Teen Author Sienna, Falling Apart

Today is FAN FRIDAY when I feature a teen’s writing.

Earlier this week thirteen-year-old Sienna sent me a little note asking if I would share her short story. She said she’d like writers to critique her work. Her English teacher gave the class an assignment to write something that might surprise others.

This is a great example of how writing and sharing our innermost thoughts can be therapeutic and helpful to others too.

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When your life feels like it’s falling apart, when you’re falling with a broken heart, living is the hardest part.

You don’t know whether life is worth living or if today will be your last day.  You can’t find the point in trying when all it does is get you no where and just a lot more of you, you haven’t yet wasted.  Some people choose to let the battle in their heads rage on until they finally give in and give up.  Others choose to fight no matter how hard it is, how tiring it is, and they aren’t going to let the battle run their lives any farther.  Through strength, courage, and the will to win, Katrina fights her way into the happy life she not only wants but deserves.

5 years old.  Everybody is running around, glass shattering, pot and pans banging,  and non-stop talking.  I am so confused. I don’t understand this.  Mom is crying, dad is swearing, and Grandma won’t even look at me.  As far as Katrina knew everything was just fine the day before and now her whole life is being tested by fate.  She doesn’t know where to go from here,  that small two-bedroom apartment was all she knew, the one place she felt safe and at home, the spot where all the mean and hurtful words that the boys said to her stopped.  She had unconditional love with no expiration date.

11 years old.  All her life Katrina struggled to fit in, to find her originality.  Her voice was lost somewhere in between the six years it took to grow up.  Being treated like an adult at eleven years old is not as easy as she made it look.  Every night she fell asleep crying, wishing somebody knew how miserable she was, how badly her heart was broken. Oh, how she longed for the chance to be three years old with no worries about whether her shoes matched her shirt, or if her hair was the newest style.  The smile that was once so beautiful, and the blue eyes that once shined so bright, faded.  Slowly, piece by piece, Katrina was losing the battle that controlled her mind.

12 years old.  Fighting the tears back as her five year old memories came to life again.  But this time she understood every last minute of it.  I can’t win anymore.  I want to crawl under my blankets and never come out.  Nobody understands me anymore.  All I want is for someone to finally listen to me.  To give me the bear hug I never had, and to tell me….It is gonna be alright.  But reality is cruel in so many ways. Katrina feared every word because she knew they were coming true.

Having no where to go, having no place to call home, having no bed and blankets to crawl into at night where she could let all the days worries disappear, Katrina was in desperate need of someone to fight for her, but instead, she kept it all to herself and fought for everyone else.

Except now Katrina never felt happy,  the sadness and the depression was beginning to take over what was left of the only sanity she had.  Life was getting the best of daddy’s little girl, the one who used to run in the rain with nothing but pure happiness on her face,  the one who fell and always had someone there to pull her back up,  the one who didn’t know the meaning of a fake smile.  Nobody really knew how she fell so far and gave up trying to stand again. Not even herself. Not at first.

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Being sad for a week was one thing, but Katrina’s entire life had turned into sadness. Everyday it was a struggle to get out of bed,  brush her hair, and put on the fake smile that everybody loved, the one with the pain behind it.

Today, she still stands with the memories of her disastorus childhood.  She still remembers how it felt to fall and never stand again.  All her life she never had someone to tell her that she wasn’t alone and that her life would be okay.  She wanted to scream out so badly and let everyone know that she wasn’t the failure everybody made her out to be.  She wanted everybody else to know  how broken their vision of society made her.

Suicide became Katrina’s only answer, but the one thing that kept the fire in her burning was the hope that somebody would reach out and throw the lifesaver she so desperatly needed.

Katrina is now giving courage to others to ask for help. Her life has gotten better. No life is perfect, but Katrina chose to look beyond the imperfections of hers. The girl that once walked through the hallways with her head down trying not to be noticed, now walks with the smile of contentment in her eyes. Proudly, she tells her story to teen girls who are fighting the same sadness she once felt.

Now, Katrina is living out her dream by throwing that lifesaver to others who need to be saved, and her story continues until one day the final word will be written. Until that day, Katrina will continue to piece together who Katrina is.

Katrina is me.

Please encourage Sienna on her writing journey and in her quest to help others speak out about their pain. 



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  1. Thank you for sharing from your heart in such an open and honest way. God has great plans for your writing!

  2. THis is so amazing. I can’t believe she is only 13. well done.

  3. Sienna, your piece is very powerful and shows a lot of talent. Keep it up.

    You asked for critique, and nothing is ever perfect, so I’ll try to oblige. But I’ll begin with a two-part lesson on dealing with critiques. First, you need to be both tough-skinned and sensitive. Tough-skinned because some critiques will sound as if they are criticizing you as well as your work, although that is not usually the person’s intention. Sensitive because if the critiquer reads your words one way, other readers may, too. You may discard the advice eventually, but think it through before you do.

    That leads me to the second part of the lesson. Don’t assume that every critique is correct and every piece of advice is right for you. A lot of the advice you get may conflict, and trying to follow it all will drive you crazy. Yes, you are young, and even those of us who are older should be continually improving our craft. But in the end, you are the only one who knows what you are trying to accomplish, and you need to develop your own style. So take the advice that works for you and your piece and set the rest aside.

    Now for the critique of “Falling Apart.”

    I won’t comment on the typos, which you can find and fix yourself. I’d rather concentrate on the substance.

    One of the great things about the piece is its universality. I had different experiences growing up and my suicidal thoughts didn’t come until college, but I experienced Katrina’s feelings. I’m glad you didn’t go into the facts, because that would hurt the universality of the piece.

    On the other hand, I would have liked just a little more detail. If you have word constraints (as you might for a school assignment), you may have to leave it like this. But I think you could rework it and submit it to a teen magazine. If you do that, here are the questions it leaves in my mind that you might want to consider answering—briefly.

    By the time she was 12 years old, she understood what had happened at 5. But I didn’t. Was her father abusive? Did one of her parents leave? Where did she go after leaving that small two-bedroom apartment?

    In the paragraph after the one headed “12 years old,” you say she has “no bed and blankets to crawl into at night where she could let all the day’s worries disappear.” Is she homeless, living on the streets, or is it that she has a bed but doesn’t feel at home in it?

    Finally, what is it that turned her away from suicidal thoughts and made her life better? Was there a person who reached out and threw the lifesaver? In my case, it came from someone who didn’t even know she was doing it, and I think it is good to encourage the encourager as well as the one needing encouragement.

    I love the ending. Those three words have a power that fits the piece perfectly.

    As I noted above, these are all suggestions. Take what works for you and your piece and discard the rest.

    But most of all, keep it up.

    Kathryn Camp

    • Hi Kathryn – Awesome words of encouragement and helpful suggestions/questions. I’m sure Sienna will appreciate this. I don’t know how often she is online, but I will make sure she reads all the comments. I had the same questions about her story as you did and hope she spends time flushing out more of the story.

      You were kind to take the time to write this today. We appreciate you!

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