Let’s see: I was an English major in college, which was actually a good thing! I have a lifelong love affair with books and a book as an object, not a digital ball of light or touch-screen smooth and swiped, or a website (though I do website design and ePub books that are editorially and content oriented and, I hope, beautiful).
I design books with pages that you turn in your hand, as opposed to a click of mouse; letterpress is the artform I most love–I often collaborate with an artist and select a poem and create a broadside (Galway Kinnel, Hayden Carruth, Jean Valentine, etc.) that I then sell to raise money for the Brattleboro Literary Festival, or in Hayden’s case, the ailing poet himself. I am a volunteer for this wonderful organization.
As far as being a writer, I write poetry when inspired, but don’t we all? I do have two published books, Living With Crohn’s & Colitis: A Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide for Complete Digestive Wellness, and just this past October, a cookbook entitled Cooking Well: IBS, Over 100 Easy Recipes for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Plus Other Digestive Diseases Including Crohn’s, Celiac, and Colitis.
I’m working on a collection of short fiction, and my dream is to write a longer novel someday. My day job is that if a book designer and literary agent. I love representing writers, and I am so lucky to have a fantastic group that came to my agency through serendipitous ways. A few of them are already published, in what is a growing genre of medical narrative, including Dr. Kimberly Allison (Red Sunshine), Kasey Mathews (Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life, and Motherhoodhttp://www.kaseymathews.com/), and the forthcoming David’s Inferno by David Blistein with a Foreword by Ken Burns. I have four more writers in the agency right now, and they are patient, talented, and I share their enthusiasm about publishing a book—someday!
It is a great feeling when the package arrives, and you wonder what could this be in a package from Kansas (seriously, that is what I thought!), or maybe it was Arksansas, but Kansas sounds better, having come of age with Dorothy and the rest of the yellow-brick-road-trio.
For the Crohn’s book, I was in my office in Brattleboro where I sat down and tore open the cardboard box—a small stack of books, wrapped in protective plastic, and I pulled the five of them out (a Caesarean section/giving birth comes to my mind!), and I sat on the floor surrounded by the detritus of packaging and I could not believe my good fortune—to be a writer!
Nowadays, I sometimes get emails from people who say the book helped them, or they find me through our book’s website (my co-author is a naturopathic doctor in Portland), and I drop everything and write them back and that’s really why I write: to communicate, connect, and hopefully, to help people who may not have an outlet. They may be sick, and want to read another’s story of struggle as a way to identify with them through a shared bond that involves reading words! Whether the words be prose, poetry or medical narrative (in the patient-perspective “gray boxes” in my book), or read on a Kindle, or an iPad, or a good old book: words are words, and as the poet Robert Frost wrote, “poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”