Student on couch, with headphone on at computer

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.

photo of Vero Lecocq

Vero Lecocq
Virtual Writing Center Consultant
Antioch University