I have been thinking in words since words were introduced to me in print. The flavor and texture of words has always tantalized me. I breathe words in, and expel fully-written sentences. But not until a teacher told me I was a writer did I begin to think about my power.

I wrote a story that won an award in 4th grade, and that’s when I started to realize that I had a superpower: I could string words together in ways that made other people think things and feel things. I could create with words, and other people saw that creation–not on the page, but in their own mind! I could make people imagine things simply by putting words together in the right order. 

The interesting thing is, even with the ability to create for others, I did not write for others. I spent years honing my talents for myself. I took refuge in my characters’ pains. I hid myself among their dialogues and descriptions. I buried myself in their politics, and explored myself in their interactions. And after writing literally dozens of works–and after years of trauma-informed therapy–I am finally ready to share my writing with a critical audience.

So… Here’s me in a nutshell: I was the oldest daughter in a big, broken family. I was abused, neglected, and parentized at a young age. While my parents were “doing the best we can” I was being groomed and trafficked. I was indoctrinated in a mainstream religion that I now realize is a Christian cult (based on Steven Hassan’s BITE Model of Authoritarian Control). I used writing and world-building as a coping mechanism to get me into adulthood. 

I put myself through school, graduated with a degree in Elementary Education, and started teaching young children. I love to teach writing; it is truly one of my greatest joys. As an adult, however, I was able to realize that my writing could not take the place of a mental health professional, and so I went to therapy.

While in therapy, I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Writing was what kept me connected to so many of my diverse parts of self, and what has lent so much to our healing journey. We found a loving partner and got married. We got a dog to prove we are actually crazy. 

Now, I am writing with the intention of having readers read my work. My stories use fictionalized settings with fictional characters to deal with the themes of my life: cults, indoctrination, love, finding belonging, slavery, abuse, grief, feminism, and resilience.

Follow Me!

My current life is played out in three acts. Act I is my home and family. Act II is my job. Act III is the world inside my brain.

Act I:

I married my best friend–something I highly recommend: if you’re going to marry, marry your best friend!–the summer after we started dating. Amber is everything generous and beautiful. She filled my life with hope and offered me the compassion and stability I had always lacked. She believes in me like no one ever has. She encourages me to do brave things, like get an editor and make my writing public. And amazing things, like explore the redwood forests and west coast beaches. And crazy things, like get a puppy. That last one is especially controversial, because puppies are insane. And even though we have taught our dog tricks to a lot of wizarding spells, and named her Potion, there’s no magic that cleans up after this canine. 

When I am home and with my family, I settle into rhythms of sweetness and contentment. 

End Scene

Act II:

I am an educator. I got my first teaching job in a Preschool, where I learned I was not a great teacher. That encouraged me to get an education. I started in a certification program for Early Childhood Education. My love for teaching and for learning led me to get a job in a private elementary school. As a second grade teacher, I realized I knew nothing about teaching reading or math, so I went back to school. This time, I got myself an Elementary Education degree. I went to work in the public sector. It was rewarding and eye-opening. 

Teaching is exhausting. I’ve been at it for 18 years. I can say without hesitation that the education system is broken. It’s destructive for educators, and soul-sucking for children. While I desperately fight the good fight in my classroom, I know I cannot teach forever. But today, I’m still doing this.

End Scene

Act III:

Probably the most bizarre and turbulent part of my life is going on inside my own mind. Putting aside the fact that I have Dissociative Identity Disorder (which is hilarious, since that never can be set aside), my brain plays host to literally thousands of characters, and hundreds of worlds. They converse with each other, and with me. As I write one book, three other stories nag for my attention. As I converse with one character, five others complain I am neglecting them. And new worlds and characters hatch all the time! In the other two acts of my life, the slightest breeze or the merest glance can cause an eruption of new characters and stories inside my mind. I carry a writer’s notebook with me most of the time, because Act III of my life is a scene that never ends.

"I have been thinking in words since words were introduced to me in print. The flavor and texture of words has always tantalized me. I breathe words in, and expel fully-written sentences."

-Nichole M. Willden