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Last year, I enrolled in a creative writing class at Madison College. It was 16 hours of emotional torture, and I’m really happy I did it.
My intention, or hope, was to unlock something in my brain, a jumpstart give my non-fiction copywriting more spark. On the first evening, my classmates—all women, a variety of ages—took turns introducing themselves. They all arrived with a distinct backstory and purpose for being there. Some had big ideas they wanted to publish and just needed a little focus. Others were there to enjoy the exercise of writing itself.
By Week Two, I felt a deep panic start to ripen in my gut and glide through my veins and sweat glands. Our instructor gave us one exercise on main character development and another posing “6 Big Questions To Create Your Story” and the realization slammed into me like a semi: the rest of the class had fantastic plots and interesting characters percolating, already looking forward to the final assignment of sharing one page of their story with the class. I was starting from scratch, armed with experience in deftly rearranging words to fit someone else’s brand guide or a 30-second voiceover, but without any stories of my own to tell.
For the next few weeks, I played along. I furtively scribbled worksheet answers, changing my story every time: from a political campaign manager with a #MeToo secret, to a horror/thriller, to an elderly woman blackmailing her neighbor into committing a jewelry heist. As my clever classmates shared incredibly creative dialogue and beautifully drawn tableaus, my voice dropped by decibels and I crouched further down in my seat.
Finally, by Week Five, I landed on a story, something that had made a few brief laps around my mind over the years and then scattered away to some private waiting room until I was ready for it.
That release from stress and worry also made the class more fun. The instructor assigned a worksheet to match a series of quotes with a series of characters. Instead of making obvious pairings, I just thought of what would make my husband and me laugh (matching the quote “Your future depends on the decisions you make today” to the Pot Smoker instead of the High School Principal or giving 7-Year-Old Colin the quote “I just got my first break-up text today”).
On Week Eight, each writer read their pages aloud to the class. I was blown away by how much care and thought everyone put into their piece, how original their plots and settings and characters were, and how they infused their distinct personality and, in some cases, very personal life stories, into their words and their new worlds. (Bravo, my fellow writers! Bravo!)
The class wrapped on Dec. 13, 2018, and it’s taken me an entire year to feel brave enough to share my one little page. Please enjoy.
Here’s the inside scoop on Sassy Cow Creamery:
- The owners are UW-Madison alumni.
- Their two farms in Columbus, Wis., cover 1,700 acres.
- Some 850 cows produce 6,000 gallons of milk daily, including 250 cows that produce organic milk.
- You bet your sweet Bucky I brought home a few gallons of ice cream and chocolate milk when I interviewed them on site this summer.
Check out my article in the Winter 2020 issue of On Wisconsin magazine.
This is definitely a first for me. For the first time this year, WPS Military and Veterans Health (part of WPS Health Solutions) was an All-Star sponsor for the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., on June 26.
Our multimedia team created a one-minute video to introduce WPS to this new audience and build brand awareness among decision-makers and influencers in D.C. area. The video, which aired multiple times on the scoreboard at Nationals Park, takes viewers through our 70+ year history, starting with the creation of WPS to support returning World War II troops through today.
Wendy Hathaway, Writer and Producer
Exciting news from the WPS Health Solutions multimedia team! We just learned that we won two bronze awards at the 40th Annual Telly Awards for our “Salute to our Vets” video, which aired on WFRV-TV in Green Bay on Veterans Day 2018.
The video won in the categories of Local TV: Institutional/Corporate Image and Local TV: Insurance.
The video features four WPS employees/military veterans talking about why they are passionate about working at a company that serves active-duty military personnel and veterans.
The segment was shot and edited by Nathan Redman and Erik Eichstadt; directed by Matthew Stanosz; and written and produced by yours truly.
Last fall I had the pleasure of spending an hour on the phone with University of Wisconsin alumnus Allee Willis for this On Wisconsin magazine feature, published in the Spring 2019 issue. Allee is a two-time Grammy Award winner, Emmy and Tony nominee, and recent inductee in the Songwriters Hall of Fame . . . and she’s also one of the most interesting people I’ve ever spoken with.
Update December 26, 2019: Grammy-winning songwriter Allee Willis passed away just before Christmas. Here, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes much of my story in their tribute to Willis.
This spring, I had the pleasure of editing a book written by author and career counselor Gina Jenkins of CareerLight Coaching. Here, Jenkins demystifies the often intimidating and inscrutable interview process with real-world stories, best practices and space for personal reflection.
I love writing for UW-Madison’s On Wisconsin Magazine because I get to talk to so many interesting Badgers who do amazing things. Last fall, I phoned up fellow alumna Jenni Radosevich ’05, a lifelong crafter who turned her love of DIY into a publishing and television career, and is now flipping houses in Milwaukee. Read Jenni’s story here.