Vicki Lathom of Annapolis, Maryland has been a writer and sailor for 40 years.
Many thanks to Vicki for allowing me to publish this account of her Writer’s
Muse experience. ~ Milli
I’ve been writing for 40 years: majored in journalism, was a public information officer for local government for 20 years, wrote speeches for a governor for 15 years and am now teaching writing in two graduate schools at the University of Maryland. However, deep down, I never really considered myself a writer. It was an identity I didn’t own.
I’ve always written to product; that is, I have a deadline for an article, a press release, a speech . . . or, God help me, a memo. I’ve always thought that writing was a set process of establishing a production schedule: do the research, do the outline, do the draft, put it in the drawer, and then revise, revise, revise.
Fiction, or making something up and not just reporting, seemed impossible. I kept telling Milli, I can’t write what I can’t see and I can’t see imaginary people and events. She said, OK, use all your powers of persuasion to convince me you can’t.
Maybe this is what they call paradoxical intervention. Don’t tell me I can’t do something! So, I did it. Using an assignment from Milli, I put two of my profile-sketch characters together in a boating situation and let them come to (fictional) life.
Now I see how these writers do it. How they create a bunch of characters, have them act out, get to like them or hate them. Before that assignment, I never could understand what these writers were talking about when they referred to killing off their characters.
What works for me with Milli is that she understands the link between personality and writing. Her assignments are frighteningly on-target for a writer’s inner self. It’s scary how she can pick up the personal vibrations and tailor lessons accordingly. If she were a one-size-fits-all coach, it wouldn’t work for me.
I’ve always had a problem making sure there’s enough of the pizza pie in my life left for me. A slice for teaching, one for the condo board of directors, another for family responsibilities, one for doctors appointments, another for socializing with friends.
But now I can see that, as Milli puts it, I am blowing up a balloon which is taking more and more space in my life, pushing out the rest of the demands in a very natural way. It’s letting me make a decision without making a decision. As I do more of what I’m doing here today, I have less time to do other non-Vicki stuff.