I was a scientist and environmental engineer and was convinced that I had absolutely no artistic ability. Then, one evening my husband Randy, who was out of town, called me. He told me about a book on drawing he was reading. He raved about an exercise he was doing based on drawing what you saw, not what you thought you saw.
I had a 4” x 5” Post-It notepad handy and started drawing the back of my left hand with a pencil. When Randy hung up, I looked at the drawing—it was, indeed, my hand, wrinkles and all. I was hooked!
While Randy worked out of town, I filled the lonely evenings with a variety of art classes. I find I enjoy working in oils and colored pencils, but my favorite medium is pastels.
Ever since I was itty bitty, I have loved to read. I wasn’t quite as enchanted with writing, but I was good at it and became very proficient in English, maybe partially because my mother had been an English teacher.
In school, I enjoyed classes involving writing, but it wasn’t until I began working that I did a lot more. I wrote a number of proposals, several for funding for scientific studies and one for a establishing a program for gifted/talented students, most of which accepted, that I began to enjoy writing. After I became a technical writer, then an environmental engineer, for Westinghouse, I wrote a lot more, particularly technical writing.
Years later, I quit my day job, which I hated—I was the co-owner of an environmental consulting firm and was tired of that feast or famine existence (i.e., having to write proposals constantly, even when I was working on a project that had been funded). I had decided to write a book about football for women because I had learned a lot about the game in order to make my marriage even better than it was. I wrote the book, then realized that I had become “too old” to be employable as an environmental engineer. Stupid, but true.
I got a job with the local board of Realtors(symbol) as their education coordinator. It wasn’t long before I realized that real-estate agents and other professionals involved in the buying and selling of homes were in panic mode because of the fear of mold: people were getting sick because of the incursion of mold into homes that had become water damaged. It occurred to me that, because of my background in science and engineering, I could prepare a course to help these people deal with the mold issue. I did, with the assistance of one of my instructors who taught a number of courses for the board.
After teaching a few such courses, it became apparent that we needed a book because we used about a million handouts, and each one had to be given to each student—which was my job. So I made a call to the publisher responsible for publishing all the books used by my instructors and was hired to write the book, The Truth About Mold, and an accompanying online course. The book and course are currently in their third editions.
Since then, I have taken a number of writing courses, particularly about fiction and speculative fiction, which I love doing. I am a member of a local writing group, Lost Echoes, Albuquerque Writers, and contributed a number of stories and memoirs to an anthology, Lost Echoes Found: an Anthology of Speculations and Memories. I edited the book.
For most of our marriage, we lived hand-to-mouth, from paycheck to paycheck. When I was going to graduate school working on my thesis, I looked into the possibility of becoming a certified thesis typist at Washington State University (WSU), where I was working on my degree, since I knew I couldn’t afford to hire a typist.
I talked to the thesis editor and took the test. At WSU at the time (I don’t know if it has changed), the thesis typist was required to not only type the final copy, but also edit the manuscript along the way to make sure everything was correct: grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Participles were not allowed to dangle, nor could infinitives be split.
I typed the final copies of well over 100 theses and dissertations at WSU, going through two IBM Selectric typewriters in the process. This job helped us financially and gave me an excellent background that has helped me for the rest of my career.
This experience set the stage for all my work. I automatically edit virtually everything I read. It helped me as a technical writer, as an engineer, and now, as a writer and member of a critique group.