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 The day I wrote this, for example, the most popular unpublished fiction piece was about a boy whose father had died.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.

on Oct. 27 2009 at 11:10 am
Phantom_Girl GOLD, Ft. Carson, Colorado
14 articles 0 photos 279 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If it comes out of the lion's will be on the test."
-Mr. Bala

I agree! I like to mix it up. Write one funny poem and one sad poem and then a happy poem, not all sad.

on Oct. 13 2009 at 2:21 pm
ApathyEyes SILVER, Tallahassee, Florida
8 articles 0 photos 7 comments
i thank you a thousand times for mentioning david sedaris. he's my favorite essatist ever. everyone who's reading this pick up his latest book, "When Engulfed In Flames".

Sunshineyday said...
on Oct. 11 2009 at 8:49 pm
unfortunately, some kids think sad writing is always more powerful. so they write these depressing non-rhyming rambling poems for show, and more mature poets know that this is just lazy writing. I find ways to express myself with light, hence my name sunshineyday. An experience poet can work his/her words to make a piece from many vantage points, not just "sad, sad,sad" like Eeyore from winnie the pooh.

on Sep. 24 2009 at 8:19 pm
Brooke_Lynn SILVER, Flanagan, Illinois
7 articles 19 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
1.) "live the life you love, love the life you live" Bob Marley

2.) "get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please" Mark Twain

3.) "i never try to fit in, i was born to stand out" Unknown

ditto! people focus on the negatives wayyyy too much. but i'm guilty of it, too. just look at the poetry that i've written. and i used to think i was positive and up-beat! maybe i sould try to be more of an optimiss...

on Sep. 22 2009 at 1:46 am
LeAzzurri SILVER, Dulles, Virginia
5 articles 5 photos 8 comments
Agree, agree, agree! I think the main thing that is blocking teens from writing humor is we think that the things we find funny, other people will think is stupid-- but that definitely shouldn't stop us.

on Sep. 15 2009 at 11:14 pm
ryangallagher BRONZE, Cincinnati, Ohio
4 articles 2 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- Albert Einstein

I totally agree, writing about depressing things can only feed those depressing flames within yourself and others. I think there should be more light-hearted articles on here