Interesting people are everywhere. Sometimes I meet them serendipitously at a blogging conference, like my very supportive, Clown Car Collective. We still keep in touch via social medial. Sometimes I interview people while standing in line at Disney World, like Ranier, One Lucky Guy. Sometimes I never meet them in person, like Sharni. I can’t even remember how I met Sharni, except that I read her blog, Sharnigans, back when her son was just a wise toddler.
I met Michele at a mini-course about networking the old-fashioned way. You know, put down the smart-phone, ditch social media, and talk one-one-one, face-to-face. You could say that we practiced on each other. Or you could say, what luck, that we found each other. Two people, at least a generation apart. (Oh, who and I kidding, she’s close to my first grandchild’s age.) Still, we have a lot in common and a lot we can learn from each other.Tell me a little bit about yourself: I grew up on Chicago’s north side (where most of my family still lives), and after college, ended up moving back to Chicago because I’m a firm believer that it’s one of the world’s greatest cities. I balance a lot of hobbies and interests – among them is reading, running, hiking, and climbing to name a few. I love being outside, often opting for a ridiculously long walk to work over a short train ride. Long walks and runs have always been fuel for my writing, and in the madness of life, is where I often gather inspiration for my work. Sometimes, I even take my cat on walks (yes, I put my cat on a leash and take her on walks) which has made me very popular on my block.)Having mastered the skill of project managing my own life, I started working as a project manager at a tech company in Chicago a few years ago. When I’m not working as a project manager, I work on a variety of independent projects.
Michele has some pretty cool poetry on Instagram. You really need to look at it. Check out her accounts: @petit_poetry) and another for pointless and funny greeting cards (@heres_a_card_for_that). Here's a recreation where I can recreate the visual enough to make it work:
ON CAPS LOCK
(I personally really like Michelle's "You Almost Did It" card.)
Tell me a little bit about what you do: I write essays on a variety of topics, often deeply self-reflective and personal. I also translate these essays into storytelling format and perform them at various events around Chicago.
How did you get started: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I have this particular memory in my 6th grade English class, we were all supposed to write a short story. At the end of the year, our teacher organized a reading and had us invite our friends and family. My classmates had roughly 5-10 minute long stories. I, on the other hand, was up there reading for thirty minutes.
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: I use the app Trello, to collect all my ideas. Often, I let the ideas simmer for months before actually writing it, since sometimes two or more ideas will merge into one cohesive essay. I write very early in the morning and leave myself time to edit in the afternoons and evenings. The most important thing I’ve learned in my craft is that you need to walk away and let the words sit for a little while before you revisit them.
What’s your biggest challenge: Getting through the first draft. I have a bad habit of editing as I write, which means I can be stuck on a page for weeks at a time.
How can someone else do the same thing? Consider what time of day works best for you to write and do it every day. It was an eye-opening discovery when I learned that 5:30-9am is my prime writing time. Once I figured that out about myself, I make sure there’s at least an hour each morning in that time frame dedicated to some part of the writing process.
Do you remember your first day of school? Yes! I was very shy, so I brought my doll with me for support. When my dad hugged me goodbye, I gave him a minute-long kiss on the cheek because I didn’t want him to go.What were you like in high school? Still pretty quiet, but aggressively academic and involved in sports. You’d be lucky to hear me speak up in class ever, yet I was constantly shouting in volleyball practices and games.
What advice do you have for someone who has the same background/childhood/aspirations as you? Immerse yourself. This means working on larger projects, journaling daily, attending literary events and storytelling shows, applying for summer workshops, going to readings. All of it. It’s a great way to build a community and expose yourself to parts of the writing world you didn’t know that would speak to you.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Michele as much as I did. If you did, please follow her on Instagram (@petit_poetry and @heres_a_card_for_that) and "like" and "share" her poetry and cards. Feel free to leave a comment for me, so I can get that warm, fuzzy feeling, too.