The Critic This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   The Critic



by S. O.,

Melrose, MA



That's my heart you hold in your hands.

My dream - my Masterpiece - on that white-lined paper. All that I hope for and wish for are contained on that stark, innocent sheet. Please, spare my writing.

You shake your head as you read it. I wrote it for you - for your approval - but you don't approve.

No, there are mistakes. This is good, you say, but it could be better. This word, this sentence, it is wrong. Wrong. Your red marker sullies the paper, over the words that express my soul. This paragraph: wrong order. Makes no sense. This word: in the wrong place. What were you trying to convey? you ask. You don't understand. Red marks across my words, my thoughts, my soul. Your red pen imprisons me.

If it is rewritten, it will be better, you say. Change this, and this, and that also, and it will be acceptable. I will put a letter at the top in red marker, and you may bring it home to your parents. You can do better than this, you say.

I do not want to do better, if better means changing my masterpiece. It is broken, a dream shattered. Take it back, you may keep it. I might write another one, but if I do, no one shall see it. Not you, not my parents, no one. I will write it on innocent white paper, then burn it, because it is better destroyed than imprisoned by your red marker. I don't care if it is wrong, because it is me, it is what I want to say, what I feel.

Later, I will write like you want me to: stiffly, correctly, grammatically. I'll write what you want to read. But it won't be mine, it won't be me. Never again will my writing be criticized, because it will never again be read. Only your writing, your thoughts, through my hands, my pen. And you will put letters at the top of my papers with your red marker, but you will not put marks on the writing because it will be your writing. And you will smile and say, "How well you write now! See how I've taught you to write!" But it won't be my writing, it will be yours.

My pen is broken, my ink run out. I've learned my lesson from you, and I'll never write what I feel again.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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