Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Long and Exhausting Biography

Writing History

I started reading at four years old before I even had the alphabet down and as a teenager, I would read anything put before me, even the Encyclopedia. I loved reading enough that in school I used to fake sick so I could stay home in the quiet house and finish a book I was really into. (Thanks, Mom, for pretending you didn’t know I was lying!)

At an early age I began telling stories, but almost strictly to myself. Stories were my way of overcoming the terrible nightmares I used to get (and still get!). I would either think up a different story and drift back to sleep or I’d at least change the nightmare to a happy ending. I still find myself doing that sometimes. It’s a weird thing about me I know, but I really have gotten some good story ideas that way.

I tried out writing novels at about twelve, most of which were very cliché and suffocating under past participle overload. I don’t know that the ones that I have kept will ever escape the locked trunk in my garage. By fourteen I decided I was no good, writing was not a valid career path, and I turned to biology and the sciences exclusively.

But really my mind could not give up on novel writing. In college I never intended on double majoring in English, but I took so many English classes “just for fun” that I very nearly did. Then I gave up reading fiction and writing anything but technical papers by the time I reached graduate school and began work on an M.S. in Wildlife and Range Ecology. I loved studying wildlife and ecology and felt like I’d reached my true calling—helping the creatures we shared the world with. And it wasn’t until I was working on my Ph.D. that I realized what I maybe had to say to readers about the natural world around them would help animals and their habitats even more than being a biologist. Immediately my brain began developing dozens of story ideas once again, stories that would not be silenced and demanded paper immediately. It was as if an internal light switched on once again and I wanted--had to--write stories again. Either that or lose my sanity. I was also at a crossroads in my life, and I dove into writing with only my nose plugged. I relearned everything I could about creative writing and set to work.

Now my writing draws on both sides of my intellect: the creative side and the scientific/analytical side (which those little tests show that I use equally, if not efficiently). Some people ask me if my years of education were wasted and I laugh (though really I’m angry) because I live suspended in two different worlds--science and art and oddly enough, they haven't ever felt at odds.

Personal History

I grew up the oldest of five children. You can tell I’m the oldest because I’m very bossy and quite a busy-body. I like to know what’s going on in people’s lives and generally I love to dish out advice, albeit the advice isn’t always rational. I think my mother stayed sane throughout those years raising us and she and my father did a wonderful job—we’re all still friends at least—and that says something.



I was born in New Mexico, raised in Colorado, schooled in Utah, and am raising my family in Arizona. So except for a brief year I lived in Florida at seven years old, I’m a true Four Corner’s states girl (Is that really a description? Let’s pretend that it is…). So here I am—a blood-bred mountain girl and an adopted desert rat. I love the diversity that exists out in the West US and when I’m not writing, my husband, two children, and I are playing outdoors.

4 comments:

  1. you are amazing! It was great to read this and learn more about you!

    I will be first in line to buy your book!

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  2. That's so exciting! I didn't know that you were so into English :) I'm excited to read some of your writings! I was also checking your family blog and it sounds like the writer's convention thing in utah was a lot of fun! So how close do you feel to publishing your first novel? You should know that Jon and I expect an advanced copy :)

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  3. I just LOVE learning how authors get to where they are at! Such a wonderful path to your beautiful self!! :)

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  4. Have we discussed I'm originally from ABQ and am moving home this summer?

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