At base, I am semi-feral. My parents pioneered on top to a mountain in the central Sierra foothills of California, on property I still occupy with my husband, David Roberson. I spent the first eight months of life in an 8 x 12 miner’s cabin with no electricity or running water. My mother hung blankets over cracks in the walls, to keep snow from blowing into the dresser drawer that served as my crib. I was reared on wild nature and books. Nature taught me to observe carefully and to proceed through the world with both caution and awe. Books brought the entire rest of the world to our remote mountaintop. No educational institution I have ever encountered (and I’ve spent twenty-seven years in them, in all) has ever come close to equaling that early learning experience.
As a young woman I lived life as a cornucopia. I collected bird nests, stones and seashells, ran Olympic qualifying times in track, danced ballet, rode fast horses and drove fast cars, went on long road trips with friends, traveled to foreign countries, gardened, rafted wild rivers, marched in war protests, collected antiques, spun wool and wove on a 4-harness loom, played classical piano, rodeoed, surrounded myself with rescued animals, mountain climbed, painted in oils, canned fruits and vegetables from my gardens and made jellies from wildflowers, designed and sewed my own clothing, built drystone walls, sculpted in bronze and marble, was a crack shot with both long gun and handgun, and through it all, wrote. I started at age five and never stopped—poetry, short stories, nonfiction and fiction.
Professionally, I have pulled green chain and been an off bearer, bucker and gang sawyer at a sawmill, harvested bird of paradise plants, drawn blood from newborns and premies, some weighing less than a pound, as a phlebotomist. I worked as a victim’s advocate for the District Attorney, had my own practice as a Certified Massage Therapist, ran dream groups, taught creative writing at a men’s prison, sold my paintings and collages, lectured at various conferences on depth psychology’s interface with the prison culture, was the opening speaker at the 2000 International Conference on Archetypal Psychology, published poetry and nonfiction sporadically, taught at the local community college and as a university art professor. And I wrote.
Educationally, I have a BA in English with a minor in Biological Sciences, an MA in art and writing, and a PhD in depth psychology. And there were other kinds of education: a divorce, helping both parents die, a life-threatening automobile accident and subsequent years of recovery, thorough reading of the Collected Works of C.G. Jung, a smorgasbord of metaphysical experiences, almost bleeding to death following a routine medical procedure, losing friendships, gaining others, remarrying happily, more travel. More writing.
I used to view all the foregoing as a sure sign that I was clueless about my own authentic path in life. Now, I realize that I was relentlessly gathering information and forming viewpoints and opinions that would underpin the stories that were beginning to percolate in my brain. It is possible, I suppose, to write without benefit of a thorough education in, and pummeling by, the world, but it certainly would not be my style. Now, I have authored six complete books, including an artist’s book based on the myth of Isis and Osiris, my 600-page doctoral dissertation based on the myth of Persephone, an unpublished first novel, Owl Women, and three published novels, Commune of Women, Fiesta of Smoke and Well In Time. Four more novels are in various stages of development. I think I have finally found my niche.
Don’t get me wrong: I still love to dance and to drive fast. I travel every chance I get. I’m out in nature every single day, no matter what the weather. But while I’m out there, I’m planning and plotting. My books are growing through contact with the wild, just like I did.