OUR PLACE IN THIS WORLD
In this special issue, instead of column articles, we bring to you the views of various members of the Riot Mag family as they discuss what their role as a writer is in this ever-changing world.
In a world that always seems to question, Riot is a place that answers. Within our unified voices, there lies only one common characteristic - that of being a writer. And that’s what makes Riot, Riot. For a group of teens who aren’t really taken seriously a lot, we have pretty concrete and definitive views of the world we live in, if I dare say so myself. And being writers, we’re fortunate enough to be able to project those views into the outside world for people to listen. Isn’t that what we all yearn for - to be heard?
I like to think of the wide sea of articles and reports and blogs out there not as individual articles, reports, and blogs, but as part of a discussion, a debate, even, that’s larger than we can ever know. When I write an article, I’m not telling the reader to do something, and I’m definitely not making a statement - I’m merely contributing to this discussion. Whether I’m talking about a video game, economics, or flags (all of which I’ve done), I’m just painting my little dot upon a canvas that’s been painted by a million others. That’s what writing, and really any form of expression, is all about - making sure your little dot is there on the canvas.
When it comes to writing, there is no formula that gives you the perfect article. The entire purpose of expressing yourself is to be human and perfection just makes that impossible.
The only rule that’s necessary to follow while writing something is to have a point. What exactly your point is doesn’t matter so long as you have one and it means something to you. Because that is what ties your piece together. It could be a neatly tied package with a bow on top or an odd-shaped lump that has mysteriously caught on fire. The key to getting that wrapping right is lots of practice (and not wrapping things near kerosene).
Everything that you write doesn’t have to be revolutionary or something that’s never been said before. It just has to be something that you want to say (and if that something is related to fire or French desserts, I’d love to read it). Remember that your writing could influence someone’s perception of the world. Hopefully, you’ll use that power for good.
I never thought of myself as a writer (and still don’t really), but the aspect of writing that I believe was the most appealing to me is the freedom of expression. Even writing about the most mundane of things can be enjoyable to write about and can be made exciting and relatable for anyone who reads it. Anything and everything someone has experienced or imagined will never be out of place when it is in the written form. To the part of me that feels like a writer, that is really freeing.
I have never been linguistically capable. To tell you the truth, I find it to be demanding and quite strenuous for me to advocate for what I'm passionate for via my literal voice. However, my literary abilities help me speak my mind- thoughts, opinions, emotions and so much more; I am able to educate myself. IGCSE English created this loathing in me for writing and it is only now that I have fully understood and comprehended its purpose and its true, yet unactualized potential and the power that lies in words. It's a matter of perspective, some may choose to wreak havoc, spread misinformation and all sorts of media that instigate negative emotions but then again, some may choose to inform, to state, and it is during these times that we can inculcate positive changes in society.
Writing, to me, is about communication above all. I write to be understood. If I’m putting something into the world, I need to make sure the work starts something, or adds to a larger conversation. I think, as writers, it’s presumptuous to assume a position of authority but it’s our duty to be honest. It’s a tricky line to walk, but it’s easiest when I remember to be earnest.
The clicking of keys on a laptop, drinking coffee, and writing only after 10pm are some things all my articles have in common. As a writer, I started out my journey being distant from the readers, just talking about current events and analysing the effects of the pandemic on our economy. As I grew as a writer, I started being more confident and writing articles that were more personal to me. I added my own personality and essence to the articles, telling readers about my opinion on things, and explaining my reasoning while also not forcing them on readers. I am glad I can make my mark as a writer and I think that when you build on a topic and talk about it, a lot of good can be accomplished. I am really grateful that this magazine gave me and the other amazingly talented writers here such a platform to express ourselves.
My entire life, I’ve held my head high and hands outstretched, yelling, and waiting for somebody to listen. Writing helped me do exactly that. Writing has always been a way for me to express myself, but of late, it’s become so much more. First, it’s changed the way I look at life. When I write, every word has weight. Every emotion I have ever felt, every experience I’ve ever had, is transformed to an anecdote, a memory to recall in rhyme scheme. It’s a bittersweet feeling.
Secondly, it’s helped me understand the world around me. I’ve been able to educate myself, while also knowing I have a long way to go. With this knowledge sometimes comes a terrifying, bleak feeling, but it is something I'll learn to live with, like an old friend I cannot look in the eye. I hope, one day, that my writing can pave the paths of real change. And I hope, until that day comes, that I never stop trying.
I’ve always been opinionated to a fault, and writing was something I would do to prove I was right - incessantly shoving papers scrawled with my ideas and thoughts in people’s faces. While I will admit that a couple of times it has just been something that was required of me, I also slowly discovered that it was beyond having a meticulously formatted argumentative piece for the ICSE curriculum’s (unreasonable, and frankly, anxiety-inducing) requirements.
To me, it is also a way for me to connect to the people I care about. Whether it was by bonding through a mutual love for language, or simply being able to articulate feelings precisely, it has always been a method of mine to understand other people better - and truthfully, myself too. And so, it finally also dawned on me that other people’s pieces of work helped me connect to their identities too, and that there were more people whose opinions expressed the ones of entire communities.
It was good to have people hear what I thought, but writing taught me more than that. It also showed me how to listen to people.
Every word carries with it some semblance of power, and it is writers who establish a balance of that power in the world. Words lift up the voiceless, unshackle the oppressed, and never fail to bring out the best in everything. And of course, the humble writer can choose to wield them as they choose. No matter how you choose to exercise control over your words, remember that you can create magic with them. Words are extraordinary, but the people who efficiently use them are even more so.