How can one person write such very different books? One is a straightforward, practical guide to performing a service for your community, and the other is a biographical examination of a mystic in history. On reflection, I've embraced both writing and spiritual studies from an early age -- starting perhaps by walking alone, at the age of eight (with my family's apartment key on a string around my neck), to the Green Street library and also to a nearby church in the Cow Hollow area of San Francisco. The library loaned me eight books a week, and the open door at Saint Bridget's gave me a chance to sit in silence and watch the light through stained glass windows. I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with an English major and a minor in World Religions.
On the writing path, I began as a poet (working as a barista, waitress, cook), reading my poems in libraries, bars, and on the radio, and traveling as much as I could on a microscopic budget. Later I entered the world of trade magazines as a proofreader and an assistant editor. Then I grew a rewarding career in book editorial, web writing, copywriting, and leadership communications. For many years I wrote in the voice of the company, or the voice of the boss. Sometimes I wondered if I had a voice of my own.
All that time, I was a seeker: informally studying Christianity (especially the mystics), elementary Judaism and some Sufi writings, sitting with the Society of Friends and meditating with California Zen Buddhists. I studied yoga, including a semester of Ayurveda (nature- and nutrition-based healing) in a Kriya Yoga seminary. I was ordained as a nondenominational, interfaith minister in 2002 and officiated at more than a hundred weddings before I wrote The Wedding Officiant's Guide.
I began to dream that I was dying before ever having written a whole book in my own voice. Resisting the lure of higher pay for more stressful work, I listened to those dreams and enrolled in writing classes at San Jose State University. During seven years of studying for an MFA in Creative Writing, I finally allowed the artistic and spiritual parts of my life to collaborate and intertwine. The Wedding Officiant's Guide was written during that time, and an early draft of Helen and the Masters served as my thesis. I also began to collage and paint.
My essays and poetry have appeared in Catamaran Literary Reader, Reed Magazine, Caesura, and About Place Journal. I'm presently developing a creativity and wellness coaching practice, while continuing to write.
This page was updated in April, 2021. Photo by Debra Carpenter, design by Jenny Clendenen.
I love giving author readings (solo and group) and presenting on panels!
Contact Information email: lisafrancescawriter (at) gmail.com