Dear Young Writer

by Morgan Sutton

To the adolescent writer:

You do not have to be tragic. Tragic things may happen to you, or tragic things may not happen to you, but you do not need to be a tragic person.

They say, Van Gogh was Sad and so he was an artist. They say, Sylvia Plath was Sad so she became a poet, but poetry did not heal her, and she killed herself, anyway.

Do not think, “if I am to write I must be sad.” Do not think, “it is much more poetic to be tragic, to be deadly.” Your mother, she cries because she thinks that you are so, so talented. But she cannot bring herself to encourage you, because you insist that you must be sad, must feel hopeless, in order to write. 

It is okay to be sad, and it is okay to be Quite Sad, but it is not okay to feel Sad because you feel it is mandatory. Writer, mental illness is not a fad. Is not your pet,  is not a cloak you may put on when you wish, and most importantly it is not a prerequisite for being an artist.

It is easy to be a person who is poignant with words, who writes emotionally and powerfully without being a tragic person yourself. It is my guarantee and my promise that if you help yourself first, to grow bolder and more confident, then you will find the writer you that you are searching for.

Immense self-confidence is not a prerequisite for being a writer, but something that will develop with your writing. When you love yourself, when you do not think you must be unhappy to make art, you will find your passion. You will find what angers you, what strengthens you, what you could not live without, what makes you feel the desire to live and flourish. And with this your writing will begin to develop, no, explode.

Young writer, there is nothing you need to be a writer besides pen, paper, and passion. Do not tell yourself that you must be sad. Tell yourself that you must be passionate, for there is nothing more writerly than passion.

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