A few weeks ago we had a guest in one of our seminars, and he opened his talk with a question.
He asked, “How many of you are writers?”
In our group of first year grad students, only one of us publicly admitted to being an author.
I mean, we’re art historians! Yeah, we write essays on essays and conduct research for journal and magazines. But no, of course we’re not authors.
The guest speaker preceded to tell us that we’re all authors and we should consider ourself as such.
Never have I ever considered myself an author. Sure, I wrote a 150 page undergraduate thesis, blog weekly, constantly write for grad school, and am working on getting a few articles published. But, no, no, I’m not a writer. I’ve always considered writing to be such a big creative endeavor. Authors have to have so much field experience, take time to write and rewrite, go through writers block, constantly have a list on potential ideas to add to their writing…
Then, the realization slapped me in the face.
I am a writer.
When I was a kid I had this green spiral bound notebook and each day after school I couldn’t wait to get home to continue narrating my Harry Potter spin-off series about a young witch named Jasmin.
Frankly, school doesn’t come easy to me. I was never one of those students who could just sit and absorb all of the information presented in class. Instead, I had to spend time reading the textbook and reteaching myself the materials presented over and over until it finally stuck. Scientific theories must be explained to me over and over, and math concepts go in one ear and out the other with no comprehension. But something about writing was different. For some reason I’ve never had a problem turning my thoughts into sentences on paper. In middle and high school I took a bunch of writing classed, but in undergrad I didn’t take any English classes. I didn’t miss out on writing, don’t worry. Basically all of my art history classes were writing intensive. We worked on thesis statements, grammar, essay organization, and citation guidelines all under the guise of studying art.
Knowing all of this, how, after studying art history for 6 years, am I just now considering myself a writer.
How did this happen?
Anyway, proof that grad school is about more than only turning in assignments and making connections. It’s also about finding your strengths and the things you like to do and finding ways to integrate them into your career.