Literary Autobiography

I came to writing “late”, in my early thirties, though writing fiction had always been a dream, one which for years I shoved to the back of my mind and the bottom of my soul as something that was impractical and indulgent. Also something I’d probably not “succeed” at. Growing up, reading was my first love: Madeleine L’Engle, Judy Blume, Susan Cooper. Female characters struggling to find their place in the world⸺feeling isolated, sometimes lonely, somewhat out of place⸺this is what I loved to read and longed to write.

When I went to college, I felt I needed a degree in something practical (something to make money) and majored in economics. My electives were all English classes. I spent my first few years out of school as a derivatives trader and then, feeling like I wasn’t doing anything that was helping the world, went back to school and earned a Master of Public Policy. I married and moved to London with my husband and our infant son. We had two daughters. I stopped working. I read Rachel Cusk, Helen Simpson, Virginia Woolf, James Salter.

At a dinner with new acquaintances⸺not yet friends⸺the wife said to me: I’m thinking of taking a writing course, would you want to do it with me?

Would I? Yes.

We took two workshops together and started a writing group. I wrote thinly veiled fiction about the ex-pat world we lived in, the struggles of being a mother of young children, the isolation of being a “trailing spouse.” Writing became a way to retain sense of self now that I was no longer working, now that I was a mother.

We moved to Beijing and I formed a writing group with two other women.

We moved to Tokyo. I had another son. Throughout my pregnancy, I wrote.

In 2011, after the Tohoku earthquake and the subsequent nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, our family moved back to Chicago. I applied to the MFA program at Northwestern. By that point, I’d been writing (trying to write) for five years.

I am currently working on a novel. Floating is my first published short story.