Lori Wollerman Nelson

My crooked path to writing...



I didn't start out writing, although I have always been interested in words. In fact, I wanted to be a college professor, even when I wasn't exactly sure what that meant. I knew it had something to do with learning new things all of the time and that sounded like my kind of thing. 

I loved to learn about natural history, so biology seemed a logical choice. After completing a PhD on acoustic communication in frogs, I immediately transitioned to a position as a college professor. The job was interesting, grueling, rewarding, frustrating, and enlightening. I worked with great colleagues, students of all stripes, and lived in an interesting place. And I could go to the mountains and catch salamanders and frogs almost any time I wanted.

But I did wonder where my path could have gone, what else might be out there for me. I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to explain complicated ideas to other people. I loved the writing I did for my job. I put those two things together and knew that science writing was where I wanted to go.

But change can be difficult.

Life sometimes forces us to change and so it was with me. A mixed bag of events culminated in a job offer for my husband. On the opposite side of the country. On an island. So I left my life as a college professor and for five years my family and I lived on Catalina Island, twenty miles from the lights of Long Beach.


And I pursued my new life as a writer.

Today we live on the steppes of Eastern Washington, amid the apple trees and wineries of the Columbia Valley. I walk along the paths of Ice Age Floods. I think about life in the shrub-steppe, black-billed magpies, and the rhythmic life of rivers.

My path has not been linear.  My path has been difficult.  But along my path I rediscovered my love of writing. My love of figuring out exactly how to say what I want to say with the written word.