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Every Life is a Story

Even though I’ve lived half my life in North Dakota and recently in the Southwest, I still call myself a Southerner. I think that comes from a heritage of blood more than place since I feel a kin-ness with the hardy mountain survivors of Appalachia.

And, to some extent I have found that in North Dakota among people who embrace a strong work ethic and who never seem to be very far from the wheat and potato fields that feed them and the world. In my new home New Mexico, I see that pioneer spirit as well. Here it is surviving the high desert and eking out a living in remote places.

I do, however, come from a long line of storytellers and liars, especially one uncle who couldn’t read or write himself but who kept me spellbound as a child with his elaborate tales of hunting, fishing, and local haints. I think what talent I have for spinning a tale must have come from him.

I was lucky enough to have a mother who valued education, despite only completing the third grade herself. She wanted her children to know about symphonies and opera and live theater–and valued poets as if they walked on misty clouds of arcane knowledge. I was one of a wagon load of cousins who ever finished high school and the only one to finish college—though I didn’t do that until I was seeing the end of my fourth decade.

I earned a degree in anthropology from the University of North Dakota and took a concentration in English (mainly credits for all of the intro English courses I took when I first started college in night school twenty-some years before and taking graduate level writing seminars when I returned to finish my undergrad degree in anthropology).

Anthropology was my second love to writing and represented the unquenchable curiosity I possess that often informs my freelance journalism career, explaining the broadness of my writing credits.

I had always written stories – from as young as nine or ten years old. I took a creative writing course when I was a junior in high school and had an instructor who wanted to see us published. So, I sold my first work at 16–but it wasn’t fiction; it was an essay and later I had two poems published.

I wrote off and on for the next forty years, after I married, moved to North Dakota, and raised two children. I wrote and edited a lot of newsletters for non-profit organizations, tutored adults in writing skills, and wrote and edited materials for college professors (before I had even earned my degree).

In the interim, I was a radio announcer, a booking agent and publicist for a groove/funk band, and a yoga instructor who also taught relaxation techniques in small rural towns in the region.

In January 2011, after a divorce and wandering the Southwest, I relocated to  Las Cruces, New Mexico where I’m currently writing and helping others on their editorial journeys.

I just wonder what my uncle would say now about my storytelling?

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