Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Writing Process Tour

Last fall, I received an invitation to play in a women's golf outing in Hutchinson, Kansas. I looked forward to the event because I would see old friends and get to mark playing Prairie Dunes Country Club off of my bucket list.

I didn't foresee making a new friend, let alone one who is a writer, but that is what happened when I met Letty Watt. Letty was one of the organizers of the outing, and we were cart partners the next day when we played Carey Park Golf Course. There was as much talk about writing during that round as there was about golf.

Letty has many stories to tell. She began blogging in 2010 at She currently posts weekly, "writing about a moment in time that has sparkle and life to it." Her goal is to turn her stories into books. Letty was inspired by a workshop she took on memoir writing and has plans to tell the story of her childhood in that form.

A few weeks ago, Letty invited me to participate in the "My Writing Process Tour." Thank you, Letty. I  hope I don't bogey this assignment.

What am I working on?

I am a poet so writing poetry is an on-going process for me. There are three major recurring themes in my poems:

1. Grief- I write poems about the grief process in general and about specific losses that I have had. In April, I published a chapbook of grief poems entitled, "I Keep You with Me". I plan to publish other chapbooks/books of grief poems.

2. Jazz- As Letty was inspired by a workshop on memoir, I was inspired by a workshop on jazz poetry. The poetry may be about jazz (e.g., history, musicians) or contain elements of the music. I would like my next book to be jazz poems.

3. Ekphrastic Poetry-The traditional definition is poetry inspired by visual art. I like to write poetry inspired by various art forms-books, movies, music, visual art. I also take photographs and combine photos and poems into visual art pieces. Sometimes a photo inspires the poem and sometimes a poem inspires the photo. I had my first solo exhibit of the visual pieces in May.

I currently post on my blog twice a week. Posts are primarily poetry and photography, but I do slip a little prose in when the subject warrants. I also am trying to be more diligent about submitting poetry to other sources.

Why do I write what I do?

I began writing poetry late in 2007, but it was 2009 before I started writing it regularly. The first poems came out of a grief experience. A couple of days after the memorial service for a friend, I wrote two poems pretty much spontaneously. My first blog post contains one of the poems.

The genre suits me. Most of my poems are short, and I like to play with rhymes and double meanings.

How does my writing process work?

I like to write in the morning, preferably after a walk. I still like to start with pencil and paper and scribble down a list of words. They may relate to the original idea/prompt, rhyme with each other or be opposites.

During that process, a thread starts to develop and that becomes the direction the piece takes. I have learned to follow the writing rather than direct it. 

I like to let a work sit overnight and then I read it out loud and make revisions. I'll repeat that process until I think it is finished.

For a treat, I will go to the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, walk among the art then sit on one of the benches and write.

I belong to an online writing community called Wordsmith Studio. I'd like to introduce you to three of my friends from that community who also will be taking the tour:

Sabra Bowers

Sabra Bowers lives and works in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.  Her poetry, flash fiction,
and essays are published in anthologies, literary journals, newspapers, and her blog, Later, Miss Slater.

You can find Sabra reading a book while stopped at a red light or writing poetry at lunch. She nourishes herself with a day of solitude and considers poetry her daily medicine for wholeness.

Sabra loves a good story...on the page, the stage, or at an open mic.

J.Lynn Sheridan

J.lynn Sheridan writes in the Chain O’ Lakes area of northern Illinois in a very ordinary house with her scruffy construction-guy husband and quirky children, but she fancies herself living in an old hardware store for the aroma, ambiance, and possibilities. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and literary journals, a few of which are: Beyond the Dark Room, Storm Cycle  2012 Of Sun and Sand, Three Minus One, Four and Twenty Literary Journal, The Plum Plum, Garbanzo, Jellyfish Whispers, and Poetry Quarterly. She has just completed her first novel and is awaiting the final edit before fishing around for an agent. Find her at  or  and on Twitter @J.lynnSheridan.

Julia Tomiak

Julia Tomiak shares tips on words, books, and reading at her blog, Diary of a Word Nerd.  She also loves to read and write young adult fiction.  When she’s not chasing her four kids, she snatches time with her lap top or runs the back roads near her farm.  Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google +. 


  1. Fun to learn a little more about you, Michelle, and about Letty. Wish I could walk that sculpture park with you. Thank you for inviting me on this tour with you. I'm looking forward to reading posts from J. Lynn and Julia. All the best to you!

    1. Thanks for participating, Sabra. I'm looking forward to learning more about you. I know you would enjoy the sculpture park!

  2. This is great, Michelle. Thanks for including me in the tour. With the kids home from school for the summer, finding writing time has been tricky. But this post reminds me of how writing fills my spirit and helps me to appreciate the world. Thanks for the inspiration! I went back and read the two poems in your first blog post and could particularly relate to the second poem about pursuing dreams. Seems we share the same concerns about this writing thing. Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks, Julia. It still is a surprise to me that I am a poet, but I am so glad that I am. Thanks for participating in the tour. I look forward to reading your post.

  4. How fun and most interesting to read your tour. I, too, would like to walk in that sculpture park. It does sound most inspirational. I'm so glad we met and share so much in common. Keep writing and perhaps other writing events will bring us together again along with our golf clubs.

    1. Thank you again for inviting me to participate on the tour. I think it is a great exercise for any writer. I am glad we met, too, and hope we are brought together again by writing and golf.

  5. Nice post, Michelle! I didn't even know the term, "ekphrastic poetry," until you introduced it to me.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I'm glad you are participating in the tour. I wrote my first ekphrastic poem before I knew the name and that it was a subgenre.