I was born and raised in Franklin, Pennsylvania, near the birthplace of the commercial oil industry and in what is now part of the Rust Belt. Music was my main interest as I was growing up, and I left for college planning to become an orchestra player. A disastrous recital followed by a crippling bout of performance anxiety my freshman year at West Virginia University side-lined those plans, and I changed my major to English and linguistics. I earned a bachelor’s degree in 1981.
I started graduate school the following autumn at the University of Washington in Seattle. I began in the master’s program in linguistics, but changed to speech and hearing sciences after the first year. I earned a master’s degree in 1986. I found after a year-long residency at the VA hospital that I liked studying speech pathology far more than daily therapy, so I went back to the UW and took all the courses I could find in technical writing—I have never been afraid to change my mind. The writing part stuck—the technical part not so much—and I have been a writer or a teacher of writing ever since.
For the last thirty years, I have lived on twenty acres in northwestern Pennsylvania, during which time I have raised goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks and the occasional horse. I love all activities domestic, particularly those that fell out of fashion in recent decades: hand-spinning, weaving, dyeing with plant materials, cooking on a wood stove, canning and gathering firewood.
I have been very happy with my pioneer lifestyle, but it is time for a change. I would like to travel more, so I suspect the next decade will see me doing that and writing about it. That sunset is a ways off yet.