Interview with Melissa Kirtley

My name’s Melissa. I’m a SAHM to one very busy toddler. I’m a Michigander turned Californian, but my heart is still mitten-shaped. I’m a writer, blogger, snowboarder, marketer and idea thinker-upper. I live on wine, Red Bull and Diet Pepsi, not necessarily in that order. I started my blog, A Wide Line, after I decided walking a fine was just too much work. 

1.       Why is your heart mitten-shaped?

I grew up in Michigan, also known as America’s High Five since it’s shaped like a mitten. I moved to California when I was twenty years old, but that’s a big ol’ long story that requires a lot of wine.

2.       Does your hubby mind that you use his Dremel to carve pumpkins?

The Dremel was actually Hubs’ idea. I think he thinks it’s hot when I use power tools, but the Dremel is the only one he actually trusts me with. And even that required supervision the first time I used it. It evens out though because I think it’s hot when he uses our Dyson vacuum cleaner, and that totally counts as a power tool.

3.       Precipice came out just over a week ago. What did this anthology mean to you in your writing career?

Precipice gave me the confidence boost I needed. I never thought my story would get chosen for publication, and my jaw hit the floor when I read the congratulatory email. I’m going to submit my work more often and see what happens.

4.       Did you write The Calendar before or after you heard the call for submissions to Precipice?

I wrote The Calendar specifically for Precipice. It’s a story my heart needed to write, but it didn’t belong on my blog. Precipice provided the opportunity for me to put the memory and feelings into words. I felt lighter as soon as it was done, and I knew it needed to be written whether or not anyone ever read it.

5.       Do you think your own mother will read this piece?

Oh, look at you. Five questions in, and you’re already getting all heavy on me. Just kidding… sort of. (Insert deep breath here.) Yes. I do think my mother will read my story at some point. She doesn’t know about it yet, but I know that day is inevitable. On that day, I will have to put on my Big Girl Pants and remind myself how far I’ve come. In the meantime, I’m too chicken to even tweet about it. The idea that I might cause my mother any pain or embarrassment sits like a rock in my stomach. (OMG, you’re like Barbara Walters! You’re totally going to make me cry.)

6.       How has your relationship with your brother evolved since the events described in The Calendar?

It’s been almost twenty years since the events in my story. My brother and I were very close when I lived at home. He was only nine when I moved to California, and he was mad at me for a long time after I left. As he got older, his anger subsided and he came to understand my reasons for leaving. After he graduated high school, he actually came to live with me and my Hubs for a little while, but then he went back home. Since then, we’ve grown apart, and I miss him very much. I hope our distance is just because he’s twenty-two now and has other things going on and not because he hates my guts. There’s so much I undo if only I had a time machine…

7.       How long have you been linking up with Write on Edge? Are you primarily a memoir or fiction writer?

I started linking up with Write on Edge two years ago when I first started blogging. I loved their writing prompts and advice for writers. I write memoirs because, for me, it’s stranger than any fiction I could ever come up with.

8.       What are your writing goals?

I want to grow my blog, but not necessarily monetize it. I don’t have plans to write a complete memoir, though my Hubs tells me I should. While I get my nerve up for that, I plan to pursue freelance opportunities now that my baby has turned into a toddler.

9.       What is your greatest wish for your son?

My greatest wish for Quinn is that he knows he deserves happiness. I want him to believe that he matters in this world, that his needs are important, that his dreams are worth pursuing. I want him to always to be filled with hope. (Again, seriously, Barbara! I need to keep tissues closer to my computer.)

10.   Are you able to write while Quinn’s around, or do you need to wait until naptime?

Nothing gets done unless Quinn is asleep. Most of my writing happens late at night after Quinn and Hubs have both gone to bed.

11.   If there’s a fine line between truth and fiction, what does a wide line divide?

A wide line divides mustard lovers and mustard haters. If you hate mustard, you really, REALLY hate it. It’s kind of the devil.

12.   Is there a fine line between a personal blog visible to the public and a public blog?

Yes, I believe so. I think the biggest difference is promotion. If you’re actively trying to grow your audience and extend your blog’s reach, you have a public blog. With the rise of social media, the personal has become public and our comfort levels with what is considered private has drastically changed.

13.   Do you consider yourself to be a blogger who writes or a writer who blogs?

Perhaps professional writers (and those aspiring to be so) would disagree with my answer, but I consider myself to be a writer who blogs. The blog gives me a platform to write, to share my story. I blog because I love to write, not because I love to blog.

14.   What social media do you use?

I primarily use Facebook. I use Twitter more since I started blogging, but I don’t tweet all day like a lot of bloggers do. Recently, I began a love affair with Pinterest. If Pinterest were a person, we’d totally make out.

15.   What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?

Call me old fashioned, but I love my laptop. I’ve tried writing on my phone and on a tablet since inspiration usually hits me when I’m in the car or nowhere near my computer, but it’s just not the same. Also, the elliptical machine at the gym. Not sure if that counts as a writing tool, but I write in my head the whole time I’m running.

16.   What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?

Does the shower count? I write in my head while I shower.

17.   What is the most persistent distraction from writing?

My toddler is definitely the biggest distraction from writing, but that sounds like an easy answer. Second to Quinn would be my to-do list. I thrive on accomplishment, and fewer things give me greater satisfaction than crossing an open item off a list. So when Quinn is sleeping, I’m usually tackling my to-do list instead of writing. It’s like that list needs to be cleared so the clutter in my head can be cleared. Then I can write.

18.   What is your ideal writing environment? Have you ever been able to create it?

I am easily distracted. If there are other people around, it’s very hard for me to write. I spent a day at the beach all by myself last summer and got a lot of writing done, but it took every ounce of determination I had. To write my best, I need complete solitude and silence. That’s why I do most of my writing late at night after everyone’s asleep. My dream is to have a secluded cabin somewhere, all Stephen King style, where I can write in the beautiful quiet (except sans the scary stuff).

19.   Who are some of your favorite authors?

This might be the hardest question of all! There are too many to list, so instead I will tell you about my favorite book, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I knew I had to read it when my therapist said the story made her think of me. I didn’t even know it was a best seller until long after I read it. I love reading memoirs, and this one is incredible. Her story is… well, let’s just say I had to put the book in the freezer a couple of times. (If you were an avid Friends watcher, you know the reference.)

20.   Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

Han, all the way. I’m a purist.

And, 308 blog posts later, I still write them all in Word first, then copy and paste into the blog. Not because I’m a grammar, editing freak. Well, I am, but that’s not why. I have this nightmare that everything I’ve ever published will just disappear one day, and I want the words to exist somewhere other than the blogosphere.

I’m also a little crazy.

This week, I have a couple of important extras! Last week, my story Abandon and Melissa’s memoir The Calendar were published in an anthology called Precipice. It’s available in both print and e-format.

Also, I have a short story entered in the America’s Next Author contest. You can read and download that story for free on the website. I’d appreciate your vote (just takes a click on the site, no log in) and if you’re feeling very generous, please leave a review! (requires a log-in with basic info)

The shortlink to this post is http://wp.me/p1qnT4-Ye

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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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7 Responses to Interview with Melissa Kirtley

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much, AmyBeth! I really enjoyed the interview, even if you did make me all weepy. It’s an honor to be published in the same collection as you.

  2. I love Melissa’s blog’s and we have a lot in common. I also call myself a writer who blogs, and I also find some of my greatest inspiration in the shower!! Congrats Melissa!

  3. Alison says:

    Congratulations, Melissa (and AmyBeth) on being published writers! That is awesome.

    Melissa, I feel the same way about how I write – as in, I need to write when it’s quiet, when there are absolutely no distractions. Which is why I go to bed so late 🙂

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