Visiting Uncle Horace in North Carolina, who named two calves after my sister Emily and me.
Patricia in Baird Tartan singing with ex-husband, Lorre Wyatt, and others at the Highland Games in North Carolina
Patricia and son Ben at age 3
Living off-grid in community in New York
The joy of grandsons Jacob, Nathaniel--and little Lucas
I feel my life began when our family moved to Cape Cod. I was six and the Cape was still a wild uncrowded place back in the 50s. My sister and I walked a mile to the school bus every day and became seasoned woods, beach and bog wanderers with burrs and sand in our hair and ripped-knee jeans. This fearless love of exploring nature will always be with us.
Later we moved inland to a small Massachusetts town but continued to spend time on the Cape. We spent every moment outside climbing trees and playing, got a horse and I began my lifelong love of gardening. I spent long hours in my room reading, writing stories and drawing pictures to illustrate them. Maybe I owe my early love of books and writing to a little go-fish type card game called Authors. It had colored pictures of well-known writers with lists of their books. While my friends went bezerk over the latest rock star, I was mooning over Nathaniel Hawthorne and reading The Scarlet Letter.
I devoured the Diary of Anne Frank, realized that writing could change the world and began to keep a journal, a practice that would last for half a century. At sixteen I began a novel, and wrote a long pitifully romantic narrative poem about a boy in the coalmines of West Virginia and the girl who loved him. My English teacher entered it in the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Writing Contest. It was a heady day when I learned that I was one of the Massachusetts state winners!
In college my budding writing career came to a halt and I became an art major. When I bid academia goodbye in graduate school, I knew I needed to experience life, both inner and outer, before I had anything to say. Thus began adventures, world travels, marriage, motherhood and a long list of unusual careers. My path was not destined to be a straight shot, but multiple delicious side trips feeding into a constantly deepening center.
I came home to fiction in my 40s. Various writing courses and a women's writing group helped me find the courage to begin a young adult novel, The Sabbath Garden. I was a single mother and scrambling to make enough to survive without getting bogged down in the 9-5. I got up early each morning to write and within two years had a completed manuscript. An old friend suggested I send it to an agent he knew and I was on my way.
The agent had logged several rejections when I remembered a piece of paper stowed away in my files. Years before, when flipping through The Writer magazine, I had chanced to see a classified ad from an editor looking for young adult multicultural books with a larger purpose. I tore my files apart looking for that little note and when I found it, called my agent. She sent the book to the editor, and within a week it was accepted by Dutton Books, a division of Penguin USA! (See Publications for more about The Sabbath Garden.)
After the excitement of realizing my childhood dream, why didn’t I keep on writing and publishing? Maybe it was lack of confidence, or the interesting pull of creating an intentional community. I went on two life-changing six-month writing retreats deep in the New Hampshire woods and got a good start on a new adult novel. I kept journaling, wrote memoir and short stories, moved to upstate New York to live off-grid. In New York I helped start a writers group and finished the adult novel, which brought interest from agents, but no actual bites. Once I find an agent for The Paradise Bird, I will be returning to this novel about an ordinary man who changes his life and joins an intentional community dedicated to creating change in the world facing a gas pipeline proposed for their land.
Five years ago I settled back in New England, this time in the wilds of New Hampshire's Upper Valley with my new partner. I started taking courses at the nearby Writers Center and sent out short stories and essays, which got published. At present I am excited to be finished writing an historical novel. (See the New Books page.)
Sometimes the path is circuitous and life has tempting byways with rich experience and interesting lessons waiting, but now with no regrets, I am finally ready to straighten the path and be on my way!