst has no place in writing. Of course it does, especially on a site like Indeed, angst is a feeling as legitimate as any other. But it is not, as many of you think, a personal pain. Have you read Catcher in the Rye? You probably enjoyed it because it's incredibly easy to relate to the main character. The reason is that Holden Caulfield experiences what every single adolescent does: angst.

I certainly experience angst. Occasionally, I feel down, friendless, and rejected. What do I do when in these funks? I read something by one of the aforementioned authors. Then I suddenly remember that the world is a pretty entertaining place and, regardless of its reason for being, life is pretty all right. And I feel the same feelings but amplified when I write anything humorous.

Not that writing humor is easy, mind you. Oscar Wilde and George Orwell agreed that humor is the most difficult of all prose. But it is also often the most accurate and powerful.

Now, please, write something funny. I really want to read it.

Editor's note: If you too are looking for a laugh, check out the fiction starting on Page 31.

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This article has 46 comments.

A.Deich said...
on Nov. 7 2010 at 12:48 pm

To wade through the swamp of inaccuracies you just posted would require an idiot stick a good deal longer than mine.

How can you say that? First of all, on what grounds can you possibly make a claim like "most people find it more interesting..."? Second, what sort of infantile fallacy is it to call all of comedy, which can be a high and noble art, merely a "comedian pulling a prank"?

MMartin said...
on Nov. 7 2010 at 12:41 pm
MMartin, Henderson, Nevada
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments
The only reason people write the way they do is because most people find it more interesting to read about dramatic pain and suffering then a comedian pulling a prank.

LexiB SILVER said...
on Nov. 3 2010 at 5:17 pm
LexiB SILVER, Tallassee, Alabama
7 articles 0 photos 34 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go."

Joshua 1:9

I agree! Some meloncholy writing is fine and healthy, but why fill our brains with the stuff and let ourselves become depressed? I like a combination of both, not leaning one way twoards one or the other.

zanay BRONZE said...
on Oct. 20 2010 at 11:21 pm
zanay BRONZE, Van Nuys, California
4 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.

I agree with everybody who has posted, really. Too much angst is just depressing and unpleasant for everyone else, but if you've gotta let it out, this is probably the best forum. Healthier than most other options, at least.

Great piece, by the way. Barely any grammatical errors (what a pleasant change!!!), funny, and most of all, true. Thanks, man.

on Oct. 20 2010 at 6:23 pm
bennyB PLATINUM, Memphis, Tennessee
26 articles 0 photos 63 comments
I agree with you I hate melancholyic poetry

on Sep. 28 2010 at 3:04 pm

if you want funny poetry read some Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, or something like that. 

we really do need to lighten up! I think we need a humor section on this website-- an actual section, not just "after page 31". although that is a huge improvement!

ShelbyW. said...
on Jul. 18 2010 at 2:13 pm
ShelbyW., Glen Ridge, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't tell me the sky's the limit when I know there are footprints on the moon."

I WROTE a funny (if not THAT funny) piece and submitted it to this site along with an article on Facebook controversy. The article got posted almost immediately and my humor piece is still "pending approval." I have not read one uplifting thing in my time here so far, I TOTALLY agree with you!

on Jul. 13 2010 at 2:34 pm
toxic.monkey SILVER, Tashkent, Other
6 articles 0 photos 210 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Homo homini lupus"

I think that some people like to reflect their surroundings in their writing, others write by their mood, and some fabricate a mood in their writing that they may or may not be feeling. I can only say that today the world is a pretty grim place and of course culture reflects a society's state of mind. Then we might be a depressed society rather than a sunny happy one. But I might be wrong :)

on Jun. 26 2010 at 2:52 pm
ArtemisOwlfeather SILVER, South Pasadena, California
5 articles 1 photo 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I am evil. I am evil. I am evil. I do not bounce. I am evil."

Everyone has their own writing style and I understand where both groups are coming from. I usually would like to read a funny, lighthearted poem, but I think writing is one of the best possible ways to deal with negative emotions. However, if you're just writing something down to keep from murdering people, why do you feel the need to share it for feedback?

on May. 11 2010 at 9:22 pm
iwanttobeforeveryoung GOLD, Forest Hills, New York
11 articles 2 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
"When the power of lover overcomes the love of power the world will know peace."
-Jimi Hendrix

When we are happy we feel no need to write about it because everything feels right in the world, but when we are sad we write to get it all out.

on Apr. 22 2010 at 7:16 am
FunXsize3 BRONZE, Honey Brook, Pennsylvania
4 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life is like a box of choclates"

It is hard to write about happy things when our world is filled with sad and depressing things

A.Deich said...
on Mar. 8 2010 at 11:35 pm
A world of debauchery, depravity, and prurience, that's what!

on Mar. 7 2010 at 2:06 pm
magic-esi PLATINUM, Hyde Park, New York
27 articles 0 photos 231 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light."

I find that on Teen Ink, top voted and magazine-printed articles are usually about controversial issues. The quality of the writing doesn't seem to matter; so long as it's about some horrible issue. What I really hate is that there'll be two articles about, say, drug abuse, and one is horribly written and the other is very well-written. Guess which one gets top voted?

Ah well, in a world who calls Twilight literature and Justin Bieber music, what can we expect?

A.Deich said...
on Feb. 24 2010 at 2:32 am
Yes, that's the paradox, isn't it. I wanted to say what I said regardless of any inescapable hypocrisies. Furthermore, I fear that had I done as you suggest (which I have) people would not have understood what I wanted to say here because I would not have written what I have written here. Do not expect people to understand every hidden motive behind everything you might do.

on Feb. 24 2010 at 12:26 am
scribblesinthecity BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
4 articles 0 photos 31 comments

Favorite Quote:
'Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.' -- George Santayana

why not write an article yourself about something funny, or happy, or just positive in general? because technically by writing this article instead-which is scrutinizing the depressing articles you see on the website, you too are now writing in a slightly negative tone (though i understand thats probably not what you meant to do, or course). I do agree with some of the points you made. but i think you could've proven your point even more effectively by writing an article that would make someone laugh as they read it, not something that would just end up causing little arguments throughout the comment section (as this one does a little bit).

alex.d said...
on Jan. 28 2010 at 7:42 pm
Well, duh. Of course people are free to write what they want, and it is not my business to quibble with that. What gets my panties in a twist is when there is an overwhelming propensity of depressing, discouraging, and dismal articles. I'm suggesting that people do what I have so irreverently propose in my title.

on Jan. 21 2010 at 2:11 pm
MayaElyashiv PLATINUM, Ramat Hasharon, Other
37 articles 4 photos 193 comments
What I don't think you realize is that many writers use their work as a way to move on. The fact that someone wrote about suicide doesn't necessarily mean they are contemplating killing themselves! They may have had a bad day, and used their writing to let it out. After, they probably had a much easier time getting on with life than if they had just bottled it up inside.

Just a question: if the same person who wrote a story about suicide was in the same position but drew a dark painting, or a painting depicting suicide or some such, would you have had the same reaction?

on Jan. 21 2010 at 2:07 pm
MayaElyashiv PLATINUM, Ramat Hasharon, Other
37 articles 4 photos 193 comments
I completely disagree. For one, I know that I personally write in order to get my feelings out; it's a way for me to vent. When I am happy, I don't want to share my feelings with a dull piece of paper, I want to go out, have fun, interact. When a person is feeling slighted, lonely etc., they probably don't want to interact yet still want to feel as though someone understands them. Hence writing. Hence the large amount of angst on TeenInk .com .
And, just saying, your piece isn't very comedic either. In fact, I think it is one of the most provoking articles I've read on TeenInk; I don't see how someone could read it and not be angry (at whichever side they chose to be against). Look at most of the comments (including mine): they are vehemently defending their side, not enjoying a joke.
If you really want more comedy, try a site made specifically for comedic writing. If you haven't taken that step, you have no right to complain.

on Dec. 19 2009 at 11:10 pm
i know exactly what you mean. now a days its "cool" to be emo. look at stores like hottopic! full of emo/gothic things and emo poetry. when really a lot of these people are normal, theres nothing wrong with their life. the truth is, even if your going through "Unamaginable" pain and heart break the truth is LIFE HAPPENS. if you've been living in such a perfect world that something as small as a fight with your parents ruins your life and makes it so you have to write a story about suicide then you havnt expierienced life yet! everybody gets pimples, everybody embarrasses themselves, losing friends is a normal thing! everybody loses one eventually, unless your very lucky. i understand if you lose a friend, like they died, or a family member, who wouldnt get upset, but you have to move on eventually or you'll lose all meaning for existence. you cant just go through life thinking about it every second. i lost my grandmother who raised me for a little while when i was a kid and i cried for a long time, and i still think about her when i have a dream about tigers, or when i watch old movies but ive moved on. shed a tear once or twice but be happy about what was! they had a wonderful time with you [even if it wasnt a long time] and even in death, they'll never forget you! but if a break up is the end of the world, then wait till you actually grow up and realize that the oh so perfect bf who cheated on you with your bff is just one of many jerks who will put you through who knows what for the rest of your life. but thats not all there is, theres happiness. you do fun things all the freaking time and all your can write about is how 'invisible' you are and how 'you'll never be loved' then you just must not realize how much you have! honestly a phone call gets me riled up! i get excited! getting on the computer makes me happy! i get on facebook and my heart just flutters when i get a friend request, or even a gift on farmville! the thing is, we all have our good and bad times, but theres more to write about than the dark world you think you live in. even in this time, with all the evil in the world, i find happy things to write about. i just turned in an essay about 3 weeks ago that i was so proud of, it was about a baby being born and dad thinking about all the things he's going to teach his new baby girl! it ended with her graduating highschool, and going to college, and how the dad was so proud of his little girl. that is a happy story. so smile :) and open up the curtains and be happy!

AmnyR BRONZE said...
on Nov. 10 2009 at 11:45 am
AmnyR BRONZE, Clifton, Texas
4 articles 0 photos 134 comments

Favorite Quote:
To the world, you may be just one person, but to one person, you may be the whole world. ~unknown

finally, someone said what i'm thinking in an understandable way! i'm sick of the teen angst poems too, when i read, i want to read about more than misunderstaning and depressed messed up relationships!!! great work!