At 20, I spent a semester abroad in England and it turned me upside down. I fell in love with waking up in the small city of Bath, blinking into the light from my bedroom window. I cherished my afternoons spent sitting on a bench in the Abbey Square with my knees pulled up, a book resting on the curve of my thighs, listening to the clipped accents of tour guides. My body felt different, lighter, as if I stepped on springs, as if the great knot of tense energy that had once existed in my chest was now unravelling.
By the time I returned to Boston four months later, I had made a decision: I wanted to live abroad again, and write about my experiences. But how could I make this happen?
I decided to apply for an MFA in creative nonfiction writing, and devoted three years to studying and practicing my craft. I spent my days writing about my time in England and began teaching writing for the first time. In those English Composition classrooms of West Virginia University, I discovered my other life’s passion. I loved discussing essays with my eclectic groups of students and working with them one-on-one on their personal essays. I learned how to help them reflect upon their lives and write meaningfully about their experiences, whether it be their obsession with fast cars or dealing with a chronic illness. After graduating, I moved to the Middle East to teach writing. There I met students from all over the Arab world, and learned that the power of story easily bridges cultural differences. I returned to the United States two years later, bursting to write about my experiences. My travel memoir, Abu Dhabi Days, Dubai Nights was published in 2012.
Now I live in Adelaide, Australia, still doing what I love: writing and working one-on-one with writing students. I’m happiest when I’m deep into a writing project, making meaning of my experiences, and working with students to do the same for their own lives. I want to share what I’ve learned from more than ten years of travel memoir and personal essay writing and teaching.
Writing From Near and Far is a community that goes deeper than just the what, where and how of travel writing, but explores the who and the why of memoir. I want to learn about the places you’ve travelled, and see them anew. I want to read the stories of where you’ve been and how you’ve changed. This site will help you write meaningfully about your travels, near and far.
When I’m not traveling the world and writing about my experiences, you’ll find me baking healthy treats for my family, shopping in second hand stores for that perfect antique trinket, and cycling along Adelaide’s picturesque bike trails.