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 TeenInk.com 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 The day I wrote this, for example, the most popular unpublished fiction piece was about a boy whose father had died.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 TeenInk.com. 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. 23 2015 at 8:58 am
LittleRedDeliriousPrince SILVER, Parma Heights, Ohio
8 articles 0 photos 104 comments
The first six words of this comment became my favorite quote, literally.

on Feb. 18 2015 at 11:14 am
Ray--yo PLATINUM, Kathmandu, Other
43 articles 2 photos 581 comments

Favorite Quote:
God Makes No Mistakes. (Gaga?)
"I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." -Liesel Meminger via Markus Zusac, "The Book Thief"

Pain often induces the best of writing, and although many of the articles we read on teen ink are sad, most are heartfelt and honestly inspired from real life pains. I wouldn't want people to stop writing about such issues, specially if they're using writing as a way to pour out the pain. We readers can always search for pieces that we enjoy if we aren't happy about the ones on the front page.

talhaak GOLD said...
on Apr. 18 2014 at 10:44 am
talhaak GOLD, Lahore, Other
13 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” - Maya Angelou

Your absolutely right. In fact, I myself was thinking of a sad-ish story to write but your article has inspired me to write something lighter. Keep up the good work man.

erinw--Jovin said...
on Apr. 22 2012 at 4:46 pm
LOVE this article! I didn't even fully realize how negative most articles are until you mentioned it. thank you for posting this i think it was definitely needed!

on Dec. 6 2011 at 2:22 am
Missy312 BRONZE, San Francisco, California
2 articles 1 photo 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together make me.
-- Charles Dickens

Yesssssssss, light-hearted writing. Better yet, Oscar Wilde because he's Oscar Wilde. 

Anyone looking for a humorous work -- Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" is fantastic, ridiculously funny, and just plain fun!


on Aug. 24 2011 at 6:41 am
RumMonkey BRONZE, Sunny Side Somewhere, Other
4 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I dream I'm on the surface of my own life, watching it unfold."

Well I'm glad that you are able to lead a happy, non-melancholic life, not every other writer here is as fortunate to be as carefree as you are. I'm not saying that every writer here has had a really horrible life, but how can one write a humorous article just so other writers won't feel sad? I write melancholic, depressing work, yes, but it is realistic. And maybe it is this genre of work that is often top-rated because everybody does go through a rough patch in their lives, but not everybody has experienced stories about happy families or optimistic teen life. So maybe I won't post here anymore but then, what is the purpose of shunning teenagers who have to deal with so much more than you?

Nyteshade said...
on May. 6 2011 at 10:01 pm
I agree I have bunches of poems that some could say are dark, but the reason I write them down is because if i keep my emotions bottled up I don't know what I'd do.

Fate98 GOLD said...
on Apr. 14 2011 at 1:10 pm
Fate98 GOLD, Glasgow, Other
11 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life isn’t about how popular you are… What girl or boy you are dating or who you know. Life is about always being true to who you are or what you believe in. Never let anyone convince you that their way is better than your way. In the end all we have is our hearts.. and our minds. This is the reason we sing.. this is the reason we cry… this is why we live." - Andy six"

You are one of the most motavaiting, uplifting writers on this. Your so right. i could be writting about so many things that have nothing to do with upsetting subjects you read about. And i will write about those funny, weird and random things :-)

Tobias BRONZE said...
on Feb. 4 2011 at 5:51 am
Tobias BRONZE, Tulsa, Oklahoma
3 articles 1 photo 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I decide who offends me."- Klaus Kinski

Sorry, ingore the last part, I think I might have srolled down and saw one of your conversations lol, sorry, I'm stupid sometimes.

Tobias BRONZE said...
on Feb. 4 2011 at 5:48 am
Tobias BRONZE, Tulsa, Oklahoma
3 articles 1 photo 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I decide who offends me."- Klaus Kinski

This article is good, well writen and honestly I think I waiting for one to come around, one that's like this. Personally I write drama most of the time, only because for me it's easier, but I've been looking for some kind of pep talk to get me to write a humor article. And you my friend did the trick.

P.S. I like the point you made about how comedy prospered alot in the forties, fifties and sixties war time.


on Jan. 16 2011 at 10:23 am
alicen1ndrland GOLD, Bethesda, Maryland
10 articles 1 photo 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
“The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you.”
~Oscar Wilde
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
~William Butler Yeats

The reason that I personally post mostly "melancholy" stuff is that I write to channel and alleviate emotions. Though I write happy stuff too, rarely is it as personal, emotional, or good as the things I write when my emotions are more intense. Who wants to publish anything but their best work? Of course I only speak for myself. But I feel like some of the teens who write might possibly feel the same way.

on Dec. 25 2010 at 11:04 pm
cyanidesun BRONZE, Atascadero, California
1 article 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block. -Paul Gauguin

I wouldn't say that a serious or dark type of article on Teenink is directly attributed to "teenage angst", it's simply that sadness or fear is naturally a human's most potent emotion and like you said, true humor is far more difficult to write. The reality is that very few people would ever desire to read  “Gordito: The Crime Solving Dog,” or “The Time I Ate Thirty-Nine Pies.” because as I'm sure you've noticed, the most celebrated novels are popular for the emotional undercurrent in them and that they use humor to improve the story, but not as their base for emotional development.

on Dec. 25 2010 at 7:18 pm
black-sapphire BRONZE, Bismarck, North Dakota
1 article 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'm in a fleshy tomb, buried up above the ground.
It's no use, why should I hold on?"
-Goodbye (I'm Sorry) by Jamestown Story

i dont quite agree..everyone expresses themselves differently, and the emotions that come through with their writing are different all through out. Sure, there may be some pretty deep stuff on here but theres also light stuff...maybe your not looking in the right places? Besides the darker stuff usually gets people thinking, and ive noticed that a lot of writers think so they need to read stuff that gives them thoughts...i dont know, thats just my opinion..

A.Deich said...
on Dec. 4 2010 at 10:42 pm

I'm not asking why there are so many sad things being written; that is a complicated answer.  The above article says that given a sea of sad stuff, we are more than ever indebted to write uplifting stuff.

And don't think that what you've said gives writers an excuse to write depressingly, either!  Comedy prospered in the height of war in the forties, sixties, or seventies, and I see no reason it can't prosper today.


on Dec. 4 2010 at 9:48 pm
DawnMarie BRONZE, Milton, Florida
2 articles 0 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
a bird doesn't sing because it has an answer,
it sings because it has a song. - lou holtz

Not all of the stories on here are depressing, though the majority might be. Writers just like to write about what's going on in the world around them, and well, the world isn't too comedy-filled right now, hate to break it to you. But it's true. 

MMartin said...
on Nov. 8 2010 at 8:12 pm
MMartin, Henderson, Nevada
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments
No offense but I dont think comedy is as perferred as drama

A.Deich said...
on Nov. 7 2010 at 7:27 pm
Of course some people prefer drama.  I never said they don't.  But saying that "some [or most] people enjoy drama over comedy" is as stupid as saying some people enjoy comedy over drama.  Both are huge genres and the enjoyment of either depends entirely on the quality of the writing.  I do not mean to say in the essay above that emotional or dramatic writing is in any way inferior.

MMartin said...
on Nov. 7 2010 at 7:20 pm
MMartin, Henderson, Nevada
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments
Exactly some people find it more interesting to read about drama.

A.Deich said...
on Nov. 7 2010 at 7:12 pm
That question is too generic to be meaningful.  Of course something which could be classified as "drama" can be more entertaining to read than something comical.  But it is not by virtue of its genre that it would be so.  Furthermore, why cannot the two coexist?  Indeed they can and do, and dramatic comedies can be perfectly charming, lovely and adorable.

MMartin said...
on Nov. 7 2010 at 7:08 pm
MMartin, Henderson, Nevada
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments
Do you think that something dramatic is more interesting than something funny???


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