Will the Real Academic Writer Please Stand Up?
I stared blankly at a writing placement test, unsure of what it wanted, and wondered who I was kidding. Miraculously, nobody called my bluff, and I was soon accepted to a master’s program.
Writing seemed a modest academic exercise, demonstrating that I could satisfy a rubric. I saw no comparison between my own writing and the sources on my syllabi. I wrote myself off as an academic impostor.
A major conference was hosted in my field. I didn’t think that I deserved to go, but I nervously mimicked my peers and registered, certain I’d be discovered as a fraud. On Day One, I sat feeling completely out of place when an unassuming woman struck up a conversation. I was stunned to discover that this approachable person was a well-respected and prolific writer in the field.
Back at school, I sometimes picked up her writing for class. It struck me that these books all started as ideas in her head—but how did the metamorphosis take place? I began to speculate. I pictured her sitting at a keyboard, searching for words, revising ad nauseum. But… I knew someone else who did those same things: me. Perhaps I wasn’t quite so bogus after all.
These days, I believe I can contribute to the conversation. The writer from the conference does have more experience than I have (yet), but she doesn’t have some golden touch that I was born without. She started out in shoes like mine, and I could very well follow in her footsteps. To all my fellow “frauds,” I offer an image: any celebrated writer staring at an empty page or screen. The distance from a passing notion to a finished paper isn’t measured just in strokes of genius, but in the diligent strokes of fingers on computer keys.
Virtual Writing Center Consultant
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