Live Through This

The Importance of Angsty Art

Sometimes it’s good to be bad.

Illustration by Leanna

Illustration by Leanna

When I was four years old, I started recording stories for my parents, who were living in a place I knew little about except that it was on the “other side” of the world and called New York City and bodies had to travel through clouds to get there. My extended family of grandparents and aunts and uncles sat down with me every week or so to record my stories on tapes that they would stuff into envelopes padded with old newspapers and mail to my parents.

“You’re a born storyteller,” my family told me. “I know,” I said, solemn, serious, blithely confident.

My parents saved these tapes and gave them to me when I was in high school. This is the beginning, I thought to myself when they handed me the box with my Chinese name, Zhang Jia Ning. This is where it all started. This is when I decided—no, knew I would be a writer, when I knew I couldn’t be anything other than a writer.

When I went home for winter break my first year of college, I made myself listen to one of these tapes and had a small, solipsistic cry-fest. It opened with my auntie’s voice, strong and trembling, telling my parents how much we all missed them and how much we hoped they were not struggling too much in New York. She started to tell my parents about the things that were happening in Shanghai, how we were all doing well and looking forward to the warm promises of spring.

“I want to talk,” I said, interrupting my aunt in the middle of her story about my uncle’s new business venture. “I’m going to tell a story, a story, a story…” I repeated until I had silenced everyone else. I spoke aimlessly about a cow, a swallow, some whales, flowers that fall from the sky, and a beach with no fish, water, or sand.

“Do you like it?” I asked in the middle, and again when it was over. “Mama, Papa. I am thinking of you. I’m getting better at telling stories. My teacher praised me. I miss you so much. I think about you every day. Why aren’t you here with me?”

There was more, but I couldn’t finish listening to it.

I was 17 and, for the first time ever, experiencing some pretty serious writer’s block. It was weird, because the year before, when I was still in high school, I felt like I had so much to say. Like, SO MUCH. I filled up several spiral-bound notebooks that year with poetry and little short stories and fragments that were somewhere between straight-up prose and barely disguised diary-style bitching and moaning. I wrote all the time: on the eight-minute bus ride to school, on the eight-minute bus ride home from school, during my classes, during my free periods, during my lunch periods. I wrote instead of figuring out how to socialize with my peers. I wrote instead of figuring out how to talk to my parents. I wrote instead of listening to my baby brother after I had promised him that we could “play all day.” I carried a notebook, or sometimes several notebooks, with me everywhere I went. Everything was a potential poem or story: the way my English teacher picked at the mole next to her nose; the way my father would suddenly start singing the chorus of “Sad Movies” in the middle of a dinner after I complained about having a “sad, miserable life”; the time I saw a child outside of St. Mark’s Bookshop slap his mother on the mouth and how she responded, “You do that again and I’m going to push you in front of a moving bus the next time you cross the street”; the time I went downstairs to get an orange and found my mother sitting, her face tear-streaked, in the dining room, and she said, “I miss my family”; the way I responded with a single “oh” and then ran up the stairs without getting the orange. I truly felt I had been put on this earth to write all of this down, that my writing was, in a way, a gift, and that one day it would be recognized as such!

Though my brain had been storing praise and swelling with greedy self-congratulation for some time, my senior year of high school was when I definitively crossed over to being insufferably cocky. I actually had thoughts like I am such a good writer that it’s kind of embarrassing for everyone else in the class. When my teacher handed back our writing assignments, I’d think, Yes, I know, I know, in all your 10 years of teaching you have never read anything as stunningly beautiful as what I turned in last week. Join the club. A few things had led to this point: a fairly steady stream of compliments from my teachers, the couple of nights when I summoned the ovaries to perform some of my poetry out loud at a few open mics that ended in standing ovations, and a month-long screaming match with my mother over my declaration that there was no way in hell that I would study medicine or law when I got to Stanford, because I was going to be a writer.

“Starve me if you want,” I told her. “But you can’t force me to not write.”

“I can and I will,” she said.


“I never thought you would stoop to child abuse.”


“Why don’t we talk about it later,” my grandmother would often plead.

“No point,” I said. “I’m never changing my mind.”

My notebooks from that year were particularly whiny and hit some screechingly high notes of torture.

This was why I had to be committed to my writing. Writing had to feel like life or death, because if it wasn’t the most important thing in the world to me, why was I staking my relationship with my mom on it?

“I’m fighting for my life,” I wrote in my diary. “That’s what she doesn’t get. Writing is my life. If I can’t write, I can’t live.”

***

And then something happened that pushed me over the edge—I got myself an education. At Stanford, I pretty much announced myself as an English major the day I got there. I raced to fulfill my prerequisites so that I could sign up for a poetry seminar and a fiction seminar in the same quarter. I remember staying up all night to write a 20-page short story for my fiction workshop and then staying up a second consecutive night to finish a poem for my poetry workshop. In the week that followed, I was giddy and buzzing with anticipation of how much mothafucking praise was about to be heaped on me by my teachers and classmates. Someone is probably going to say, “This is literally the best thing I’ve ever read in my life,” I thought to myself the night before class.

And someone did say that, but more people said that the pacing in my story didn’t make sense and that I had failed to characterize the protagonist and that I relied on mystery and withholding to mask the fact that my story lacked depth or any real meaning. My teacher more or less insinuated that my prose was drunk on its own lyricism and completely neglected to tell an actual narrative. One of the workshop critique letters I received from a fellow student said something like “Sorry, I actually had to put your story down at one point, because I was so frustrated and annoyed by it.”

My poetry was apparently even worse. The teacher was notorious for being brutal during workshop, and there was a rumor floating around that a student had once fled the room in tears. That shit’s not happening to me, I told myself. If anyone is gonna be in tears, it’s going to be the other students…FROM BEING SO MOVED BY MY POETRY.

I don’t think I need to say who went home after class in tears. I don’t think I need to spell out who, upon getting back to her dorm room, immediately looked up the word puerile, hoping, hoping, hoping it meant “genius,” or at least “pretty good,” but knowing, knowing, knowing it did not.

My literature classes didn’t help. My professors stressed the importance of approaching a text with detachment, with a critical gaze rather than an emotional one. There wasn’t a place in academia for gushing or ranting. There wasn’t room to simply say, “I loved this and I don’t know why.” One had to use academic jargon. One had to be methodical and thorough. It was like listening to a song and wanting so badly to get up and dance, but instead of dancing, you have to sit there and think about why those sounds made you want to dance and consider the exact mechanics behind the formula of a danceable song. And I didn’t want to do that. I just wanted to dance. I just wanted to read. I just wanted to write. I didn’t want to deconstruct lines of poetry or do a close reading of Faulkner’s usage of semicolons.

The more English classes I took, the less pleasurable it became to read and write. I started to dread it. I started to take fewer risks. I started to become concerned with matters of taste. I started giving a shit what other people thought. It was like becoming a teenager all over again, a time when the more I understood about the world, the more fearful and timid I became. It was like when I wore a white crotchet sweater in sixth grade without a bra and my friends were all like, DAMN, I CAN SEE YOUR NIPPLES, and my awareness of my own body suddenly soared and I went from jumping around the playground without a worry to agonizing over getting dressed in the morning, because once I knew that the way we dress invites scrutiny, I could not forget it. The same with my writing—I couldn’t forget what I was learning, and the more I learned, the less free I felt.

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56 Comments

  • whatever April 11th, 2013 3:13 PM

    this is such a lovely, relatable post. around 99% of the time the ~angsty~ poetry i read back is, like, totes cringe. but at the moment when i write it i just want to get all that *teenage angst* out. at least my english lessons give us a bit more ..freeness (i can’t think of the right word), although sometimes i feel like we should just have a moment of silence for al those lit. teachers who have to put up with our angsty hormonal gushings in creative writing class.

    (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ
    http://teenmoonwitch.blogspot.co.uk/

  • jenaimarley April 11th, 2013 3:24 PM

    OH, Jenny! Everything you write inspires me. Thank you so much for this and for everything!

    Also I am almost positive I’m going to Stanford (just waiting to see if Columbia can match their financial aid) after spending a gap year in China and I’d love to know how you felt/feel about it, especially the more creative/artistic/cultural side!

    • Jenny April 26th, 2013 1:33 AM

      Hi hon!!! Sorry for not replying sooner! I think you would love Stanford? It’s known for being super strong and vibrant for the hard sciences and engineering but I think that just makes it that much sweeter and that much more fulfilling to carve out a creative niche for yourself. I was really happy there and I clung to all of the art and writing and literature there was to be had and to be known!

  • AliceS April 11th, 2013 3:39 PM

    You cannot imagine how much this is important to me. Thanks

    http://toomuchlightburnsthenegative.blogspot.it/

  • moonchild April 11th, 2013 4:28 PM

    I’ve been struggling with this SO MUCH lately. Especially the difference between confidence in writing or a creation and arrogance. (Not to brag (though that is sort of the point)) but my work is complimented fairly often… how do I stop EXPECTING people to be enthralled in me and my writing when (as awful as this sounds) I kind of know that’s the reaction I’m going to get, at least from the people I’m showing it to?

    UGH i was actually drafting one of those “ask rookie” about this EXACT TOPIC. This was amazingly written but I still feel confused…

    Gwen
    http://under-a-bridge.blogspot.com/

  • Sally Apolinsky April 11th, 2013 5:20 PM

    I really loved this article. I thought your honesty was great, and it inspired me not to get distraught by bad comments on my writing papers. :)

  • Olivia April 11th, 2013 5:46 PM

    This made me cry a little. I identify with it so, so much. And I want you to know that, just for a moment, this piece brought back the tumultuous swell of feelings that I, too, miss being able to have.

  • abby111039 April 11th, 2013 6:00 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I struggle with the same writing-fear kind of thing (although as a songwriter, which is a little different), and I thought this article was so honest and helpful.

  • AvisMirabilis April 11th, 2013 6:27 PM

    Not the main purpose of the article (though I did really connect with that), but this validated that day in AP Lit when I dared to say I thought “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka was a literary example of an Emperor’s-new-clothes-esque phenomenon, that perhaps it wasn’t really that great.

  • kolumbia April 11th, 2013 6:46 PM

    This is so relevant to me right now. I write poems constantly, and I’ve been working to get some of them published, and while it’s great to work on something and analyze it to death, it’s also really great to write something shitty and just get it out there. I froze today because I have a crush one someone and I wanted to write a poem about her, but I didn’t write a single word because it felt too cliche, unformed, and teen angsty, like because it’s “just” a teen crush, it didn’t matter. But tonight, I’m going to sit down and not think about what I want to say, I’m just going to think about how I feel and probably write a really terrible poem that I’ll never show to anyone. But at least I will have written it! Jeez, Jenny, just when I think you can’t inspire me any more, you prove me wrong!! xoxo

    • Jenny April 26th, 2013 1:34 AM

      Did ya write it? I hope you wrote all of your heart’s FEELINGZ down <3

  • Narnia April 11th, 2013 6:52 PM

    this is so great! i recently realized this too. i refuse to feel embarrassed or ashamed about anything i write/create as long as it is uncompromised and is truly my own vision. writing stories is about connecting, feeling, expressing and i dont ever want to lose that. i hope to be the peter pan of the literay world or a world less pretentious and more e-mo-tion-allll

  • witheringslytherin April 11th, 2013 7:25 PM

    Firstly, I absolutely LOVE how you write. It is like poetry (go figure) but it’s just so well worded and expressed and yaddiyadah!!
    Also with the whole what others think of your writing thing – I don’t know, I mean to most people that’s how it is! And personally what others think of my writing is always so important. And it can be so disheartening. For example, I had to write two stories to send to university so asked a friend to proof read, and he just had so many suggestions and improvements that it definitely affects who you’re writing for/why. In the end though I guess it is about writing for YOU and your opinion matters the most, because it’s YOUR work. And what I find hard to ~accept~ is that someone else’s opinion is not automatically superior to my own and that mine is valid too. IF THAT EVEN MAKES SENSE.

  • Yazmine April 11th, 2013 7:28 PM

    This was really inspiring; I want to write more now, no matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ it may be. I over analyse things in every facet of my life so I guess I don’t really know what it’s like to be innocent and unaware of critique but I want to relinquish control and try it. I also like the idea of carrying a notebook around and jotting EVERYTHING down x

    http://www.fashionandfringes@blogspot.com.au

  • unicornconnect April 11th, 2013 7:29 PM

    I always just expect praise and heaps of compliments and for people to worship me when they read my writing. It needs to stop, but its hard when heaps of people are so nice to you about your writing. Sometimes my friend shows me poems she writes and I can’t help thinking sometimes “what a load of stupid try hard teenage depressed crap” and then I think, hang on, a lot of my poems are exactly the same as that.

    This was such an interesting article!! THANKYOU:):):) but I have to say now I am scared to study literature and stuff in university, the teachers sound mean.

  • RaineFall April 11th, 2013 7:45 PM

    I think what you touched upon being taught English is one of the main reasons I ended up studying science (which I love, but writing and reading are one of my other passions). I couldn’t cope with being told that I had to write in a certain way and that I had to critique books in a certain way and this was at 16. I think because I dropped out, I became less critical of myself when I actually did sit down and write things. I wrote two novels this year, and the first one I wrote was so bad, but I only realised it was awful after I read it, and it stopped mattering to me. I guess sometimes you just need to let go.

    http://rachaelreviewsall.blogspot.co.uk/

  • bugaleeto April 11th, 2013 8:31 PM

    I am a teenager and im already plagued by self-consciousness

    UGH WHAT IS MY LIFE I AM A LIFELESS SACK

    (ugh)

    (annngggsst)

  • Electra Heart April 11th, 2013 8:40 PM

    This article means so much to me. Thank you Jenny. <3 <3 <3

  • barbroxursox April 11th, 2013 8:44 PM

    Wow. This is just what I needed. The other day, it took me hours, no, DAYS, to write a 3-page essay because I was so self-doubt-y. I ended up rewriting like everything. I’ve never been a dead-set writer, but in the past, I’ve been considered a decent writer at school. But, lawd, writing is getting really stressful for me. Part of it is because I have the most passive-aggressive and awkward teacher to ever exist, but I guess I also need to get rid of my self-restraint.
    Recently, I’ve also noticed that I’ve been refraining from making or deleting everything I write, even silly little comments like this one.

    http://lizard-onawindowpane.tumblr.com

  • TessAnnesley April 11th, 2013 9:15 PM

    Holy Jesus, EVERYTHING Jenny writes is beautiful! I fell in love ages ago with that article about stylish girl gangs of colour in history, and now I can’t wait to read it every time she writes something; she has a way of seeing inside our souls and writing about it in a way that totally makes sense as though she alone can understand the language of the human heart and translate it OK WOW I RAMBLING HOW IRONIC (a terribly written sappy comment on an article about the importance of bad writing) but the point is ILY JENNY <3 <3 <3

    • Jenny April 26th, 2013 1:34 AM

      ILY!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT RAMBLE WAS EVERYTHING!

  • mickeyf19 April 11th, 2013 9:48 PM

    I checked out that link to your poetry…
    ‘the fertility of what you think could one day be
    is just the honest desire to be remembered after you’re dead
    so much that you focus on how to be great
    so much that you focus on how to be new
    so much that you forget to love your father
    so much that you forget to love your mother
    so much that you forget to love your children
    so much that you forget to love your pets’
    aaaand you are my first favorite poet.

    On another note, I can definitely relate to a lot of this. I’ve heard similar things from adults and teachers and strangers about piano or art and other things. It’s a weird feeling when you start to believe them and when that carries into your everyday life… I have to remind myself that while that support is so nice to have, that what’s really important is my own approval. It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one who occasionally reflects on being admired by more than what seems average. :)

  • taste test April 11th, 2013 10:56 PM

    this is an amazing article and I related with so much of it. it kind of came at a bad point for me though because I just signed up for a creative writing class this morning and now I’m thinking maybe I should quietly drop it.

    this is the big reason I will never be a creative writing major, even though writing is so important to me. I want it to stay for me. I want it to stay fun. it’s also the reason I’m questioning whether I should consider an english major despite being totally nerdy about literature. my mom was an english major and for almost a year after she graduated she didn’t read anything. after having to speed-read and analyze so many Important Literary Works in such a short time, she couldn’t associate reading with pleasure anymore.

    I’ve learned to give a certain type of writing to workshops. a few of my characters have a poetic-y voice that workshop people usually like. that doesn’t mean they’ll like the story itself, but it’s something. when I’ve used things in a more conversational voice it hasn’t gone well. it sucks because what I aim for when I write is to get a character’s voice, no matter how weird it is. and the workshops seem to be saying there are only some kinds of voices they want to hear.

    I’m not totally sure how this relates to your article anymore. just thank you so much for writing this. I think it’s something a lot of people need to hear.

  • marymoose April 11th, 2013 11:07 PM

    This is incredible – it makes me feel excited to write something bad, which is a funny feeling! It makes me feel like maybe there is some goodness to be found in my many many messy notebooks. It makes me feel like maybe one day, I will be brave enough to post my strange, un-edited journal entries out into the world.

  • Amy Rose April 11th, 2013 11:38 PM

    Do you know how everything I think you are?

  • Kal April 12th, 2013 12:00 AM

    Jenny this is so wonderful and exactly what I needed right now. I was wondering, what do you do when you find yourself longing to write without structure and without trying to appeal to society? I am leaving high school pretty soon to pursue a career in writing and I am terrified there will come a day and my on-the-spot flow won’t work for me anymore. Like I’ll grow up and it’ll grow into something I don’t want it to be.

    Kal

    zymurgyprocess.com

  • OH NO April 12th, 2013 12:00 AM

    I’m lobbying to have Jenny canonized; she’s never anything but compassionate, intelligent, and exactly spot on.

    But on the other hand: I love literary analysis! When I’m reading really good literary theory, I have the same experience as when I’m reading really beautifully honest fiction (or an article like this): namely, the feeling that someone else, maybe someone living in a different country or a different century, has had the same thoughts and feelings that I have had, and has managed to articulate them in an amazingly elegant and precise way. Reading the parts of this that got down on literary criticism and academic nit-picking sort of made me want to point out the gorgeous critical writing that I’m sure Jenny has already read, like, “But what about this part of S/Z???? What about this part of My Emily Dickinson????”

    It’s not all bad!

    • Jenny April 26th, 2013 1:40 AM

      YES! You are right on about all that. I was only referring to my very specific and narrow and limited experience encountering literary criticism in college, which did not jive with me (did I pick the wrong classes?), as is evident from how much I bashed it! But there is so much beautiful critical writing that can be as or more transcendent than the writing that the criticism is about! I’m reading Kate Zambreno’s Heroines right now and my gawd her critical writing elevates literature like no other.

  • Jasmine April 12th, 2013 3:50 AM

    i love this post but you guys didn’t post the rest of tonight’s articles! ;c

    • Anaheed April 12th, 2013 5:30 AM

      We did post it at 11 — is it not showing up for you?

      • Sunshine April 12th, 2013 10:45 AM

        Not showing up for me either! It says ya’ll haven’t posted yet. :(

  • clocksheep April 12th, 2013 4:39 AM

    JENNY. I am an English major and a “writer” who doesn’t write so much anymore, and I feel all of this way too much. Bookmarked so I can reread it when I inevitably feel confused again about what it is I wanted so badly to convey in my writing in the first place. Thank you.

  • ivoire April 12th, 2013 7:49 AM

    this is me! jenny you are me!
    sometimes i think, damn i’m made for writing! and i write down all these embarrassingly hormone fueled poems and writing thinking they’re masterpieces. and then there’s those times where im suddenly completely conscious of the way i write, and not necessarily what im writing.
    recently i’ve also been thinking about how sick i am of perfectly structured, dreamy, pretty pieces of writing or poems and i’ve been lusting after writing that is raw and ugly and just in shambles idk.

  • Tara A. April 12th, 2013 8:49 AM

    This article was so relevant- I loved it so much! Especially the part about confidence in writing vs. arrogance- I know that I often do the same thing, even if I don’t particularly want to.

    As for what you said about beginning to dread reading and writing, I haven’t gone through the same thing myself but one of my English teachers says that after she took a lit course in college, she couldn’t bear to read anymore, thanks to overanalysis of each and every text that they read.

    All in all, this was an amazing article. It was very intelligently and well-written xx

    https://www.unlockingpandorasbox.blogspot.com

  • Alienor April 12th, 2013 10:09 AM

    THIS IS AWESOMEEE

  • Sunshine April 12th, 2013 10:43 AM

    You have no idea how beautiful this article is. GAH. It’s like you wrapped up all my insecurities and worst fears in regards to my writing and you bundled it up into one single post. This is so freaking relatable! I’m always terrified that my writing comes off as pretentious. I’ve been showered in compliments and, well, as my ever-honest and blunt boyfriend puts it “You’re really good at a FEW things in your writing, so good, that your writing seems brilliant at first glance…but that’s before you realize that you’re really crappy at character development and you never actually seek to improve your writing, you just keep doing what you do well and there’s a void there.” The thing is, I’m fantastic at capturing tiny details, and I write freaking good dialouge, but other than that, my writing sucks. But, see, it doesn’t APPEAR to suck, it appears awesome, until you scratch the surface.

    BUT OHMYGRACIOUS. I can so relate.

  • mimsydeux April 12th, 2013 11:02 AM

    Excellent article! One small gripe: “I started to take less risks” should actually be “I started to take FEWER risks” ~~because risks can be counted. See more at: http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/less-or-fewer

    • Phoebe April 12th, 2013 12:26 PM

      Excellent catch! Thank you.

  • LeavesThatAreGreen April 12th, 2013 12:03 PM

    Oh, this is so important. Thank you. I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for years now. Reading my old stories and poems makes me cry, I really miss how easy it was then.

  • victorianera April 12th, 2013 12:27 PM

    As a child, I loved to write. I would write stories, print them and illustrate my “books”. My writer’s block has been going on for a few years now, and you pointed out all of the reasons in this post. It was like reading my own mind, seriously.
    I’ve been trying to get back to writing, and the most difficult thing is not judging the words I put down on the paper. They’re never good enough, but I’m trying not to care about the comparisons and keep writing anyways.. Not an easy job, but I really want to go back to writing like I did when I was a child! Realizing you truly are your worst enemy can be very enlightening. =)
    Thank you so much for this, Jenny!

  • speechbubble April 12th, 2013 2:28 PM

    I’m only in seventh grade and I feel that way a lot of the time. I just decided recently to write for myself again. Finally in on rookie’s telepathic powers! totes needed this

  • PJ Barker April 12th, 2013 5:50 PM

    you fucking go, jenny!! this rocks.

  • Isabelle97 April 13th, 2013 9:40 AM

    Hell yeah. I’ve hated being taught english this year, despite the fact that the multitudes of stories I read when I was younger have shaped my whole personality and future. I think analysing other people’s work to learn how to produce your own is over rated. And if you’re not encouraged to form your own opinions about “good” work, how are you supposed to figure out your own style based on what you love?

  • TheAwesomePossum April 13th, 2013 7:14 PM

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I’d had to do a poetry portfolio for my English class this year, which included 4 of my own poems, 4 analyzations of my classmates’ work, and 4 critiques of relatively famous published poems. This project, which should have taken me a day at most, ended up taking me 3 days to complete. I had to take Monday off to work on it because it was not yet finished and I would’ve gotten an F if I didn’t turn the assignment in that day. I thought that literally everything I wrote was absolute crap, and would delete my words the second after I wrote them.

    Thank you for writing this. This resonated with me quite a bit.

  • Elle April 13th, 2013 7:26 PM

    You are my favorite writer on rookie. Everything you write is beautiful.

  • marie-fantomette April 14th, 2013 7:38 AM

    This is great. I relate to so much of what you say here. I like that you don’t feel compelled to dismiss academism, that you do not claim it is an either/or kind of choice. And I would be so interested to read an article about how to start writing well by canon standards while not losing touch with that pre-theoretical joy of writing. I sooo want to think that this is possible.

  • reckless-serenade April 14th, 2013 4:33 PM

    Such a good piece!

  • April 14th, 2013 7:19 PM

    Jenny i almost cried with this, thanks for share it. I hope i can read your poems soon.

  • Hesty April 15th, 2013 4:03 AM

    Jenny, your writing is hypnotic.

  • Lady Celia April 19th, 2013 1:53 AM

    I have had the experience so many times of just loving and being moved by a piece of art or a movie or a song, and when someone asks me why I like it, I feel unintelligent when I can’t respond in a coherent way. Thanks for validating that feeling of not wanting to analyze in this article – it was something I needed to hear.

    (Also, I usually over-think my comments online and end up not posting them. I’m just going to post this one. :) )

    • Jenny April 26th, 2013 1:41 AM

      I’m so glad you did! Spew and be visible and be heard and be proud of all your thoughts, fully half or barely-formed–they are all worthy!

  • Jenny April 26th, 2013 1:41 AM

    EVERYONE KEEP WRITING KEEP WRITING <3

  • Rosie Lord April 27th, 2013 11:06 AM

    This is one of the most touching (and genius) things I have read in a long while. I’ve also always know that I’m going to be a writer, but I’ve always been afraid of all the things professional authors need to think about all the time: is my work “good” enough, blah blah blah, and it’s stopped me from writing altogether lately. I’m so afraid that when writing becomes my actual job, it’ll become so technical that I’ll start to hate the one thing I’ve ever really loved in life. All my life, people like my dad, who went to Harvard and thinks he knows everything, have criticized everything I write based on some “rules” they learned that were made up by some stuck-up old white men who probably didn’t even have emotions. When you’re constantly bombarded with how your stories don’t do this and that and are “wrong,” it’s easy to forget why you write in the first place, which is to tell the stories that need to be told.
    Everything you said here, about not being afraid, it all makes so much sense and I think that this is advice that everyone should follow.
    Thank you so much for writing this. It gives me courage, and possibly faith in the human race. The world needs more writers like you.

  • May 15th, 2013 2:39 PM

    Yep. This article is something I have experienced in my life. I have felt like my poetry, my drawings, my writing is not good. I guess this article is stating that you should do what you love, but you should also give yourself a break once in a while. I keep a journal full of nutty songs, dark poetry, and a folder full of drawings. (I always seem to start a story and never finish it) But, nevertheless, thank you for this wonderful advice. (You have persuaded me to finish the stories that I haven’t started!)

  • swegan July 22nd, 2013 10:14 PM

    Wow, I really love this article. I know what you mean about writing stories that maybe aren’t that great but it doesn’t really matter- as a kid I wrote these stories about a girl named Sarah (after my favourite babysitter) who had all kinds of adventures, from concocting a potion to trick a robber to making a giant cookie to defeating the infamous “Buffalo Jones.” I go back to read them sometimes- there’s hordes of plot holes, I don’t use very good writing conventions, and there’s lots of unexplained trails, but they’re just so much FUN to read and I crack up every time I read one. (“Sarah knew her house might get robbed soon” like SARAH IS 8 HOW DOES SHE KNOW THIS or she has a party and her friends accidentally stay for like 827 years BY ACCIDENT).
    I miss writing that way.

    Just wow I love this article. Teenage angst is great and highly underrated.

  • FatedToPretend November 6th, 2013 7:40 PM

    Like, even though this is a few months old, I just wanted to say how amazing this whole post is. Literallyit’s like my thoughts on all this lept out of my head and spilled onto my screen, because I constantly struggle with wanting the things I write to be perfect, and I haven’t even made it to college yet. Thanks for creating such a perfect thing :)