The first time i've written for a long time | Teen Ink

The first time i've written for a long time

November 1, 2008
By Rachell Li SILVER, Sydney, Other
Rachell Li SILVER, Sydney, Other
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

As soon as you write something down, it is yours forever. And, if you wanted to, you could show someone else, so they could keep it too. But really, it is yours forever. If anyone ever wants to take it away from you, all you need to do is remember and to remind them that, it is yours forever.

When I was younger, around ten, when I still believed that there was a chance of doing what I wanted whenever I wanted for an entire lifetime, I wanted to be an author. It seemed liberating in a strange way, like somehow one person could tell another a wonderful story that was inspiring, humorous and sorrow stricken but not know. How could you affect someone that much and not know?

So, I wrote my own stories. They were short and they were terrible. I never showed them to anyone because I was not proud of them. I thought they were terrible. But, I loved writing them all the same. I didn’t know too many words and the ones that I did know were spelt incorrectly. I was and will always be a terrible speller. So I wrote my short fault ridden books and told no one. All I told them was that I wanted to be an author. The only story I ever wrote and shared was about a dog I did not know, did not care about and did not invent. His name was Fly and I thought he was good enough because I had seen him on TV. I didn’t even change his name.

Six years later and I share my stories. They are ones about boys with eating disorders, girls who follow strangers and kids that know more than their parents. Excuse me, but I have a mould to break. Sometimes my teacher says, ‘Rachell, this is really not what we are looking for, are you sure you understood the question?’ I shake my head but I actually did. So she smiles and is willing give me another chance. I take that chance but I hand in a piece of paper next time. There is nothing of me on it.

Oscar Wilde is my favourite writer and I have all his books, all his poems and all his plays. I haven’t read all of them and I think I really need to. But I still don’t, because I am scared I will not like him as much after. I have read ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ though. I made it out to be better than it actually was because I saw a review in the paper and it got four stars. However, there is one thing I remember about that story, and it is when the painter, Basil felt that he could not sell his painting, nor could he let it hang in a gallery, because he felt that he had simply put too much of himself in it.

It wasn’t self-consciousness. If that were the problem, he would not paint as well as he does. Painters are brave because they know that anyone can paint and yet they do it. This is how I see writers. Anyone can write. They impress no one, maybe except themselves. Yet they do it. As a ten year old, I did not feel the need to impress anyone, so I wrote for myself. I could not show anyone my stories because I knew that they were small pieces of me. The stories were about boys named Jack who played football and sheep who lost their mothers. My name is not Jack, I have never enjoyed playing or watching football and I am certainly not a sheep. Yet, they were me.

Rejection wasn’t an issue. I was too young to know that people are always polite and too old to think that I was always right. I was reluctant to share because I only had so much in me, I couldn’t afford to lose it to anyone, not even my mother or father, or anyone who would not understand.

Now I write for numbers. Hopefully numbers that will ensure an A. If the numbers are not as high as I would like them to be, which they often are, my spirit does not suffer, I am just disappointed. I do not feel sick because of the pointlessness of the exercise. I am sick because I am failing English.

Of course I do not want to fail so I write as many words as they ask me and I hand them in with no problems. In the very beginning I had some reservations, but now it comes easily, naturally, on a weekly basis. On the piece of paper is not something I wrote with my hands, it is constructed with a ticking machine, by a machine.

For school I wrote a story about how I felt and my teacher gave a worksheet on structure. She said that structure was important and that there needs to be certain sequences, descriptions and lots of showing-not-telling. I knew all of this because I listen in class so I will not fail English. But I was weary. I never thought life had anything to do with a set sequence, I never felt the need to tell someone about the sunsets and the dirt roads because I thought that surely they knew. Had they not opened their eyes on a new morning and had they never walked a trodden path? I had no intention of showing them anything because they would never understand, understand that I have something to say and they are going to ignore it. I had no faith in anyone else and I am tired and selfish.

In short, I was a terrible writer. But, I wrote for myself. The stories were real and the words were me. It amazed me whenever I looked down the page and I understood what they meant and I hoped so dearly that others would too. But, I learnt that they did not want to understand, they wanted requirements met and a showcase of several different sentence structures. They wanted flair and sophistication. I just wanted people to understand that I am tired, but I am true.

Someone I admire went through art school and said that he had lost all desire to create any art. When I write a story, I do it because I am instructed and because I am not all that bad after all if I just follow orders. This year, I wrote a story about a ‘making choices’ and I was sure to include a character description, vivid imagery and to use words that not even I understood. I got an A and the teacher was glad I was making an effort.

I write because I have to and no more. This scares me. My own words are no longer part of me. We do not talk. We never fight. And I feel we understand each other less and less. They are not mine; they are my English teacher’s.

But I am old enough to know that I do not want to abandon this because it would mean abandoning not just a little sliver, but a whole slice of myself. I cannot afford to lose so much after everything else because there will be nothing left and one day I will wake up and feel as if I am only doing things because I have to. I will never be uncomfortable, because no one will ever see me and I am just another girl who succeeds but without a mind and without any intention otherwise. I never wanted that.

Oh. By the way, today it rained and the soft, soothing drops of sky are once again beginning to fall. I know this because though my heavy velvet curtains are drawn, I can hear the familiar echoes of water sliding down the foggy windowpane in no particular hurry. I cannot see them, but I can imagine the trails that the leave, like the trails of the buzzing insects in the trees. If I stop long enough and breathe in slowly, I can sense the rich aroma of the worms doing their job and turning earth. I have always had a keen sense of hearing and smell. My hair is an unforgiving melancholy brown.

The author's comments:
I really do love my English teachers, i do. I just wish i understood that school and life are different. But don't worry, she has told me that now. She told everyone.

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This article has 360 comments.

on Jan. 5 2009 at 4:18 pm
hi rachell, i really liked your article. i can really relate to them. i especially liked the last paragraph; beautifully written. an amazing read!

Cassie said...
on Jan. 2 2009 at 5:17 pm
I absolutely enjoyed reading this, and couldn't agree more. In all my previous English classes, I was taught to write by rote, by formula, until I became so seperated from my own voice and words that writing became disorienting for me, if I wanted to write for myself or even class. I was conflicted between what I had been taught and what I felt I needed to write.

Happily now, the class I'm in right now, is almost entirely free form with how we approach our pieces, and I'm learning to find my own voice again.

Lovely piece, was a joy to read. I especially felt that the last paragraph was powerful - really brought everything to point.

Also - I'm having the same problem picking up my Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. :]

Kubick said...
on Dec. 30 2008 at 5:27 pm

Writing is not doing whatever you want and throwing your thoughts onto a page, but learning how to create something beautiful within the structure-- that way, when you break it, it is that much more meaningful.

dmcnn said...
on Dec. 24 2008 at 2:29 am
Simply amazing.

Madeline L said...
on Dec. 24 2008 at 12:07 am
At first when I began to read this, I thought, this is horrible, it has bad structure, bad style, it goes in circles. Then I opened my eyes and actually read what you were saying, and I can relate to what you're going through. All through life I wrote because I had to. I wrote for grades, for A's. But in seventh grade, I got an english teacher that opened my eyes, made me remember that writing can't be taught, that writing is a way to express yourself and no one can take that away. I listened then, I began writing short stories. But I too kept them to myself: I was scared that someone would take my fantasy worlds and crush them with criticism. I don't really know why I chose to give feedback, but I just want to say that I totally get what you were going through, and didn't know others went through that too.

on Dec. 23 2008 at 5:42 am
This is an amazing piece!

I relate completely.

I hate the "formula writing" they force down our throats at school so we can pass that standardized test. They suck the art and inviduality out of every work. Creativity is confined and, for some, stifled.

Keep on writing! The sincerity and honesty in your writing is beautiful and rare.

Kwstar said...
on Dec. 19 2008 at 1:52 am
I loved your piece, and I totally agree that writing should be about expressing ourselves and not letting anyone take away that. I believe the last paragraph was perfect it brought the piece to a beautiful end, and you having brown hair made perfect sense to me. Keep writing, and I will keep reading!

MkM said...
on Dec. 14 2008 at 12:00 am
I really enjoyed your piece. I think it's beautiful. You can tell when reading this that you just sat down and wrote what you felt, which is what makes great writings. I find that with just a bit of editing, this could really be a moving, so make sure you always edit!

P.S.- As a student myself, I can really relate to the angst you have over lack of inspiration. A lot of the time high school teachers base their lessons on just the curriculum, but they fail to see that the lackluster responses their students produce is really just a byproduct of their own ignorance. It bothers me a lot too.

Debaser12 said...
on Dec. 9 2008 at 11:28 pm
The last paragraph is not necessarily "bad," but it could use some work for sure. It's a cool idea, but it's worded in a very awkward way. And what does the color of the author's hair have to do with anything?

on Dec. 9 2008 at 11:03 pm
When I first began to read this, I was naturally biased against it because it differs from my own style, but it really grew on me when I sensed what a voice you have. It isn't what the teachers want, but they want all kinds of technical hoohah. The Beatles couldn't even read notes, but they revolutionized music anyway. Also, I loved your conclusion paragraph; it sums up the point of your paper very nicely, and still allows the reader to see that you can be versatile in styles. Nice job!!

mb2341 said...
on Dec. 9 2008 at 2:10 am
People are commenting on this saying that they do not like or understand the last paragraph. personally, i think the last paragraph is very strong. it is not supposed to be correct, but it makes a strong statement. i love this piece. great job, i know exactly what you mean

nut buster said...
on Dec. 8 2008 at 3:12 pm
oh yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

LaughingLena said...
on Dec. 3 2008 at 7:55 pm
I agree with this author, I want to to be a jouranlist when I am older. My english teacher is different though she allows to just write sometimes which is just wonderfull. I have to say I really enjoyed your last paragraph, I can get why some people don't get it though, but I get it and I love it!

JayBaby said...
on Dec. 1 2008 at 11:04 pm
This has little structure. I don't understand the overall point you are trying to make and the last paragraph makes no sense at all. Also, there are many grammatical mistakes. On a good note, you have many descriptive adjectives.

Debaser12 said...
on Nov. 30 2008 at 12:14 pm
The dilemma you face of conformity vs. creativity is one that nearly every literary counter-culture movement has challenged. Have you ever read anything by the Beats? Any Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg? You would probably like them. I do think there is something interesting about this piece, however it could also use some serious editing. For example, in the first paragraph, you basically say the same thing three times. You also misuse words ("learnt") and there are some things that would make the piece stronger if they were omitted, like the whole thing about Oscar Wilde. The last paragraph is interesting, but needs to be connected to the rest of the piece somehow. At least take out "Oh. By the way" because that is an awkward transition. These are all minor things though, so keep revising and keep up the good work.

on Nov. 27 2008 at 9:08 pm
You go girl. True down to the last sentence. Be you and no one else.

JoeG said...
on Nov. 27 2008 at 8:14 pm
i think this author is really good at commenting themself.

on Nov. 25 2008 at 10:27 pm
The conclusion paragraph is off topic, but i disagree that it detracts from the article. I actually think that it adds to it.

Gary said...
on Nov. 25 2008 at 10:23 pm

I enjoyed your writing. It is deeply thoughtful and has a touch of melancholy. At times it reminds a lot of myself, in my own youthful days, when words and paintings are my only escape to solace.

I particularly like your final paragraph. It gives me a feeling of coming in and out of a dream ....

Follow your heart and continue to write the way you know how, and try not to be constrained too much by structures and forms at this stage your development.

I hope to see more of your writings in the near future.

Em said...
on Nov. 22 2008 at 12:47 am
Life is jumpy. It bounces around from subject to subject with no obvious purpose a lot of the time. And she explained that Wilde wasn't really her favorite author, she just thought he'd be a good candidate for it since he got a four star review. (I think anyway, correct me if I'm wrong.) The conclusion paragraph is a little off topic, but hey, life's off topic. This was the most real thing that I've read in a long time. I think it was Ernest Hemingway who said something like, "Write the truest thing you can." And that's exactly was Rachell did. I thought it was brilliant.