Social worker + writer: an explanation

The short version:

       I was a journalist, author and university writing professor before becoming a full time grad student at the Boston College School of Social Work last year. I’ll earn an MSW degree in macro social work, with a specialization in child welfare, in 2018.

The long version:

       I wanted to be a social worker before I wanted to be a writer. But I got sidetracked. Now I want to be both.

       I wrote my first book, Go Play With Your Toys, in second grade, in crayon on construction paper. It was the only work of fiction the teacher submitted to a contest, and though it lost, it launched me on a life-long publication-rejection cycle. After stints writing for my mimeographed high school newspaper and for Syracuse University’s The Daily Orange, I started working for community weekly newspapers, which led to alternative weeklies, which led to dailies. At The Providence Journal and Gannet’s The Courier News I wrote features unless something blew up or a war began.

Between newspaper gigs, I got an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at Goucher College, which gave me the kick in the ass I needed to start writing books. I’ve written three since second grade. Sleepless Days: One Woman’s Journey Through Postpartum Depression was the first American memoir of PPD. Goodbye Wifes and Daughters, a nonfiction narrative of a 1943 coal mine disaster, won a Montana Book Award, the High Plains Literary Best Woman Writer Award, an Independent Publisher’s Book Awards gold medal for best nonfiction, and a Western Writers of America Contemporary Nonfiction Finalist Award.

      You Saved Me, Too, a memoir of my 14-year friendship with a Holocaust survivor, took me by the shoulders and turned me toward social work. Though, actually, I’d been looking in that direction for years during volunteer gigs in child welfare and criminal justice. When I finally recognized that those volunteer days energized me more than the jobs I was getting paid for, I applied to grad school.

My work has been published in magazines and newspapers including:
The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Huffington Post, BrainChild, The Dallas Morning News, Utne Reader, Montana Quarterly, The Writer, Boston Magazine, Natural Health; and Parents. I have been nominated for a few Pushcart Prizes, and had an essay listed in Best American Essays.

I taught creative nonfiction writing at Brown University for six years. I have a Magazine Journalism degree from Syracuse’s Newhouse School for Public Communications. Clearly, I have a thing for college.