You ARE a Writer!

By: Sarah Ainslee

There were small moments growing up that practically screamed ‘YOU ARE A WRITER‘ directly in my face. I just didn’t realize it.

The year was 2000. The grade was third. The bangs were atrocious. I was a terrible student, and that’s not me being self-deprecating either. I came in below-average in almost every subject. Well, all except English where I was, against all odds, thriving. One day, we were asked to come up with a two-page creative writing assignment on the subject of adventure. I took it as my opportunity to shine.

My project was nearly five pages long, using both the front and back of the wide-ruled paper, thankyouverymuch. I can’t remember what I wrote about. I think it had something to do with me inheriting a horse ranch (because MILLENNIAL! HORSE GIRL! PHASE!) What I do remember was how the teacher looked at me when I handed my paper(s) in. 

“This is remarkably excessive,” she’d laugh, licking her thumb and flipping through the pages. “Nobody is asking you to write a book.”  

A few years later, I wound up in an acting class just outside Hollywood (my mother is still finding it in her heart to forgive me for not becoming famous after the [redacted]’s of dollars she spent on those classes.)

“Go home tonight and come up with a character,” our teacher would assign to us that afternoon. “When you come back to class tomorrow, you will be acting out your character while reading a scripted monologue.” 

I went home that night and filled several pieces of paper with my character ideas. She had a backstory, family history, even a completely irrelevant favorite color (lime green, FYI). I loved the process of creating so much, I came up with several other characters for my classmates in case they forgot to come back with any material for themselves. Because apparently, eleven-year-old Sarah had about as much faith in humanity as I do today…

Following my reading, the teacher would praise me with his Americanized British accent. “You’re a good storyteller, Sarah! You should write more!” 

I took that to heart, and from there, it just never stopped. I went home and began filling notebooks with (awful) angsty love stories, which eventually turned into (awful) angsty fanfiction on message boards. As time went on, my writing evolved. I got a little less awful, and eventually fell into the hybrid role of a music journalist/social media manager. All the while, still giving space to the characters in my head and the stories they’d eventually have me tell. 

It’s been an internal war for years, the voices of my third-grade teacher and my middle school acting coach. Even as I’ve spent the last few years writing, editing, polishing, and pitching manuscripts, it’s all felt like one big game of playing pretend. I wasn’t a “real” writer. Sure, I could come up with ideas and tell stories, but until my name was on the cover of a book, none of it mattered. Imposter syndrome is so fickle.  

Several weeks ago, I had a tweet make the rounds amongst the writing community. It was about how I rejected an offer of representation from a publisher (it’s a story I’ll share more about in coming blogs, so stay tuned!) A few mornings after it unexpectedly blew up, I woke up to a message from a small book blog saying they saw the tweet and asking if I’d give an author interview. 

“I’m sorry,” I responded, “I’m not an author. I don’t think that’s fair.” 

They got back right away. “It’s perfectly fair. You’re just an author who isn’t published yet.” 

Well, shoot. Talk about perspective!

Wouldn’t it be cool if we saw ourselves that way? For the potential of what could be rather than what we aren’t? Because you and I, we ARE writers, will-be authors in the making, even if everyone else doesn’t see it yet—including ourselves at times.

Never count yourself out of the things you dream of. Send the queries, edit the manuscripts, put in the hard work towards picking your book up off a shelf one day, but be proud of how far you’ve come along the way. You’ve created your own corner of the world out of nothing but creativity and love (and probably a ton of tears and snacks too.) That is no small thing!

What stories are you working on right now? COMMENT below with your WIP! (The world needs them!)

Sarah Ainslee is an aspiring YA author. When she’s not writing, you can find her coffee shop hopping, running, overthinking, or posting every single one of her in-depth thoughts on the Marvel Cinematic Universe over on her Instagram.

12 thoughts on “You ARE a Writer!

  1. This is very assuring, thanks Sarah:). And I’m very eager to see the post about your decision not to sign with the agent! The imposter syndrome can hit really hard sometimes and posts like these really help us all. Thanks for sharing!

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