I was born in Stanford, California, and even though I moved across the country to New York when I was six years old, I still think of myself as a California girl.
When I was little, I pretended that I didn’t like to read, because my sister loved to read, and I wanted to be different. (I also pretended that I didn’t like pizza, because it was her favorite food, I still get sad when I think of all the delicious pizza dinners I missed out on.) By the time I was eight, it was too hard to pretend I didn’t like to read, because the truth was that reading was my favorite thing in the world. I loved it so much that when there was nothing to read, I wrote my own stories just to give myself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, I made up stories and acted them out by myself. I played all the parts, and I was never bored.
When I was eleven years old, I began going to a school in Manhattan called Spence. The teachers there were very supportive of my reading and writing. One teacher there encouraged me to read F. Scott Fitzgerald, and another introduced me to magical realism, and another tried to convince me that there was more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing. (She was right, of course.) And still another let me write a sequel to one of my favorite novels and call it a school project, even though I would have done in my spare time just for the fun of it.
After Spence, I went across town to Barnard College. Once again, I had some of the best teachers in the world encouraging me to write, and introducing me to new authors. One of my very favorite teachers told me to read Joan Didion (and I didn’t thank him enough for that), and my other favorite insisted that there was nothing more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing (and I argued with her a lot about that).
After college, I got a job working in an office where I wore high heels and blazers and even the occasional stiff-collared blouse. I thought I would write on the side, but after a while,I stopped writing altogether – for over a year, I didn’t write a word except in my journal, a very strange thing for a girl who wrote stories from pretty much the time that she learned how to hold a pen.
But then, when I was 24, I began working at a new job, and the people there introduced me to great new writers, just like the teachers I’d had in school. I began to miss writing. It was boring when I wasn’t making up stories to keep myself entertained. And so – slowly, just for the fun of it – I began writing again, and in a couple years I had written the story that would become
The Beautiful Between.
I still don’t write every day; sometimes I get caught up in other things, and sometimes I’d just rather park myself in front of the TV and watch reruns of The West Wing. But I always find my way back to my computer; I always remember just how much fun writing really is. And the great thing about writing – at least in my experience – is that it comes out best when you’re doing it for the very, very fun of it.