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Passion. Experience. Diligence.

 Photo by Claire Stock

Photo by Claire Stock

This is me: Extroverted, curious and eclectic.

I’ve been telling stories in one way or another since I was four. It all started in Columbus, Ohio on our family’s big old sea-green upright piano. I’d pound storm clouds in the low notes and rumble them into thunder, while rains pelted around Middle C and lightning slashed the high end. Or sometimes, a little girl just like me skipped up the black keys through the forest, birds trilling through her fingers.

Before I knew how to write script, I pretended I could. Then, when I was about ten, my mother handed me Anne Frank’s diary and I started keeping one, myself. That got me writing short stories and plays; and poems soon followed, well into adulthood. Many I read in front of people in bars and bookstores in Bellingham, Seattle, Victoria and Portland. And some got published. 

Poetry, fiction and nonfiction have always informed my freelance writing. Film, too. Words love to explore drama, plot, imagery, metaphor, rhyme, tone, rhythm and music, no matter where they go, transporting meaning, mood and message. Along the way, there are no boring subjects. One of my first freelance assignments, for a national trade magazine, was to describe the toothpaste displays in five Seattle grocery stores. Yes, really. I turned it into an exciting travel piece.

My favorite gigs take me into whole new worlds. Like the times I learned all about the history of the double bass, the microbes wiggling around in our bellies, the scary fates of African lions and Antarctic ice, and the best way to break a bad habit. And I've interviewed people from all walks of life—from famous photographer Mary Ellen Mark and flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia to surgeons and chefs, top CEOs and mom-and-pop-store owners, former homeless drug addicts and wealthy philanthropists, prominent Buddhist teachers and even a boxing ring girl. 

Everyone has a story to tell. I've always had a listening ear—early on as a candy striper talking with patients, as a nurse's aid in a nursing home and on long, cross-country Amtrak trips. While at Fairhaven College majoring in Community Service and the Arts (psychology and art, basically) and right after getting my B.A., it was the halfway house residents showing me their poems, the Upward Bound teens on the Lummi and Nooksack reservations confiding in me about their boyfriends, and the Head Start children of Mexican migrant farmworkers I painted watercolors with who taught me as much about writing as any class I took. My times with them filled my journals. So did my solo wanderings for a month all over Italy and again in Spain, years later.

I can see now how everything I'd done, from working as a counselor, an administrative assistant and a communications coordinator to traveling, writing poems and making art, had led me to my true calling, back in 1990. My freelance writing business feeds my curiosity, stretches my intellect and deepens my connection to myself and others. All this in turn enhances my research and interviewing skills, and strengthens my writing. 

Whether it's an article on a heart-attack survivor and his robotic surgery, a donor-impact story for a philanthropic foundation's blog, a profile of an award-winning photographer or a scientist's grant proposal that I've polished up, what matters most to me about my writing is that it does some kind of good in the world. 

But look. I can't sit at this computer all the time. There are dinners with friends, lectures, networking groups, volunteering on a photo gallery's exhibition committee, knocking around town, biking, hiking in the woods, and two to three books going at once. And give me music anytime, preferably live, with a flamenco guitar, sitar, cello, sax or banjo. 

Oh, and a piano, too. I still play.