In the third grade, I became infatuated with reading and writing, in part from discovering The Little House in the Big Woods series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Regular people could write about their own lives—someday I would write about mine.

        My well-read 1973 copy.

Academically, I thrived in school even as I daydreamed, bit my nails, and doodled on papers. The structure, the clarity of expectations, and the talented teachers all contributed to my success. And my initial career path—I would be a teacher.

I started college with the goal of becoming an elementary school teacher, and then switched to English teacher, but I did not have the necessary enthusiasm for teaching. I wanted to write. The last two of the eight years it took me to get my BA, I switched to a university with a writing program and focused on fiction.

After graduation, thanks to my husband, I got my dream job—stay-at-home mom. Kids, and plenty of time, in theory, to write. Yet I couldn’t figure out how to carve out time for my writing, and my distractable mind and restless body didn’t help. Not only did I struggle to write but daily life became increasingly difficult to navigate.

A diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at the age of thirty-six brought relief and understanding. Books, my dependable solace, became a source of information for my mental disorder. Medication helped. But still I struggled to write.

In 2015, I started writing memoir. I wrote to understand myself.

It’s hard to ask for help. Help to figure out your crazy brain. Help to get through the day. Help to be a better writer. In 2018, at fifty-three, I returned to the institution that first fostered my love of reading and writing: school. I was accepted in the Rainier Writing Workshop, a three-year low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.

For almost three years, RWW has provided not only a creative writing education, but the external structure, accountability, and encouragement I needed. During those years, the focus of my writing has shifted—I’m now writing to understand my Armenian family’s life in Turkey and the Armenian Genocide.

I’ve completed two manuscripts in support of my MFA degree. My critical paper explores how authors write into silence, the private silence of untold stories and the public silence of suppressed stories. In my creative thesis, a hybrid memoir, family photographs, primary documents, and historical fact intersect with memories and speculation to create a personal story within the larger public archive. I will receive my MFA in Creative Writing in August 2021.


Mountain Lake