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Life imitates art #1: writer in the dark

Jun. 8, 2018
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Everybody starts somewhere.

A lot of us don’t know where to start, and when I started my path of trying to pursue writing as a career, I wasn’t sure whom to turn to. 

I was in ninth grade when I witnessed the tremendous success of Rookie, a teen and young adult-orientated publication that had achieved unimaginable heights of success. It seemed like a glimmer of hope for me, a prime and perfect example of the idea that anyone can do it if their heart is set on it.

I began sending in sample works I had written in my free time to multiple publications, and many of the emails turned into opportunities. One of the opportunities led to my current position as a senior writer at Lithium Magazine, and consequently, Adolescent Content now.

It didn’t matter that I was a girl from East Asia who spoke English as a second language. Being online gives you a voice, a chance to show the world what you are capable of.

More often than not, when my peers hear about my job as a writer, they follow up in asking what I write about. In truth, nobody around me really wants to believe that a teenager is mature enough to write about love, life, or even global issues in an educated manner. However, they were proven wrong after witnessing what my colleagues are capable of. Whenever I show them my colleagues’ work, it typically leaves them in awe.

I write about my own life, things that happen to me and my own opinions about the world around me. It is what I am the most familiar with. And when you write about things that are so close to your heart, you’re allowing your readers to have a piece of you.

I talked to Meshall, an 18-year-old writer for Lithium Magazine, Adolescent Content, Crybaby, and Affinity Magazine. She said, “I enjoy writing personal pieces that people can find themselves in, to show that they’re not alone in a lot of what they go through.” It wasn’t easy for her to end up there—at first, she struggled as well.

“I always had a fear of sharing my writing on my social media. It might have stemmed from the fact that the individuals I had on social media were all the ones I knew in real life. I didn’t want to be judged for the thoughts I had on subjects that a lot of people viewed as taboo… I used to write excerpts from a book I’d never write. As time passed, they began [to] accumulate, and although I wanted to vent and [unapologetically be myself], I always held myself back. One day, a friend [to whom I had] sent a piece pushed me to post an except I had been incredibly proud of. The feeling of satisfaction I felt that day was immeasurable. That was mostly due to the feedback I received from everyone on my Instagram. Posting my writing on social media honestly made me so much more confident in my writing. It was an added bonus when people would tell me what I wrote was inspiring or helpful.”

Like Meshall said, we draw inspiration from our own personal life. It’s initially a struggle to share that with others, especially on social media, but as we take that first step towards confronting our vulnerability, a huge weight is lifted off our shoulders. 

The range of writing does not limit our personal expression. Through poetry, we intertwine our words with abstract ideals that represent a larger sentiment; through fiction, we reflect upon our own flaws and allow characters to make the mistakes or the amends we wish we had; through articles, we weigh in on how our own choices and ideals can affect a situation.

As writers, we aren’t really given a concrete timeline. Sure, a majority of us start our careers in high school newspapers or magazines, but once we enter the real world, we are barred with the glass ceiling of publishing and journalism that has seemingly been dominated and defined by the older generations. Thanks to the rise of teen publications, we’ve been allowed to speak of the truth we believe in and the life lessons we all struggled to learn.

Everybody starts somewhere. 

For us writers, the starting line is within us.