Leslie Ullman, author and writing consultant


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Leslie Ullman Freelance Manuscript Consultant & Writing Mentor


I taught for twenty-seven years at University of Texas-El Paso, where I served as Director of the Creative Writing Program for many of those years, and established the Bilingual MFA Program. I was not quite bilingual then, but the program helped me become more so. Eventually we hired a truly bilingual and very skilled administrator, who created a separate Bilingual Creative Writing Department and arranged to attract students from Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, and Uruguay. It was an exciting place to work, but right around that time, Taos and a more freelance life began to attract me. I also had been teaching in the Vermont College low-residency MFA Program most of the years I was at UTEP. It was a job I loved, and a more portable one. I retired from UTEP in 2005, right around the time Vermont College bought its campus and programs from its previous owner and became an independent interdisciplinary arts institution, Vermont College of the Fine Arts. Along with  the joys of working with collegial administrators who are also artists, we faculty now share added responsibilities of helping to build a young, dynamic institution. VCFA is now fully launched and growing (see their website, www.vcfa.edu).

Leslie at Taos Ski Valley (photo Peter Lamont)My work at VCFA has been most sustaining, giving me the chance to work intensively with five poetry students each semester, seeing them through their creative theses, critical theses, translation projects, and the juicy, more process-related issues such as gaining comfort and even pleasure in the task of revision, handling occasional lapses in confidence, and finding a firm place for their writing in the midst of busy lives. What I love about this job is that allows me to work with the whole person, and I have  been able to parlay this kind of focus  into my more recent activities as a freelance manuscript consultant and even as a ski instructor at Taos Ski Valley         

As a manuscript consultant, I help to edit and polish prose pieces as well as poetry, though most of my work has been with book length poetry manuscripts and smaller batches of poems. And more often than not, my dialogue with writers goes beyond what a manuscript needs or doesn’t need, to include how they might expand on their craft through additional reading, access to other writers, and experimentation. I have learned from my own experience that we can’t control how the world will receive our work, but we can manage to be richly sustained by the act of engaging in it and of pushing ourselves into new territory. The fact that many of my students and freelance clients have published their books is often a byproduct of this other, more personal, and more sustaining gift.

 


Leslie Ullman Author, Artist and Writing Consultant  LeslieUllman.com

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