I’m a Writer

Steffany Ritchie
9 min readSep 25, 2022

For anyone else afraid to say it out loud

A young woman with long dark hair and red lips glances over her shoulder with a slight smile while sitting at a typewriter.
Photo by emre keshavarz from Pexels — NO I don’t own a typewriter, but I am old enough to have used one!

For as long as I can remember I have shied away from calling myself a writer. I always wrote in journals growing up, then graduated to poetry and other teenage angst in high school.

One day, my favorite English teacher published one of my poems in a literary magazine he had put together. He didn’t tell me he was doing this ahead of time, and I was completely mortified and furious with him. I felt like he had betrayed my trust.

It was, unsurprisingly, a terrifically bad love poem about a boy I had an unrequited crush on (not “Todd”, for any readers with a memory!” 😂). Had he asked me to contribute something, I don’t recall, but if he had I would never have chosen that particularly soul-baring teenage confessional!

I think I skipped school the next day and kept my head down the rest of the week. On top of the complete social humiliation I felt, I was already comparing my writing negatively to everyone else in the magazine. A friend of mine has a brilliant mind, was the class valedictorian and already writing stuff bordering on magical realism (to be fair this was probably because she read a lot of Gabriel Garcia Marquez!).

I was just some ditz who did plays and wanted to be an actress. I wasn’t a real writer, and I was embarrassed to be included with some of my more talented classmates.

In college, I was (eventually) an English major who dabbled in theatre. As much as I loved acting, I couldn’t abide the 24/7 extra-ness of drama kids full time. The English major was such a natural fit for me, but I resisted it stubbornly for two years.

English majors were a joke, no one took them seriously. I took almost enough anthropology classes for a second major. I told myself I could be the next Jane Goodall (turns out I couldn’t, once we got to the dirt digging I was out!).

I scattered my energies around like confetti, flitting from one thing to the next. Greek mythology? Sign me up! Astronomy? Yes Please! (I admit I hoped there would be more astrology in astronomy than there was!). French film in the early 20th century? Perfect!

I was a real renaissance woman. I was also simultaneously wasting my time, tuition money and energy, and felt completely lost. My grades…

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Steffany Ritchie

Hi, I write memoir, essays, music, and pop culture. American in Scotland. Accepting coffees if you enjoy my stuff :-) https://ko-fi.com/steffanyr