On a particularly boring day in the summer of 2012, having run out of things to read, I decided to visit the good old internet, and googled teen writing publish. Several links appeared, but one happened to instantly catch my eye- 'TeenInk: A teen literary magazine'. Intrigued, I clicked in, completely unaware of the experiences this site would offer me in the upcoming five years.
The page was vibrant with articles and artwork scattered everywhere. There were some which had been handpicked by the editors to be placed on the homepage, some that had made it to their print magazine, and some even had a brilliant shining medal next to them- meaning, in teenink's own language, that they were the "best of the best". This was all a little intimidating, but I decided to submit a poem and a story, anyway.
Then, well, high school happened, and I got lost completely in assignments and papers. It was only when I finally checked my mail, months later, that I found out the story had been rejected, but the poem actually been published in the November issue. I was dumbfounded- of the thousands of submissions they must have been getting, they chose to publish me? I looked around- sure enough, the yellow 'mag-tag' shone right alongside my poem. Extremely pleased, I decided to submit more articles, and started spending a lot more time around the website.
Back then, I had found the TI chat box to be the most interesting of them all. We would have long, amusingly chaotic conversations with teens all around the world. The main thing that made teenink practically my online home, however, was the TI forums, which I still think is one of the best places for teenagers to hang out in the internet. On one hand, there'd be teenagers talking about the newest novel-turned-movie, while on other there were people having enlightening conversations about the subjectivity of truth, or the futility of existence. I quickly made some very dear friends, and spent many years in the threads.
Even with all this happening, a little insecurity had begun to nag at me: why had I not been published again? I'd submitted poems on the agony of life, sorrows of young love, betrayal and suspense, and even a (semi-sarcastic?) love poem to our editors! Yet none seemed to earn me that esteemed yellow mark again. I took this as a challenge, and decided I wouldn't rest till I got published at least one more time.
I have always seen the TI website as one of those Victorian castles we read about in books- the best things aren't always visible on surface, but if we keep looking around, we never know when we might stumble upon a treasure chest. I consider myself quite a miner in this regard, for I found many, many excellent articles written by a group of TI users I call the 'TI Elite'. The topics they wrote about ranged from splitting frappuccino on their crush to being frostbitten on cold starry nights. They showed me how the best writing was often the simplest, and always heartfelt. I learned from them, and started writing about myself- my identity, my heritage, my way of living. Soon enough, articles about my life here in Nepal started getting the 'editor's pick' marks, then the yellow mag-tags, a mention on the front-page of the magazine that I had always dreamed of, and even a contest win. I'm not sure if this made me a better writer (I mean, have you seen the number of unnecessary commas I've used in this article?), but this definitely has made me want to be a better writer, and that, I believe, will come of use in the future.
So here I stand- 57 months, 1 day, 16 hours, 39 minutes and 51 seconds later (says the TI counter), typing a 'farewell' article. I do not quite know how to thank you for all the great adventures I've had on this site. I will solemnly miss the emails telling me a fellow writer just commented on my work, the way the forums would sometimes go berserk and start filtering posts for no reason (boy were those times hard!), or the way we'd click on the 'Get money for colleges!' link- only to find an error message (Your sense of humor, Teen Ink!). Most of all, I will miss the way Teen Ink made me feel like I belonged- and I continue to cherish that in the days to come.
I wish you, both my readers and the TI magazine, all the very best for the future.