It all started in a little gazebo on the banks of the Elizabeth River.
An intimate spot for one, I spent the many summers of childhood perched there on a rickety wooden bench, watching the flaming sun set the rolling waters ablaze as the birds, now sated, gently swept the skies toward home. The sound of nature — so loud in its quiet — melted into a soothing metronome of hopeful waves lazily lapping along the banks of the North Carolina waterway. My own little pocket of Heaven, that town of Elizabeth City, and thanks to my aunt Mayla, it was all mine each summer throughout pre-adolescence.
With precious little to do, I whittled away my hours on that long dock, pouring my heart and soul onto the page. Neat, rounded print when I was patient, or loose, scrappy scrawls that tore the page when I was upset or hurried. The page spread out before me: immaculate, bare, untouched, and waiting. No judgement, no pressure. Just the room and space to be myself in all of my inner, reflective glory.
It was there in Carolina that the page became my secret garden.
It was the beginning of a long and tumultuous love story, starring myself as the ever-toiling worker bee and the page my constant muse and inspiration. I will never command a stage and escort the spotlight. My love, and my craft, is one buried deep inside, in tangles of words that tumble out of my head and onto the page in a beautiful melody that only I can hear.
When those words burrow onto the page, nestling into the perfect placement to create the most perfect melody – there are no words for the sense of pride, the sense of accomplishment, and yes, that still insatiable hunger to share the beauty of the written word with others. Random blogs, poetry-cloaked napkins, both handwritten and online diaries – I still do not discriminate.
When the words come, they are my handmade nursery rhyme, a source of constant inspiration and a skill that has served me well throughout my professional and personal life.
So, I settled into a vibrant office of unique, colorful characters, a raucous bunch who worked hard and played harder. This brief foray into the web marketing and videography world taught me to provide relevant content for a more relaxed audience. Coming from the structured world of finance and high-end clientele, this was a huge curveball to my writing style. My boss constantly lectured me to “loosen up" my writing, and I was horrified as I stabbed at the keyboard and then deleted in an endless cycle of madness. Over time, though, the constant research, exposure, and guidance began to yield excellent results, and I will forever be grateful that this opportunity taught me an entirely new avenue of writing in the workplace.
And yet, somehow it never occurred to me that this could be my life, writing for a living. I didn’t believe it to be a sustainable, legitimate career; honestly, it just wasn’t a thing when I was younger. Writers came into style around the ‘90’s, but it was more of the rock-laden, drug-riddled variety that “Respectable Company” wouldn’t associate with.
So off I went, into the workforce, choosing to forego a college education in favor of on-the-job experience. There was the brief, miserable foray into 4 A.M. Starbucks barista life, then customer service at the local mall, before my aunt swooped in for the rescue and dropped me headfirst into the financial industry. Originally an internship, in just a short time I was supporting an entire office of type-A brokers in addition to the overtaxed Branch Manager.
There may have been no love lost between me and finance, but I did discover a love for event planning so I changed focus. It was love at first wedding, and I was happy with my newfound career despite the many miles and long hours away from home. The next ten years were dedicated to wedding and event management, as I wound my way from small-business caterers to high-volume event properties and upscale resorts, before the need for home finally outweighed career advancement. And besides, I was tired.
Meanwhile, our budding manufacturing company was slowly growing and demanding more of our time and attention. The first of its kind in Virginia, our grassroots company slowly transformed from a start-up into a global enterprise. Business owners overnight, I relied heavily upon my experience and own research to correctly execute all types of written communications and content.
From copywriting to web design, and all sorts of contracts, disclosures, and agreements, I built our company website and social media pages, set up our products and several online stores, while still strategizing and maintaining complex marketing campaigns for a mostly social media-drive industry.
Through our blogs, advocacy involvement, and charitable ventures, we became a well-known and respected member of our industry. Sadly, the business we built over seven years fell to the war against big tobacco, and we closed shop.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that here, during the climax of my own story, my own beloved lullaby has returned to dry my salty tears and reignite the flame that’s been set to low all these years. It took Florida to find myself, but here, on a sun-soaked balcony with swooping pelicans and dolphins frolicking the Bay, here I found my voice and my courage.
Thanks to my time in the corporate world, I am well-versed in all kinds of professional writing. My time in more creative industries developed a talent for more easygoing content. And if I don’t know it, I’ll figure it out. It’s that simple.
Simply put, I love to write, and freelance writing offers a constant stream of inspiration to keep me intertwined with my craft.
Named for Maria, my beautiful mother, and Lillian, my mother's muse and the grandmother I never met. Without these two women, I wouldn't be the dedicated writer that I am today.
When I was little, favorable grades were rewarded with a trip to the bookstore, where the sweet perfume of fresh ink, crisp paper, and worn leather would greet me at the door. I could select any book I wanted, and each time, I fell in love with the written word all over again. My writing comes from reading, and my reading comes from these two extraordinary women. Thanks to their incredible influence, it is a hobby I still indulge daily.
Each new project brings new adventures and new worlds to explore, and with each new project, I cannot wait to dive in!
We’re all on this journey together, and, as long as there are words to be written, we will be right here beside you, fulfilling our role.