Elaine Person teaches writing courses throughout the tri-county area. She has lived in the Orlando area for 19 years and started writing when she was 7 and now has degrees in television production and operations and speech and theater. Previously, she wrote professional commercials and performed voiceovers. Currently a member of the Florida Writer’s Association, she has been published many times for her poetry and prose. She’s been teaching writing classes for about three years and her favorite thing to do is edit people’s books and pieces.
The Observer sat down with Person to find out what makes her tick.
Q: What classes do you teach?
A: I teach poetry, prose and children’s classes, but I teach according to a prompt. For example, I’ll say “the black shirt, now write for 10 minutes.” After they write, everyone reads their stories aloud and then there is positive critique only. The poetry and prose classes are open to everyone. The children’s classes are for children, not about writing children’s stories.
Q: When are your classes?
A: Wednesday nights at Winter Park Public Library at 7 p.m. through the Lifelong Learning Institute — open to the public; poetry workshop at the Maitland Public Library on Sunday afternoons (times vary — check online); I’m also available for writing workshops in people’s homes.
Q: What goals do you have for your classes?
A: Sometimes people just need the jumpstart or the kick to get going and that’s my lot in life; it’s very satisfying. My main goal is just to get them to write and help them leave with product. I want to have more people attend.
Q: What inspired you to start teaching writing classes?
A: I was attending a writing workshop where we had to introduce ourselves and talk about our writing background. After speaking about my background, the instructor told me that I had a lot to teach. Also, I’m very vocal and I love people.
Q: Where have you been published?
A: Florida Writer’s Association for a piece about Dustin Hoffman — “My Most Embarrassing Moments” — “A Century of College Humor” by Random House for a parody piece about King Arthur, published a few chapbooks, “Love and Other Passions” by Central Florida Poets, “Glossed Over” in “Slices of Life,” “I’m A Person” in “From Our Family to Yours.”
Q: Do you have any inspirational words that you tell your class?
A: Give yourself the gift of time; If you have something burning in your soul, write it down; let the horses out of the corral — write with wild verbs; writing is like scrabble, it’s not the words you choose, it’s where you put them; as soon as you meet someone you learn something about yourself; writing is a beautiful addiction.
Q: Do you have a favorite story about your writing?
A: In the sixth grade there was a writing competition where the sixth, seventh and eighth grades competed against each other. I wrote a mystery and won first place in the sixth grade.
Q: What is your favorite thing to write?
A: Humor. I love to make people laugh. “I’m A Person” is my humor piece, which has a tone like Lou Costello (of The Abbott and Costello Show), who was once my neighbor. I write clever poems with a little philosophy about them. I’m a performance poet. I like to be vivacious.