Writer, Yoga Teacher
Danielle Simone Brand writes articles and essays about parenting, cannabis, yoga, and relationships. Danielle has a completed memoir manuscript about her family's failed homesteading attempt in the Colorado Rockies, called A Good, Good Life, and is also working on a middle grade adventure novel. She holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MA from American University. Danielle enjoys the endless blue skies and urban canyons in her home of San Diego with her husband, two children, and a puppy named Pesach.
Danielle teaches yoga at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego: www.pilgrimageyoga.com
Please scroll down for more about Danielle's writing life.
The Writing Life
how did I get here again?
I read voraciously as a little girl in Honolulu—in cars and buses, at the dinner table, and even under my desk during dull moments at school. I announced that I would be a writer when I grew up—well, that or an archaeologist. I practiced by penning dreamy poems and (very) long stories with the themes of adventure and love that were well received by teachers, and moderately so by peers.
I wrote for a foreign language publication (in French) while in high school, then lived in France for my senior year. There, I found myself romantically inclined to write moody, descriptive letters about museums, literature and intense teenage feelings to family and friends back home. While I don’t know whether any of these letters survive, it might be fun (and horribly embarrassing) to revisit them one day.
At Dartmouth College, I wrote articles for a leftist paper while dabbling in—and ultimately feeling terrified by—creative writing classes. Of course, the requisite term papers, essays and whatnot were part of the deal of getting a bachelor’s, though I dreaded and procrastinated those just as much as the next undergrad.
After college, I got a dreary desk job at a dotcom (circa 2000, height of the Internet bubble) and, after a mere three months, decided that cubicle life was not for me. I quit and started freelance writing for the dotcom instead—a sweet gig that allowed me to join local events and meet business owners and artists, then write entertaining little columns about these jaunts and conversations. Alas, the bubble burst, and with it my sweet writing gig.
Traveling, I decided then, would help me figure out the direction of my life and possibly even find myself. So I took off with about $7K in the bank and a one-way ticket to Indonesia (though, on a minor technicality, that was illegal at the time). Over the next six months in Asia and Australia, I journaled in cafes for hours each day about the interwovenness of people and place, while ruminating about my own role in all of it. It was excellent practice, the first glimmers of later memoirist leanings.
Enter 9/11. Enter Familial Terror. Exit Travel.
Enter the love of my life and marriage, a cross-country move, and studying international politics during grad school in Washington, D.C. (Writing galore! None of it, unfortunately, all that interesting.)
Within a few more years, I pivoted away from academia toward teaching yoga and related wellness topics—where I felt my heart, mind and body come together in work at last. Still, the writing life pulled me and I was able to eke out a few freelance assignments for yoga-type pubs (while working my ass off teaching 15 classes a week at think tanks, lobbying organizations and American University). Here's a funny little book review from that era: http://alturl.com/t3icf
Soon, my husband and I had a condo in the DC area, a dog, and a baby. Though things appeared smooth on the surface, like a duck on a pond, I was paddling hard just to stay afloat; I rushed everywhere and worried constantly, feeling like I never did enough or was enough. Those days, I often wondered whether there ought to be more to life—a way to live my ethical, environmental and spiritual ideals instead of just talk about them. A way to give my son, and whatever other children were in our future, the kind of life he and they deserved.
So, I convinced my husband and my father to go along with a harebrained idea: 1) buy lots of land in northern Colorado, 2) move there to grow food, raise animals, get off the grid and do it all ourselves, and 3) live happily ever after. The whole thing was a nexus of optimism, naïveté and self-delusion.
What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, quite a lot. And it’s the subject of my memoir, A Good, Good Life: How Not to Homestead. Imagine forest fires, bear break-ins, innumerable crawling things and social isolation. Also, imagine a promising first harvest, bringing up baby chicks, and learning to slow down and appreciate the quietest, most beautiful moments.
It took me five years to write this story and then to shift and shape it into a manuscript. Now I’m seeking representation on the traditional publishing path, and hope very much that you’ll be able to read it soon.
Thanks for taking the time to read my “author backstory.”
I’d love to hear about your writing backstory, too! Namaste.