I’m A Writer

June 10, 2016 § 12 Comments

Shelby Larson responds to Diane Lowman’sAm I a Writer or Imposter?”:

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Shelby Larson and Friend

I myself have contemplated the merits of calling myself a writer.

It is a title that doesn’t have the same prerequisites the way that “doctor,” “engineer,” “accountant,” and “entrepreneur” do. It’s one I don’t think I’ve properly earned.

From a young age, I didn’t trip over written words the way I did spoken ones. I didn’t turn red when I wrote down my opinion, and I never had to think of what to say when I had pen to paper.

Writing solved problems for me as a child. Being painfully shy, I turned red and mumbled each time a teacher or an adult would look at me. I couldn’t properly express myself verbally, but through writing I could find the words that I desperately needed to say to people.

It was something I did so often and so inadvertently that it stunned me when one of my teachers called me a gifted “writer.”

Wait, isn’t Shakespeare a writer? Jane Austen? J.K. Rowling?

I’m not one of them.

I don’t write 10 pages a day like Stephen King. I don’t write every morning before breakfast like Joyce Carol Oates.

I sometimes barely ever edit my writing, for God’s sake.

Isn’t that the writer’s cardinal sin?

Shouldn’t the ghosts of David Foster Wallace, Dorothy Parker, and Ernest Hemingway come back to haunt me for every unedited page I’ve ever turned in for a grade?

I think of my father when I think of the word “writer.” My mom and I would poke fun at him since it took him 45 minutes to write an email—indeed, there were times I would come downstairs and see him hunched over his computer screen, deleting the paragraph that took him the previous 15 minutes to craft. He chose his words carefully, like a jeweler chooses a precious stone.

He filters his words through a fine sieve. I merely word vomit onto a page.

I merely use written words when I cannot make sense of spoken ones.

I have piles of journals that have been given to me as presents that I’ve never even opened.

I AM an imposter.

I cannot count the number of assignments I’ve turned in at the last possible minute and still somehow received an A. I am not disillusioned into thinking this makes me a successful writer. It says the exact opposite.

And despite declaring myself as an English major, the amount of writing—real, turn-on-your-brain-and-THINK-about-it writing—I’ve done in college has decreased.

I’ve let life get in the way of my interaction with written words. There’s been work, or other non-English classes taking up my time. There’s been traveling. There’s been family. There’s been boyfriends, friends, a social life. I’ve let everything come between myself and writing.

So I make this declaration now:

No more.

No more justification, no more excuses.

I want to call myself a writer the way others have called me.

I want to deserve the title.

I want to be able to introduce myself with a large smile, thinking of my large pile of scribbled in journals and 12 gigabytes of Word documents waiting for me at home and say:

“Hi, my name is Shelby.

And I’m a writer.”


Shelby Larson is an avid traveler, daydreamer, crafter, and Star Wars fanatic. She is currently pursuing her BA in English and Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in Political Science, and is set to graduate this December (despite all attempts to push it back further). In addition to attending University of Omaha, Shelby attended the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway and La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia on student exchange. When she isn’t studying or working, she can be found spending time with her family and friends or binge-watching Law and Order: SVU.

§ 12 Responses to I’m A Writer

  • Jan Priddy says:

    Thank you. I, too, “want to deserve the title.”

  • Modwyn says:

    I love the sense of commitment in this piece! Well said, Shelby!

  • womantumhowaas says:

    Great post 🙂 i was a kid-writer too and these days writing comes spontaneously in spurts, i’m still working on making a routine of it…

  • Really well written 🙂 I relate to so much of this; the empty journals, being told my teachers that i was a ‘gifted writer’ and I’ll admit… the lack of editing too. Anyway, I wish you all the best with pursuing you dream – you can do it!

  • Jody Keisner says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Shelby. You sure have a lot of knowledge about the habits of writers for someone who has felt like an “imposter.” I have a feeling that you’re well on your way!

  • rockinronny says:

    I am also an imposter with a pile of journals that have yet to be open. I always feel a strange kind of guilt for wanting to stain the beautifully crisp pages with inky smudges. Smudges that will never see the light of day, let alone make me proud to admit to a stranger that “I am a writer” and not flinch. Thank you for sharing! It is good to know others feel the same way.

  • I you have a persistent passion for writing and give yourself up to it; if you are willing to revise, even sweat over the sentences long past the time you intended–if, in fact you forget time and even perhaps to eat while writing…a writer you are. At least, I have called myself that a long while due to the aforementioned. Who can call us A Writer or not? If you write intentionally and feel it is in your blood, you are a writer. Keep writing.

  • josephsilver says:

    Only a writer would compose a bittersweet love letter to the craft itself.

  • Reblogged this on Notes from An Alien and commented:
    Time for a proper post—this fine re-blog………

  • Little Voice says:

    The question can be asked, when does someone call themself an artist? After their first painting? After they sell a work of art they produced? I figure I’m a writer because I write. I don’t paint, so I’m not an artist. I don’t play the piano, so I’m not a pianist. But I write..so I am writer.

  • tmc3226 says:

    Nice work, Shelby! You hit the nail for many of us. I vote you and the rest into “writer” club membership….because we thought and wrote! 😉

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