Mabel Lee Cushman: Word Artisan VT

Porch picking!

Porch picking!

When people ask me about Word Artisan VT and what I do, the simplest explanation is: “I write and I help people write.”

Why is writing my passion?  Great writing is powerful. Finely tuned language resonates and strikes the deeper tones of human experience, helping us to shape our impulses, desires, and goals into understandable patterns. Effective writing unfolds knowledge; it increases compassion and changes minds; it can change the world. Collaborating with my clients as their creative ideas and ambitions unfold is a great honor and pleasure.

Writing Coaching—Are you working on a book?

Manuscript Feedback and Editing

As a manuscript coach and/or editor, I can collaborate with you during the creation or revision of your work. I offer in-depth and thoughtful comments, questions, and suggestions based on quintessential elements of craft. I can help you to improve fluency/flow and clarify ideas through comprehensive line editing.

My MA in Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire and my MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts guide me in successful collaboration with a wide range of national and international clients on works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. My own writing practice informs the way I support my clients. Having published several poems, most recently “Drool” in the anthology Our Last Walk: Using Poetry for Grieving and Remembering Our Pets, and a collection of haiku called Where I Go Walking: Vermont Haiku Around the Year, I understand the joys and challenges of the creative process. Creative nonfiction is a current obsession—I’m working on a memoir about my father and am co-editor of a collection of short stories and poems about identity and transformation through name changes. My years of teaching secondary English and college writing courses have taught me how to give feedback that enlightens and motivates writers, but is also honest.

Ghostwriting

Sometimes people who are not comfortable with writing or simply lack enough time have important insight and stories to share. This is where a ghostwriter comes in. In my ghostwriting capacity my primary goals are: accurate information, authentic author voice, rich sensory detail, valid support for one’s opinions, engaging character development, and effective, fluent organization. I’ve found the best way to achieve all of this is through extensive question and answer sessions, research, and careful listening. I also encourage clients to do some of the writing, even if it is rough, because the best details and most poignant reflections emerge this way. A client who does a bit of the writing also has greater ownership and satisfaction with the final product. Again, this is where my coaching/teaching experience is useful.

Other Services:

Do you need to update your professional profile?

In this day and age, with our online village, global economy, and gradually aging workforce, many of us find our career focus and experience in a constant state of flux. It’s almost a full-time job to keep our professional profiles updated: LinkedIn, website, Facebook, resume, cover letter, and professional biography.

I quite enjoy the meticulous work of updating resumes and re-branding a person’s career image. I’ve created or revised profile components for many professions, such as an airline pilot, a pharmacist, and an elementary educator.

Are you an entrepreneur or do you own a small business?

As with professional profiles, keeping up with marketing and branding a small business is an all-consuming task. In addition to simply helping alleviate the time involved with composing website content, Blogs, press releases, white papers, and the like, my clients like the back and forth conversation we have that helps to better articulate their brand or service. The best approach is to first consider your ideal client. Who is it that you would like to attract to your business? When we write from that perspective, the message quickly becomes strong and clear.

Are you completing an advanced degree? Do you need support with academic writing?

Let’s face it. Many people don’t enjoy writing papers for college classes, never mind the daunting task of writing a thesis or dissertation. As a college teacher and having been an academic and disability support specialist, I’ve developed quite a tender spot for students who struggle to write.

Coaching students in academic writing is one of my specialties. I can help you to develop a strong thesis and provide valid support for your opinions within the style guideline for your discipline such as MLA or APA. Usually what is tripping students up, besides a lack of confidence, is knowing how to best organize one’s ideas, find and utilize the strongest support from outside sources, access one’s analytical voice so as to guide the reader, and cite one’s work correctly so as to avoid plagiarism.

Do you have a finished piece of writing that needs editing or proofreading?

When I am line editing a piece of writing, the outside world disappears and time floats by unnoticed—I am “in flow.” To me, editing is like solving a puzzle. How do the words best fit together to communicate what this client needs to say?

For proofreading, I have developed a technique I call “chunking.” I chunk phrases together in order to spot the missing words that writers tend to superimpose because they “know” what the writing is supposed to say. I also tell writers that even with a careful proofreader, it’s always a good idea to have at least two people proof the final draft. Proofreading requires perfection. Humans are not perfect and even famous literary figures have errors in their books! The more eyes on a document, the better!

Having been a production editor for a newspaper, I also have experience with the Chicago Manual of Style. It’s my go-to guide for punctuation, capitalization, and other style standards. Even still, the finer points of punctuation can be nebulous. Large newspaper editors have been known to have vigorous arguments over the placement of a comma. My practice is to research reputable sites for opinion on rules that fall into the nebulous category, consider the intended meaning and fluency of a line, and make an executive decision.

I hope to hear from you!

It’s my priority to listen to you, to what you wish to say and why, so that my writing, editing, or proofreading elevates your voice and your ideas ring out above the cacophony of chatter in our technological village. I craft language that finds the people who need to know you, the people who need to share your vision and work.

 

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold, British author and playwright who wrote National Velvet

Mingus cools off in the creek!

Mingus cools off in the creek!

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