My writing career began with a prize-winning poem about horses in the fourth grade. It was the first and last good poem I ever wrote, but the experience changed me. I love books and always have – I cannot remember when I didn’t know how to read, and some of my earliest memories are of snuggling into my mom’s side, watching her finger slide along under the words as she read to my sister and I in her soft voice. Even then, I understood the power and magic of words to weave worlds out of air and transport us to them. That poem showed me I could wield that power. I have called myself a writer ever since.
Growing up, I enjoyed a golden childhood, the kind that ruins a writer for greatness. My mom and dad have been repeatedly chastised for limiting my prospects so thoroughly and lovingly. In the years following that fateful poem, I continued to write. I wrote about Samantha and her protective big brother surviving cougar attacks; I wrote terrible drivel about teenage angst, and one truly good piece about my twin sister being crowned homecoming queen. I wrote futuristic scenarios, won another prize or two, and headed to college determined NOT to be a writer. Not practical. Too dicey. Gotta make a living. It took me a few years of dithering around with other majors to grow out of that, and I graduated with a degree in English/Creative Writing, determined to be published before I was 30.
I wrote women’s fiction during my newlywed years, got a nibble here and there, became the mother of two lovely young men in quick succession, and was working on what I was sure would be my first sale when Autism came into my life. I put the book away, and threw myself into the world of above-and-beyond parenting that Autism demands. I wrote a great deal in the years that followed: letters to insurance companies, IEP goals and state complaints, woo hoo. I worked wherever the winds of chance took me, taught English in a high school for several years and loved it, but never, not once in all that time, stopped thinking of myself as a writer.
Now this is where it gets kind of weird. I didn’t actually choose to start writing again. A character named Naomi demanded it. I dreamed her, over and over, so vividly I would wake up confused about who and where I was. Over a period of several years, she visited just often enough that I couldn’t ignore her. A story began to form around her, other characters showed up, ideas and themes suggested themselves, and eventually I had enough raw, random material to form the basis of a novel, though I lacked the time to write it.
The opportunity to write showed up hand-in-hand with misfortune. In late 2011, my youngest son began to suffer from a mysterious and debilitating illness. In early 2012, I left my job to care for him full time. When I wasn’t frantically researching, and when my son felt well enough to go to school, I escaped into my novel, which incidentally doesn’t contain even one occurrence of the word “autism” or any of its derivatives. It took nearly two years and more blood tests, scopes and scans than I can count to get answers, but in August of 2013, we were finally on the healing path. My son was getting better, incrementally but surely, and I was set free to finish my book.
As excited as I am to finally and fully don my writer’s cape, being a mother has always and will always define the best part of me. My lovely sons, both young adults now, were joined by a “tiny pink empress” in 2006; my daughter is the delight of my days, and my toughest parenting challenge yet – she is destined to rule the world, I’m sure of it. When I’m not writing or “momming,” I love to read, hand-craft, and enjoy the many gorgeous hiking trails the stunning state of Colorado offers. I share my life with a tremendous man, who loves my children as his own and provides a rock-steady base for me to create from. He makes me laugh every day, won’t tolerate even the best of excuses for not writing, and only occasionally drives me to plot his fictional demise. I love animals, dogs in general and one cat in particular, and I never outgrew my little-girl obsession with/adoration of/ fascination with horses. In fact, if you supply me with the appropriate adult beverage, I can still recite that poem for you.