Monday, April 18, 2011

Once Upon a Time in High School

I've been going through some of my old writing things to use for a keynote speech I'm giving this Saturday at the Teen Author Boot Camp. (Somewhere the organizers see this post and start panicking that I haven't finished my speech yet. I would reassure them, but, well...maybe they should invest in chocolate and comfort foods.)

In high school I was too scared to commit to writing longer fiction, so instead I plumbed the deep depths of my serious deepness and wrote deep poetry with much depth.

It was deep.

Deeply deep.

I bought a journal just for my poetry. When I bought it, I laughed and told everyone that it was ironic.

It was a lie. I bought it because it was sparkly. The same reason I would have bought Edward Cullen if he were for sale at the Disney Store. I LIKE SPARKLY THINGS. It's the only trait Bella and I have in common.

Of course, not content to merely scribble poems, I gave it a title. Do you want to see the title? Of course you don't. I'm going to show you anyway.

 My favorite part? "Vol I"
Umm, Kiersten? You didn't even fill up half of this book, your egregious use of line breaks notwithstanding.

To be fair, some of the poems are decent. Sure, I loved random line breaks, and isolating single words in a completely nonsensical fashion, but there's some good imagery buried in all of that hot pink self-indulgent whining.

Also, there are a whole lot of breakup poems.

Snort. As far as I know, he and his brother are no longer dating.

 Maybe Me, Myself, and I need counseling. Just sayin'.

I also wrote a lot of poems about writing poems. I was so meta! And I didn't even know what meta meant!

 Well, she needed someone to tell her that line breaks do not make a poem deep.
Also she needed to get rid of her bangs.

Now, it's easy to read these and laugh. I took myself WAY too seriously, and spent way too much time worrying about whether or not I was smarter than everyone else around me. (I wasn't.) I also spent way too much time worrying about whether or not the boys in my life liked me as much as I liked them. (They didn't. Which was a good thing.)

But it's also important to read these and remember how it felt to be me back then. Remember that I've always taken things too seriously, and that finding a sense of humor about my life is a very, very good thing. Remember how lonely just being was back then, which makes me even more grateful for where I am now with an amazing husband, two delightful kids, and truly good friends. Remember that I've always needed words as an outlet, even before I was ready to commit myself to them for longer than a handful of lines

with way too many


line breaks.

And it's also important to remember that teen me gave herself permission to feel everything, and to express what she was feeling. Even if she sometimes did it in third person. Adult me needs that reminder every now and again.

But I give adult me permission not to use a hot pink pen, because honestly.


Chelsey said...

super not useful except...


I bought it at Disney World as a teenager.

Kiersten White said...

I bought mine at Disneyland my senior year : )

Kathryn said...

Line breaks is what makes it poetry. ;) Thanks for sharing!

Spinch said...

Wow, that reminds me of the poem I wrote for the Sir Knight competition that year. I don't have a copy of it anymore, but the bits I do remember make me cringe. And then laugh.

Artemis Grey said...

I wrote all sorts of BAD poetry back then... and some really, really awful stories as well... but they're like the biggest guilty pleasure to back and read through them...

We even had one notebook that my sister, bff and I would pass back and forth, continuing the story where the prior person left off! I think when it finally got abandoned we were all married and living on a ranch together and there had been a plane crash and we didn't know if our hubbies were alive *GASP*

Yeah, but frighteningly enough, my sister married her very guy from that story (uh, of COURSE the characters were based on actual guys!) and they've been together for like 13 years and have an atrociously precious daughter... stranger than fiction... in truth...

Ginny said...

I love how Tinkerbell is hovering over every poem, pointing her fairy wand at each one. "Another deep poem? Okay!" *sparkles* *glitter* *deep poem appears magically*

I invited people to participate in an angsty teenage poetry slam but no one took me up on it. Thanks for sharing yours.

Caryn Caldwell said...

Random line breaks are all well and good, but don't forget the other staples of angsty teen girl poetry: overwrought metaphor, shaky symbolism, liberal indentation of lines, and occasional rhyming (for empashis).

I love to read my teenage poetry, though it makes me cringe, too.

Deirdre Randall said...

I just had an ohmygosh moment when my own teen lit was written in a tinkerbell book - except mine was covered in sparkly fabric - and wasn't by choice.

I was a child of the e-world and had an online diary. oh diaryland. They say it's shut down if you don't post for so long, but I can still find it. all 5 accounts I had. (duh. one for poems, one for my "novel", one for links and other crap.. one for talking about R-rated subjects [really more 14A - but I thought I was badass] and one that was just a diary) everyonce in a while I look over them and share them with my fiance.

he looks at me like I suddenly grew tenticles. yeah, i don't blame him for not understanding teen me, adult me is still confused.

Megs said...

Ha ha, oh those days. I remember what else you bought at that store too. :)

For some reason, teens just like expressing themselves with poetry. I think it has something to do with how short it usually is; less commitment required... (Although none of us would really admit that.)

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I wrote bad poetry in high school, too. And some good poetry. Lots of angsty stuff. It's probably a rite of passing for a writer.

S.P. Bowers said...

Great blog! I so need this reminder. I need to go dig up my old notebooks. I didn't go in for sparkly or pink though.

Ru said...

Haha, I think everyone in high school takes themselves way too seriously. It's a rite of passage. :)

Jeigh said...




Candice said...

The line that says, "I hope you find somebody you're crazy about and she uses you" (or something like that) makes me think of the All American Reject's song line:

If you find a man that's worth a d___ and treats you well
Then he's a fool you're just as well
Hope it gives you h__

(Yes, I just self-censored so as not to sully your blog with my questionable taste in music, but in my defense, it's a very catchy song.)

phyllis sweetwater said...

Teensge chemistry lends itself to morbidity. They can't help it. Hormone anti-therapy I like to call it. A release is nessisary. Poetry is my favorite kind. I didn't realize I was a writer when I was in college searching for a "real" career. I WISH I would have looked at my hundreds of poems and thought this isn't just a depressing phase like my parents think it is. This is actually my life. I would have started seriously writing way sooner.
great discussion. I hope your key note address goes well!

Anonymous said...

Tink! Sparkles! Pink!

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Not gonna lie, I would totally buy that notebook now. And I no longer have the excuse of youthful exuberance.

Mercy said...

Aww, now I'm even more upset that I'm not going to that thing!
Halfway across the country to go to a writing thing ... didn't go over too well when I asked my mom. *sigh*
I love the random line breaks. I write teenage poems too. But mine are less angsty. For example, a few lines from a poem I wrote the other day in history:
"Craziness runs through my veins
I think I might just be insane
Algebra, it hurts my brain
I think I'll fold some paper cranes

Life is confusing, so have some fun
Survive the ax murderers, just run run run"
Yeah. I have a different form of angst expression.

Frxnk said...

I love how whenever a personal journal or anything similar gets titled "Volume I", it almost never gets filled past halfway.

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

Cute. I did this as well. Only my book was a flowery one someone else gave me and all the things I wrote in it were very depressing. For a long time I believed that I couldn't write anything worth reading unless I was depressed while writing it. Because, ya know, you always feel more deeply in that state of mind. Thankfully I got past that.

Becky Wallace said...

I took a college final in hot pink pen. My professor loved it. So don't give up on the pen! Use it for book signings.

Whirlochre said...

So deep I had to read it strapped to an aqualung.

Murr Brewster said...

Thanks to the good old internet, I have had communication with three long-suppressed friends who each sent me something I'd written when I was not yet twenty. And each one has guaranteed that I will have a sense of humor today, because otherwise I'd have to do myself in. I didn't save any of this $%*&--why did they, and how many more of them are out there???

Katrina L. Lantz said...

This is what makes you great for writing books for teens, for sure (needed another 'for' in that sentence).

Teen me totally relates to teen you, and teen you pops up in Paranormalcy in a way that makes us all feel slightly less crazy for being weird.

And I tried writing my journal entries/poems in rainbow colors way back when, but it took a REALLY long time. I can't recommend it. Hot pink is even preferable.

Paranormal Opinion said...

I used to write poetry back in middle school... I don't think I'd even want to look at the notebook, let alone read what is inside of it. I'm cringing just thinking about it. Life was just too depressing back then. Wait, I don't think life is any different NOW. How depressing...

Genna Sarnak said...

This is a fabulous post!

As a former angst-ridden teenage poet myself, I take immense comfort in the strides you have made since that Tinkerbell notebook. I think we all need to revisit our younger selves from time to time in order to "remember how it felt to be us." Very insightful!

I am now tempted to go back through my drawers of writing journals and letters and delve into myself as well!

Love, love, love this post and the concept. Thanks for sharing!

LinWash said...

Ha! That's awesome! And I hope I hot purple pen is okay, 'cause that's what I used in my journal for my deep thoughts and poetry (which usually centered around a breakup).

Michelle Wolfson said...

These poems just make me love you more.
I think my favorite line is the one about dating his brother. Hints of the humor to come?

Ciara G said...

Who loves Mercy's poem? I love Mercy's poem.
I don't write poetry, I write songs. As in, I make up random melodies in my head and put words with them and then I write down the words and then I hide the paper and forget where I hid the paper and when I find it six months later I read it and thing 'Oh...yeah. No.'
Anyway, the first SONG I wrote was had the words 'Whoo groovy whoo' in the chorus, and my first attempt at story telling was because I got bored two lines in to a novel called Posh Pup, so I decided I would write a book called 'Posh Pup 2' and try to de-cliche the dog story, but asked my sister about two pages in if it was illegal to write a sequel to someone elses book. She said yes. I ditched it.

Sierra Gardner said...

I used to take myself super seriously in high school as well. I remember the point (as an adult) where I realized that what happened to me didn't actually affect the entire workings of the universe. =)

Delia said...

Break up

Anonymous said...

You are seriously so cute. I love your blog and LOVE Paranormalcy. Very much looking forward to Supernaturally.

Amanda said...

I'm in high school, and I've only written poems once, to help my best friend get over a breakup. :) A sample:

Deep depressing thoughts
Haunt my every crevice
I can't get away
I can't get away

The light is getting farther away
The darkness devouring the light of day
I can't get through
I can't get through

He captivates my mind
With his text so unkind
I want to kill
I want to kill

So I'm not your type?
That girl in the back
Better watch HER back
Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha.

Poisoned candy to deliver
A "gift"
The death will not be swift

..... Your poems are sounding really good right now. Also, I promise I am neither depressed nor homicidal. Can't wait for Supernaturally!!

Rebecca Knight said...

Hee hee hee :). I love this post!

I laughed out loud at your teen self saying "OH, I'm carrying this around IRONICALLY" and then secretly caressing the light-catching sparkles in your room later that day...

It's also awesome to read the comments and know that we *all* did this as teens. Bless us. The Bad Poetry Phase must be something all writers go through.

Or maybe just all teens?

Stephanie Perkins said...

When I was in high school, I was VERY influenced by ee cummings. Or so I thought. Here is what I would have said about your journal:

i like
the spark
and the line
are so

Jennifer Morian Frye said...

I didn't write poetry, but reading journals from highschool......ugh. Useful at the time but Ugh. : )

Diane Kneeland said...

hahahahah I totally know what you mean!