About M.L. Swift

MikeBabyPicAs you see, I was born in the period when black and white photography was still the norm. Sure, color had been invented, but who could afford it except the very rich? Then Polaroid introduced instant color film to the masses and before you knew it, the entire world was snapping pictures, much like we are today with the advent of cameras on cell phones. Of course, we’re doing it a thousand times more and instantly sharing with the entire world, but ahh…technology…don’t you love it? It’s a blessing and a curse.

BugleBoyIt’s been a trip getting to this place in my life—you know, the writing aspect of it. Before moving here to the panhandle of Florida, I was living in Sunny San Diego and lovin’ every minute of it. The Navy took me there; the weather kept me. After my discharge my jobs varied, but I eventually settled into a nice position as a buyer for a men’s clothing catalog.

I was also an unofficial copywriter—that is to say, I wrote all the copy for my stock but didn’t get paid for it. While other buyers gave brief descriptions of the garments to the copywriters for identification, that didn’t fly with me. Call me a critic, but I didn’t like the garment and color names they’d choose, and the descriptions didn’t thrill me enough to grab the phone and order the shirt or slacks or belt or shoes or whatever it was. So when I handed my inventory over to the photographers and copy personnel, I also included the names and descriptions I wanted in the catalog. They liked it, it stayed, and my stuff sold. Everyone was happy.

But all good things must come to an end. The fine folks at Hanover House bought us out and consolidated the catalog, which laid off hundreds of folks, including me. My portion of the catalog—clearance and close-out items—was discontinued altogether, swallowed up by the individual departments to which the garments belonged.

MagicMikeThat’s when I felt a call on my heart to be closer to my parents, who had relocated to Florida. Good fortune and investments allowed me to semi-retire, and I bought a small place on a couple acres in a little town south of Tallahassee. Although I hated to leave California, the move seemed to happen just in the nick of time; my mother’s health began to decline and she developed Alzheimer’s Disease.

Until her passing in June of last year, I was her caregiver, and although Mom and I were always close, this strengthened our bond even more. During some of the most difficult moments, I began to write—to journal the events—which led to my decision to pen a book on the experience.

And that’s how this shaky venture into the writing world transpired. The book about my experience as an Alzheimer’s caregiver is yet to come, as I’ve needed to create different worlds with different characters…someone else to trudge through life’s hazards for awhile. I’ll participate vicariously from the sidelines.

I have no idea what genre I “belong,” but when I look back at my writing style, it has a literary fiction feel, with works more character-driven than plot-driven. Although the plot is just as important to me, I reveal it differently. I guess that’s why I don’t feel a belonging to any specific genre, but many, for my stories are tailored to children, young adults, and grown-ups alike—whichever way the story wants to be told.

Other than writing, I love to garden, and studied landscape architecture in college. I’m a true Virgo, the earth sign, and live up to that stereotype: meticulous and detailed, grounded and practical. I’m a fan of all things to do with the Fine Arts, and can usually be found singing or acting in my spare time, even playing Jesus Christ on a couple of occasions.

That’s more or less the skinny on me.

I’ll end with this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which was the same quote I used as my yearbook affirmation in my Senior year of high school. It’s from his essay, Self-Reliance:

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.”

I’m a strict advocate of being true to both yourself and your story; live the life that’s been given you and tell the stories as they want to be told. Forget trends. Forget hype. And forget success—it may never come. Remember who you are and from where you come. That will bring you the most satisfaction in life and ring truest to others.