If life experience is the best preparation for a writer, I began with some definite advantages. For a spell my family moved every year so I attended nursery school, kindergarten, first, second, and third grades in different cities. I went to public school when many families in my neighborhood pulled their children out—white flight. Briefly, I attended a girls’ Sacred Heart Catholic school (I loved wearing a uniform and all the rituals), although my parents were Quaker and Episcopal.
After graduating from Oberlin College and touring the country in an old yellow school bus with a dance troupe, I married a rock musician/writer. We lived in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Maine before settling in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I’ve been everything from a professional dancer to a licensed massage therapist. I’ve worked as a community organizer in Hollywood, CA, a grocery clerk, a dog walker, a gardener, and an arts administrator. Years back, I even did some ghost-writing for my husband, when he was an overworked freelance copywriter.
And I’ve always kept journals. In my early thirties, my first child died in infancy and I developed a life-threatening digestive disease. Let me just say that I have been forced to face some serious and life-altering challenges.
Such a crazy-quilt background would count against me in some professions. I’ve come to understand it’s the perfect preparation for a writer. About the time I became a young mother, I launched my freelance writing career. Before long, I had regular newspaper columns, national magazine work, and a book.
I was also program director at the North Carolina Writer’s Network, one of the largest service organizations in the country for writers. And I began teaching writing. I attended but wasn’t able to finish, because of the demands on my schedule, an excellent Master’s program at Goddard College in Transformative Language Arts.
After teaching creative nonfiction all over the country and in Europe and the Middle East, I now focus more on reflective and restorative writing workshops–writing as a tool for self-awareness and healing–in medical centers, faith communities, civic centers, and schools. I also work one-on-one with several writers as a coach and editor and am proud of the many books my clients have produced.