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Lighten Up! This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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 The day I wrote this, for example, the most popular unpublished fiction piece was about a boy whose father had died.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

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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This article has 43 comments. Post your own!

bennyB said...
Oct. 20, 2010 at 6:23 pm:
I agree with you I hate melancholyic poetry
 
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whatireallythink said...
Sept. 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!

 
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toxic.monkey said...
Jul. 13, 2010 at 2:34 pm:
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 :)
 
ShelbyW. replied...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm :
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!
 
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ArtemisOwlfeather said...
Jun. 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm:
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?
 
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iwanttobeforeveryoung said...
May 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm:
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.
 
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FunXsize3 said...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 7:16 am:
It is hard to write about happy things when our world is filled with sad and depressing things
 
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magic-esi This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm:
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 replied...
Mar. 8, 2010 at 11:35 pm :
A world of debauchery, depravity, and prurience, that's what!
 
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scribblesinthecity said...
Feb. 24, 2010 at 12:26 am:
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 som... (more »)
 
A.Deich replied...
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.
 
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MiyaQuille This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm:
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 ... (more »)
 
alex.d replied...
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.
 
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MiyaQuille This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 21, 2010 at 2:07 pm:
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... (more »)
 
Nyteshade replied...
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.
 
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outoforder2014 said...
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 s... (more »)
 
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AmnyR said...
Nov. 10, 2009 at 11:45 am:
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!
 
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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 27, 2009 at 11:10 am:
I agree! I like to mix it up. Write one funny poem and one sad poem and then a happy poem, not all sad.
 
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NerdInPajamas said...
Oct. 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm:
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".
 
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Sunshineyday said...
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.
 
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