From Acting To Writing
There was a time, as a child, when I wore nothing but bonnets and flowered dresses. I wanted to live on a dirt road, collect eggs from barnyard chickens and walk to school with a tin lunch pail swinging from my arm.
Sadly, there were no chickens in my future. We never moved to a dirt road. Instead of a chicken coop, my mother got a computer.
It was a horrible thing that loomed from her desk, glowing and monstrous, a thing to destroy all fantasy, to make everything real and modern.
I pleaded with her to get rid of it, cried actual tears, and then curled on my bed with my well-worn copy of Little House On The Prairie.
I lived in books of the past, wanted, more than anything else, to actually be Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls.
So I grew up and became an actor.
Becoming a writer never occurred to me.
Writing was like having curly hair. It just sprang out of me. It was not something to become even though I’d kept a journal since I was eight, wrote poetry and short stories through elementary and high school and took all creative writing courses at Sarah Lawrence College before uprooting myself to Los Angeles to attend The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Eventually, I moved to New York City where an acting teacher gave me an assignment to write a monologue. After performing it, my teacher said it was the best piece of writing he’d ever had from a student.
Leaving class that sweltering Manhattan day, walking down into the subway, heat and urine wafting in my face, I felt a great, stunning freedom. I’d hated everything I’d auditioned for. Struggling actors don’t get Tennessee Williams they get Windex commercials.
I didn’t need an agent or casting director to give me permission to write. I didn’t need an ensemble. I didn’t need anyone. I could hole up, alone, no make-up, highlights or diets necessary, and write the stories I dreamt of performing. Stories I had strayed far away from.
Dramatically (I do love the dramatic), I chopped my hair short and threw every headshot and reel I owned into the garbage bin outside my Park Slope apartment, dragging it to the curb with spectacular satisfaction.
By the time the leaves in Prospect Park turned gold, I was enrolled at Brooklyn College, majoring in English, which felt like a coming home, back to the curly hair I’d flat-ironed the hell out of. It was in my nineteenth century English literature class where I started my first novel, historical fiction, another coming home, back to those bonnets.
Only now, after graduating, marrying, moving abroad, having a baby, moving home, having another baby, completing two novels, finding a exceptionally supportive NYC literary agent and landing my first book deal with St. Martin's Press: Macmillan, am I ready to drag myself to this modern contraption – a computer not nearly as monstrous as my mother’s once was, but in some ways just as intimidating – to say that I am a writer. I always have been, it just took me this long to realize it was actually a thing to be.