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MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world’s expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .

SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .

LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .

BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .

SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I’m working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .

SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .

M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with multiple sci-fi/fantasy series set in the Multiverse, based upon her expertise in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .

DARREN D. BEYER is an ex-NASA experiment engineer who has worked on every Space Shuttle orbiter but Challenger. In his sci-fi Anghazi Series, Beyer uses his scientific expertise to create a galaxy in which “space bridges” allow interstellar travel based upon the latest in real theoretical physics. Read more. . .

ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny’s debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .

STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield’s second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .

GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans’ fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .

JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .

LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez’ debut novel The Shoebox and second novel The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .

JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff’s abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .

LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star. Read more. . .

ALEX KENDZIORSKI is an American physician working in South Africa on community health education and wildlife conservation. I edited Kendziorski’s debut novel Wait a Season for Their Names about the endangered African painted wolf, for which he is donating the profits to wildlife conservation. Read more. . .

ALEXANDRA GODFREY blogs for the New England Journal of Medicine. I work with Godfrey on her short fiction and narrative nonfiction, including a profile of the doctor who helped save her son’s life, “Mending Broken Hearts.” Read more. . .

In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

  • By Victoria Mixon

    I’m not here this week, which is why you can’t see me right now.

    But that doesn’t mean the conversation won’t go on. We’ve been talking this month about How You First Got into Writing and How Many Degrees of Separation You Are from Your Literary Idols.

    And today I’m going to ask you to bare your soul:

    What does writing mean to you?

    I do so much of this work—and have been doing it for so very long—sometimes I lose track of what it means to me in the greater scheme of things. I’ll be drawing cartoons with my son, or reading something wonderful about gardening, or fainting over the glasswork of Dale Chihuly, and I’ll think, Fabulous! Now I know what I want to do with my life!

    I forget, for a moment, that I’m into the second half of my personal century and that means—guess what?—I already decided what I want to do with my life.

    And I talk about it all. . .the. . .time.

    So I have to take a little while to sit down, be quiet, and remember why. What is it about writing? What is it, specifically, about storytelling? Why do I do what I do?

    It’s the truth inside it. The truth about being alive.

    Storytelling (as we’ve been discussing on the lab this week) is the perfect marriage of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. At this point in the history of literature, we’ve honed this profound art to a craft of exquisite proportions. We know so much, now, about creating effects through the written word. We’ve developed so many techniques for inspiring visceral responses in readers. A great many of those techniques we can use with mathematical precision, the tangible formula of human experience.

    We are such simple creatures, really. Just the two parts: the body, which responds to exquisite craft, and the soul, which responds to art.

    I love that storytelling makes sense of life by making a pattern of the two halves. In a world where every aspect of reality creates the inherent need for its opposite, only in philosophy and art can we ever hope to transcend such impossible paradox.

    And in storytelling, we get to transcend it with words.

    I love paradox. I love words. But most of all, I love using words to transcend paradox, to cast myself out of the limits of reality into a greater truth beyond.

    That’s why I’m here.

    What does writing mean to you?



    “The freshest and most relevant
    advice you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories




14 Responses to “What Does Writing Mean to You?”

  1. I love this question and I think it’s one that all writers should ask themselves every few years (or months?). There are probably many answers that I could give, but for me, writing and storytelling are ultimately about making connections. Through stories, we connect with characters, readers, other writers, other cultures, ideas (themes), and truths. A truly great story makes me feel like I intimately know someone or everyone. There is a special kind of magic in that.

  2. Victoria said on

    Yes, Melissa—connecting as human beings. I absolutely agree. That’s the magic we’re in this for!

  3. “We are such simple creatures, really. Just the two parts: the body, which responds to exquisite craft, and the soul, which responds to art.”

    I just love this statement!

    What does writing mean to me? Wow. I don’t even know where to begin. Writing helps me try and make sense of this crazy world. Writing helped me through some of my darkest days. Writing is an extension of who I am. Without it I feel utterly incomplete.

  4. Victoria said on

    I think writing is the most beautiful and telling way to make sense of this crazy world, Carrie Annabelle. Truly. Other arts have their own profound ways of doing it, but for me the words reveal the real complexity inside it all.

  5. Why must I write? I can NOT not write. I am compelled to do it. My writing helps me explain my life to me.

  6. Victoria said on

    Ah! bekah! Lovely. We’re all of the same mind here, aren’t we? We need to explain our lives to ourselves.

  7. I agree with Bekah. For me, I cannot help but write. Even before I dubbed myself a writer, I kept a journal and communicated best with others via letter/e-mail/writing.

  8. Victoria said on

    You know, ME, journaling is one of the best ways to sharpen your skills over the years. It teaches you to develop the habit of noticing and recording the details of life.

  9. I have always had an affair with my pen. Before computers I would buy as many of my favorite pens as possible in every color, thin sharpie’s are my pen of choice. At any time you can search my purse and find at least 5 different colored ones. I used to write in black composition books and create short stories or write pieces of dialogue of a character in my mind. As a student I would scribble things down along side of my note-taking. My teachers would always ask me, “now what was that along the margin?” Now with the computer I stare at the screen, my canvas and I try to create what I see in my mind. My desire is great and I often am torn with what I have to do and what I wish to do – which is to write. I’m not saying I can do it well, I know I have alot to learn and I’m humbled every time I read something grand or read Victoria’s blog. The words just flow easily and I am in awe. I have learned so much from her, yet have so far to go.
    Even if I never get published, I shall always write. It is my escape and it brings me true joy.

  10. Victoria said on


    “now what was that along the margin?” That’s hilarious, Lisa.

  11. I’ve always wanted to but much like my other relationships in life, it has been off and on with depression and anger when I don’t and frustratingly happy moments when I write and create. I think through all the growing and changing, I can accept this is the route I must be on now to accept myself as a person.

    Great topic, certainly gets the mind working as far as what this is all for. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  12. Victoria said on

    Oh, Leif, everyone who writes over the long term has their phases when they’re dealing with other things. That’s how you know you’re serious about it—when you realize you just keep coming back.

  13. I use writing as a medium to tell stories and entertain myself and hopefully others as well. Writing for me is a means to communicate my ideas and thoughts, examine different possibilities and allow free rein to my imagination. It brings me in contact with many like minded people and helps me grow as an individual.

  14. Victoria said on

    It’s wonderful how entertaining it is to write, isn’t it, Prem? And the different possibilities that open up inside you reveal more and more facets to life itself.