Thinking about My Writerly Self

Ellen A. Thompson , Ed. D

Ellen reading her book at a Room 6 Author’s Tea…long, long ago!

Am I a writer? 

What is a writer?

noun. a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist. a clerk, scribe, or the like. … a person who writes or is able to write: a writer in script.

Well, I can write in cursive – sort of.  I’ve always wanted to write using calligraphy.  I even bought the book and the ink and the nibs.  Still in the box.

I write a lot for others, but not so much for me.  Does that matter?  Should it?  This pandemic has made me more philosophical.  I question things more.  Am I a writer?  Or am I someone who writes?  There’s the question!

In 2nd grade I was a writer!  Really, I was.  My second grade teacher, Miss Connolly told me so and I believed her!  There.  She let me write all day long, anything I wanted to write!  I made up comics and stories.  I wrote informational books.  To this day, I am still not sure why she let me write so much.  My cynical self thinks she was taking a writing course and she needed student examples to get a good grade.  Did teachers take writing courses in 1962?  I don’t have any of the stories, so either Miss Connolly kept them all or my mom got rid of them in one of her annual purges of all things fun.  

I remember that feeling of putting the words down on paper and then reading them aloud to anyone who would listen.  I had one school chum who wrote along with me most of the time, so we were each other’s audience.  The other kids were doing regular second grade stuff, but not me.  I was writing!

It all seems fishy to me now.  I have a feeling I was one of those “smart” kids and not afraid to show it. Writing probably kept me quiet.  Could that be the real story?  My teacher needed a break, so she let me do what I loved best – write.  And read.  I was a voracious reader, too.  So many models for so much more writing to create.

Hmmm.  My destiny as a writer shaped by my vocality as a kid.  Could it be? Perhaps I have always had something I wanted to say.  Makes sense.  Writing does that for us.  It allows us to consider and reconsider our thoughts and ideas.  To make them measure up for others to see.  I know when I write now, I rewrite and start again many times.  This blog post has been in the making for months!  In fact I even missed my own superimposed deadline for getting it on the webpage.  Writing is also frightening at times. Will my words make sense? Do my words matter?  To me?  To anyone else?

So if I think about my journey as a writer, I have to consider all the kids who are just starting their own writerly quest and be sure that I am emparting what I have learned about myself as a writer.

  • Do our words matter?  Yes.
  • Is writing for others part of “writing”?  Yes.
  • Do writers’ need an audience for their writing?  Yes.
  • Do writers; need validation and feedback for their writing?  Yes.
  • Do writers’ need models of really good writing?  Yes.
  • Can we create our very own writerly self?  Yes.

It takes time to be a writer.  Everyone’s journey will be different, yet surprisingly the same.  We need others to support our progress and reflection.  We need to understand the myriad of ways words can be placed on the printed page.  We need time to develop as readers and writers.

Thank you, Linda Rief for inspiring me to get this post on the page!