How I became a writer.
Why I Write
I have been writing since I was four. I remember writing stories on lined manila tablet paper. I would write the story and then draw a picture with the fat, round “first-grader” crayons—always very green grass and blue, blue sky, purple flowers and a brown house. I felt satisfied every time.
I continue to feel satisfaction when I’ve captured something on the page. It’s the way I cope with stress, observe life and figure out what I’m really thinking. Writing is an anchor for me. I write because I could not live without words.
Writing acts as a reminder for me. Often I go back to read the words I’ve formulated, and I think, “Oh, I forgot about that.” I hadn’t remembered I felt that or a certain thing happened on a certain day. It’s like finding the unexpected twenty in your pocket. The words are spendable—treasure. Or when I’m writing fiction, I’m often surprised where the characters I’ve created take me. I’m taken aback by how much I love them and want to find out what happens to them. Hear them.
I find pleasure in the details when I write. I have bits of paper in my purses and often when I’m digging for my lipstick find a sticky note with phrases I’ve scavenged such as: “like the cat bringing the mole to the doorstep,” or “moonlight wavering on the tidal creek.” Each time I find one it’s like opening a fortune cookie and I think, “Oh, yes, I wanted to use that phrase in the scene with…”
On a pre-dawn morning in late October 1977, I set out for southern California from Dallas, Texas where I was raised. I had just earned a B.S. in Journalism and English Literature from Texas A&M University/Commerce (the school was known as East Texas State University in 1977). I drove a new brown Camaro. I was 21.
I found my way across country to San Bernardino, California, near Los Angeles, to work as a writer for Campus Crusade for Christ. Each day I drove my new car from my apartment in the foothills up the mountain to Arrowhead Springs, a famous resort that Campus Crusade had bought and redesigned for their headquarters. Each day I sat at my electric typewriter and pecked out evangelistic feature stories for their magazine, Worldwide Challenge.
After three years, I met and married a brilliant writer and editor that I met at the magazine. We had two daughters and life took us all over the country—Oregon, back to California, Illinois and finally South Carolina. Through these years I was a homemaker, homeschooler and part-time student of psychology. Writing took a backseat, yet I really never stopped picking up the pen, as I journaled consistently—writing acting as a healing agent when my marriage unraveled and I was divorced in 1999.
I eventually married an Italian man I had met at age 17. But that’s another story—a book, actually—that brought me back to writing again when I decided to tell our story. (Read an excerpt of An Ocean Away under Books). Missing God, a novel, followed soon after, and explores grief, loss and addiction—linking that shadowy place to a more hopeful terrain of expectation and possibility for change.
My most recent title, On A Clear Blue Day, is a collection of 96 readings for contemplation and reflection that move through the seasons of the year. Each essay engages the reader with such topics as regret, intimacy, vulnerability and imperfection. I attempt to weave a divine thread through the quotidian.
Currently I live in Charleston, South Carolina with my Italian husband. My writing often reflects love of metaphor and the symbolism found in dreams—those parables in the night watches. My faith in God is foundational to my life—His grace my indelible refuge.