A lot of writers start these intros by saying they’ve been passionate about writing forever, penning stories since they were little. And I did author one serialized ghost story in the sixth grade, passing new chapters scrawled in my black-and-white composition notebook off to fellow classmates and even my teacher (who had no idea I was writing most of it under my desk during science and math.) But writing was never really a part of my life again until college.
I had room for an elective to put towards my English major and jumped at the chance to take Intro to Creative Writing. I started writing mediocre short stories about girls with missing fathers they still loved, abandoning mothers they never knew, and rollercoaster romantic relationships. I gave my leading ladies cool names with “main-character energy,” like Lou, Leila, Lyra, and Jo. And many of them smoked cigarettes, though I had never touched nicotine. I wanted them to be edgier.
But it was all a fraud. Every one of my characters could have easily been named Heather, letting myself bleed onto the page more honestly. My stories got decent feedback, but nothing remarkable. Then, I wrote an essay about my father—who, at that point, I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years—and it was selected for publication in my college’s literary magazine. Several of my professors read it and told me that while my fiction was “good,” my non-fiction was better; I needed to tell my story.
I switched gears entirely, writing openly about a past I’d pushed deep, deep down to make room for the “normal” self I was trying to build at my elite undergraduate institution. I began writing about being born in a jail to a meth-addicted mother, spending years as the subject of an intense custody battle, visiting my dad in prison, and missing him all the time.
The next summer, I interned in criminal court in Manhattan because I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. Court was riveting, but most days I sat impatiently in those pew-like benches, eager to later splay out on a blanket in Washington Square Park with my notebook and a pen. I longed to be like Eileen Myles in Chelsea Girls or Patti Smith in Just Kids: cool, edgy, and pursuing an artistic dream. That summer, I decided that I wanted to be a writer and live in New York.
After graduating in 2019, I landed a sales job at an early-stage tech startup, reckoning it would be a stable way to sustain myself in my dream city. I traded Washington Square Park for Washington Heights.
A couple of years, a few small publications, and several Catapult (RIP) workshops later, I ended up at The New School, where I continued writing my own story and completed my MFA in Creative Non-Fiction in 2023. Still working at the tech startup, I’m finishing my memoir manuscript in my free time. Having recently served as a Non-Fiction Editor at LIT Magazine, I’ve fallen in love with the editorial side of the writing world too, and am so grateful for this opportunity to keep growing my editorial skillset at Sundress Publications.
Heather Domenicis (she/her) is an Upper Manhattan based writer and editor moonlighting at a tech startup. She holds an MFA from The New School in Creative Non-Fiction and her words appear in Hobart, JAKE, and [sub]liminal. Born in a jail, she is writing a memoir about all that comes with that. She sometimes tweets @heatherlynnd11.