It all began when I graduated from kindergarten. Heady with my newfound maturity, I made a beeline for my hometown library, applied for my first library card and began devouring words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books, genres and oeuvres. By the time I'd entered fifth grade, my best friend Debby had dispensed with my real name and saddled me with the alliterative (albeit unwieldy) moniker, "woman of words."

In college, all of the words I'd absorbed from books came tumbling back out. I wrote my way to a bachelor of arts degree in rhetoric (narrative and expository prose). Graduation day nudged me out of the ivory tower into the real world, where I bumped around a bit and met that scary fanged creature known to all struggling creatives as “the wolf at the door.” I conjured up more words and the wolf stopped hanging around in the vestibule of my life.

Words still delight me. I love the way they jostle and elbow each other on bad days and fall into line and hum a happy tune on good days. Click here if you'd like to see some >

...and pictures

At the age of seven, I picked up what I fancied to be my first camera, a marvelously constructed contraption called a box purse.

My first camera

My first camera

Scavenged from my mother's closet, it had a tooled leather exterior, handsome brass hinges and a U-shaped handle that doubled as a viewfinder.

While it is true that my purse lacked some of the basic necessities for image capture (such as a lens and a shutter button), I came up with what I considered to be an acceptable workaround: I'd draw pictures of my would-be subjects in advance and stash them inside.

After meals at my grandparents' home in New York, where we spent many a summer, I'd circle the massive mahogany table in the dining room, camera in hand, as my aunts and uncles lingered over coffee and rugelach. "Snap, snap," I'd say as I closed in on my subjects.  If no one responded, I'd say it again, just a hair more assertively: "Snap, snap" — until one of the grownups flashed a distracted smile in my direction. Then I'd depress the imaginary shutter, fling open the top of the purse, pull out the pre-drawn portrait and hand it over with a flourish. 

I have a different camera now. It takes real pictures. Click here if you'd like to see some >