V.

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. It is my deepest, truest calling. The reason I haven’t yet reached success in that field is that, before now, I was not ready to tell the stories that needed me most. I realized this after an ambitious attempt, at 19, at writing a novel. I…

IV.

The reason I tried so hard in school was twofold. First, I needed to prove I was special, worthy, important—someone other than the sinful, overly passionate, loved yet deeply flawed, lesser-than [female] human I felt I was in my parents’ eyes and in the eyes of their religion. Also, it was my ticket out. After…

III.

I bought myself a computer. We had no internet, but we did have electricity. I hid my proscribed DVDs, which was all of them. My mother confiscated any she found. It was an ongoing arms race. I had to go to great lengths to sneakily wear makeup or pants or to go to a friend’s…

II.

I always read a lot and I did phenomenally well in school. I went to public school and was valedictorian of my class. However, it was a small rural school and the quality of the education was… uneven. We had no AP classes. We never took the SAT (we did take the ACT). Also my…

I.

I grew up on a farm in rural Illinois. I was born to parents deeply dedicated to a longstanding Anabaptist faith, similar to Mennonite or Amish. I did not grow up with media. No TV, movies, or recorded music. I am the oldest of seven children. My parents are very intelligent people who have lived…