A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

What made you decide to write PERSONAL BAGGAGE?


I wrote Personal Baggage because I enjoy the escape that reading gives: to sit down with a book and be transported into a more exciting situation than the one in which I live, and to read about characters who are very different from the people I know.

I wanted to learn how to paint pictures with words, to introduce unusual characters and behind-the-scene events that intrigued me, and to pull readers into the exciting world of nursing. I had a wealth of material, gathered over a long period of time, so when I retired and one of my children gave me Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, then my sister introduced me to David Starnes and he offered to help me, and then my husband bought a beautiful computer desk and a Hewlett-Packard machine for me, I ran out of excuses for not trying, at least, to work on a manuscript.

I would mail what I had written to David, section by section, and he would patiently correct my mistakes, give just enough flattery to keep me working on it, and mail it back. I only met him once: he came to visit my sister one summer when we were there. He had been correcting "Spring" for the third time when my sister called to tell me that he had been killed by a drunk driver in a car wreck. David's sister returned the manuscript.

I stopped work for a year or so, until a family friend suggested that I contact Marlena Bremseth. Marlena had just retired from teaching at Howard University and agreed to take me on. After reading the manuscript, her first suggestion was to change the entire thing from present to past tense. Marlena showed me where to cut, trying to shorten it to a reasonable length, and made it much better.


"Margaret McMillion’s novel intricately weaves a woman’s personal doubts and life trials into the intense and stressful operations..."

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