Featured Fig: J. Li

Each week we will be featuring one member for their outstanding contributions to the Figment community.

This week we’re featuring J. Li! Check out five of their stories along with their interview answers below!

What do you enjoy most about Figment and its community?

  • Figment is such a great space for young writers to write and publish their stories. It is one of the few, if not only, writing communities specifically aimed at teenagers, and one that encourages constructive criticism and not just meaningless praise. I joined this site at a time when I thought I was the next J. K. Rowling, and after five years of being on this site, hundreds of comments and reviews later, I realize how dead wrong I was. But if I didn’t have that delusion five years ago, I would never have pursued writing and never found the courage to publish my stories online. Figment is a space for young writers to realize they’re not literary geniuses (yet), but it provides the community and resources possible to transform a dream into a reality.

What is your favorite story that you have shared on Figment and why?

  • My favorite story on Figment is by far “A Pretty How World.” Not many people know this, but it originally started out as a completely different novel titled They Call Me Human, a novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2012. After reading over my rough draft in 2014, I realize just how poorly written it is and decided to completely rewrite it. The only things I kept from They Call Me Human are the character names and the fact that it is about a dystopian society. A Figment user named Johanna Pascalnova read all 60K words and offered a extremely detailed and thorough review that remains one of the best reviews I’ve ever received. Because of her confidence that this story has potential, I decided to submit it in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition, under the national category of Novel-Writing. I found out in 2015 that I had actually won the National Gold Medal in Novel-Writing. I attribute my success to Figment- if I hadn’t been exposed to literally thousands of other people’s writings, reviewed and commented on theirs which improved my own skills, received comments and reviews on my stuff, and continued editing, my writing technique would not have been polished enough to receive recognition at the national level.

Where do you find inspiration to write and keep writing?

  • My inspiration to write comes from just looking at the world around me and thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to somehow record the thoughts I’m having right now, my feelings about the world I live in, the things I find wrong with it and the things I find beautiful, so that in the future I can look back at the way my old self used to think and believe. I motivate myself to keep writing because I believe that everyone’s thoughts are extremely precious and valuable and they’re the one thing that separates us from everyone else, and that it is your duty as a human being to express yourself, to create art, something that will last the ages. When I wrote A Pretty How World, I would stay up until 3 AM typing away into the night because I felt as though I *needed* to get this story into the world. I never expected to publish it, I never expected people to actually read it. I just wanted to write it for myself and myself only.

What is the last book that you read?

  • The last book I read is called The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I heard about it from Oprah, actually, and it’s a book about spiritual enlightenment and how to live in the moment. I’m in college right now and I realize how important it is to be present in every moment, to enjoy life because these are my glory days and I don’t want to miss a single second. Highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about themselves and how to let go of your worries and inhibitions and just enjoy life as it is.

Do you have any advice for other Figgies looking to improve their writing?

  • My advice for fellow Figgies, especially those who are just starting out in writing, is to realize that the first piece of writing you write will most likely not be on the top of the Bestsellers list. But that’s okay. You keep writing, you keep working at it. I know right now that my writing technique and skill still has a long, long way to go before it gets to the level where I want it to be. But that’s the same with every craft- you keep pushing, keep climbing, even though it may not be the best thing in the world. I had to write three full-length novels to finally hit upon the style that most represented me and my thoughts. Go around walls and ask for swaps, give honest reviews and criticism, actively look for things that the writers can improve on because I guarantee, this is one of the best ways to improve your own skills. Go out into the world and don’t be afraid to think about things. Finally, I would advise Figgies to write for themselves, not for anyone else- not for your followers, not for your friends. But for you. Put down the thoughts that you want to put down, tell the story that you want to tell, and the direction you want it to go.

Congratulations again and thank you for sharing your talent, inspiration and advice with us! Be sure to check out some of their work below.

Congratulations again!

Let us know who you think should be our next Featured Fig!

– The Figment Team

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