Writing a Future: Kelcey Ervick on Becoming a Writer

As we get ready to welcome 2023 Ohioana Book Award winning author, Kelcey Ervick for her graphic novel reading, we sat down with her to know the story behind the writer. Kelcey shares her inspirations, her doubts, and some words of advice for young writers who hope to get their work published. Kelcey will be sharing from her award-winning graphic memoir, “The Keeper: Soccer, Me, and the Law That Changed Women’s Lives,” which speaks to Kelcey’s story, as well as the stories of women athletes in general during her visit to campus on April 3, 2024. 

Young Kelcey Ervick holding a football.

“In a way my writing life started on the soccer field,” says Kelcey. “I was a goal keeper, so I was apart from the rest of the team and kind of by myself for long stretches of time. We had multiple games every weekend and we traveled a lot so I kind of spent my life in the back of a soccer field making up stories and imagining all sorts of situations. And like so many writers, my inspiration comes from reading. I loved reading as a kid and getting lost in stories and imagined one day I could do it too.”

Kelcey’s involvement in women’s soccer provided her with the inspiration and background that she needed to put her story into words. “The Keeper: Soccer, Me, and the Law That Changed Women’s Lives,” details the importance of Title IX and how it provided      more opportunities for girls and women in sports. The graphic memoir also chronicles Kelcey’s story as a goalkeeper and follows the path that led her to become a writer.

“I grew up playing goalkeeper in women’s soccer and sports in general in the early years of Title IX, which celebrated its 50th anniversary recently,” Kelcey says. “So, I’m kind of telling my own story but thinking of it in the larger context of women’s sports and Title IX. But it’s also about how I became a writer, seeing connections between being a goalkeeper and being a writer, and being a female athlete and a female writer.”

While Kelcey feels validated in her career choices now, she admits that it was a long road filled with many obstacles. The doubts she faced about her choice to be a writer existed alongside her passion to do what she really loves. In the end, she followed her passion regardless. 

“The life of a writer is a life of many more rejections than acceptances,” says Kelcey. “The nice thing is an acceptance outweighs all the rejections and you only need one acceptance to be published somewhere. You just have to stay in it and you do have to reframe your thinking about rejection and acceptance. Actually, I was visiting a class of writers at Notre Dame and they were all sharing their acceptances and rejections for that week and they clapped for rejections and for acceptances. Like, yes, rejections are good! You are putting your work out there and that is just part of the process.”

Kelcey’s own journey spans several years and started with minor publications in literary journals and finding support and validation among her peers and community. Her interest in graphic novels peaked from her interest in reading combined with being a visual learner. 

Illustration of Kelcey Ervick.

“The distance between the first spark of wanting to write a book and the book being published was like 15 years,” Kelcey says. “I was starting to think in my 20s that I wanted to get more serious about writing. I started taking classes and reading a lot, and I was excited to be writing and thinking someone else might read it. Then I went to graduate school and met a lot of really talented people, published a couple stories in magazines and that’s where it all started for me.”

Ervick found that she could combine her love for writing with her interest in digital arts by creating graphic novels. She started taking classes at a local community college and researching graphic novels and memoirs until she felt confident to create her own. 

“My background is writing so I think it’s an interesting medium to create stories and images and text,” says Kelcey. “Reading graphic novels and graphic memoirs was really transformative to me in terms of what you can do with image and text. I kind of had to rewire my brain in the way of storytelling because I’m a visual thinker. I write a lot about history, and to me it’s really visual, so I want to show my readers.”

Learning to trust your instincts and believing in your capabilities is an acquired skill according to Kelcey, and it’s one that is required in order to follow your passions and achieve your goals. She believes that setbacks are learning opportunities and stepping stones for the next chapter in the story and true success comes from making your dream work according to you. 

“I find myself thinking about the way that students limit themselves for a variety of reasons because maybe people told them they are not very good at something at some point in their lives,” says Kelcey. “I just really want to tell people to give themselves permission to pursue the thing that they want to pursue. I think young people should follow their passions and tune into their hearts and bodies and do what they really want to do.”

Promotional photos of Kelcey Ervick.

To learn more about Kelcey’s books please visit her website: kelceyervick.com and make sure to stop by for her graphic novel reading on April 3, 2024 at 6 p.m. in Mueller Hall.