Children/YA/Family, Interviews, Music and Performers, My Thoughts, Nonfiction, Poetry, Relationship, Religion/Morality, Writing

Interview With Michele Vecchitto


Hi everyone! Wonderful to see you again for this biweekly interview with Michele Vecchitto. Michele is a friendly and kind woman who has a talent for writing wonderful poetry and engaging stories. I have been following her for a couple of years now, so I hope you will like her writing as much as I do. You can visit her blog here: Steps Times Two – Love and Life . . . The Second Time Around.


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Credit: Michele Vicchetto

1. Hi Michele, Please Tell Us About Where You’re From?

I live in Niantic. It’s a lovely town on the Connecticut shoreline that somehow manages to hold on to the charm of days gone by while still offering all the conveniences I might need.

One of the many treasures in Niantic is a used bookstore called The Book Barn.It now has four or five satellite locations, but the main store is a complex which includes a large barn and several quirky, smaller buildings, each overflowing with books devoted to a particular genre. The few resident cats and some goats, add to its unique vibe. It’s a place to spend the day and get lost in books. Niantic also recently opened a new boardwalk along the beach that offers fantastic views and a place to meet neighbors.


2. Can You Tell Us More About Yourself, Your Everyday Life?

I’m the second of four sisters. My family is especially close and the fifteen children my sisters and I have between behave more like siblings than cousins. My parents are definitely the foundation of our lives. I love everything about belonging to a large family – the support, the laughter, the chaos, and the history we create.

My three children are young adults, busy finding their place in the world. In some ways, they could not be more different from one another, but they remain close. I’m enjoying watching them evolve into the adults they will become. I’m proud of the choices they’ve made and the direction each of them is following in life.

I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life. My husband and I have been married just over five years. Mark is an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.

Our personalities are different but we complement each other well. We are each other’s top priority and do everything we can to support each other in our many endeavors. We’ve intertwined our families and I feel blessed to have his three strong, caring, and talented children in my life as well. They, along with their families, are a vital part of my life.

On a professional level, I teach middle school Literature and Language Arts. I love working with students of this age. It’s my favorite age group of kids. I’ve taught math and science and enjoy teaching each subject, but I’m most thrilled to spend my days sharing Literature with my classes. Preteens and teens this age are discovering their voice and it’s exciting to see the world through their eyes.

Additionally, I work as a freelance editor. I’m working with an audio book company and enjoy the exposure to books I might not otherwise read.


“I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life. My husband and I have been married just over five years. Mark is an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.” – Michele Vecchitto


3. When Did You First Start Writing and Blogging? 

I started my blog in 2014 as a way of keeping myself disciplined about writing, but I’ve always been a writer. I kept journals as a teenager and still have poems I wrote for a memorable class in high school.

My teacher, Ms. Jordan, helped me discover my voice and probably inspired me to become a teacher. I was a stay at home mom for fifteen-years, and when my children were in school, I’d spend eight or more hours a day writing. I took writing classes and completed two novels and a few children’s books.

When I divorced in 2007 and returned to work full time, I lost some of my dedication to the craft. Steps Times Two is my blog and remedy to not being able to write all day anymore.


4. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean To You? Why Do You Write?

I’ve always been a writer as mentioned earlier. I many of my stories and poems from younger days and used to write tales for my kids, nieces, and nephews.

I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.

Beyond these meanings, I love the way writing connects people. I am so excited to be able to talk with people from all over the world about subjects I have brought up or someone else has written about. It sounds sappy, but I believe people are more alike than different and we all have something to share. I am a big fan of the community writing fosters between writers and readers (etc).


“I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.” – Michelle Vecchitto


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Credit: Michele Vecchitto

5.  Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?

Sometimes motivation comes from pure emotion. I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of it’s own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.

Inspiration for me can come from anywhere: a look between two people; a snippet of conversation I overhear; the expression on someone’s face when they don’t notice I’m looking; and/or an unexpected situation or some mundane activity we all experience. Music also inspires me. My playlist has a bit of everything on it and I love to hit play and let my mind drift. Sometimes I’ll find something to write about immediately and other times, I have to file an idea away and let it resurface when it’s ready.

As well, I’m a huge fan of writing prompts and blogging events. It’s a terrific way to stay involved in the writing community and interact with other people. I love to follow and read what other people are writing because each piece leaves me with something to think about and offers a varied perspective to consider. Prompts for me are similar to a puzzle. Each of us figures out how to put the pieces together in a different way to create authentic images. It’s fun when someone has a completely unique take on the same prompt.


6. Is There A Time Of Day You Prefer to Write?

I prefer to write in the mornings, although, it’s not always possible. During the week, I will write when I come home from teaching school. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I’d write from the time the kids went to school until they came home. I miss those days! I’m hoping to stay home next year and write full time.


“I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of its own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.” – Michele Vecchitto


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Credit: Michele Vecchtto

7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? 

I have my blog which I try to work on each day. I also post on Poet’s Corner on WordPress and do my best to keep up. I am working on a historical fiction novel based on my husband’s grandfather who escaped from Poland in the early 1900’s. I’m enjoying the research portion of this novel greatly. In addition, I recently cleaned up a YA novel I wrote about ten-years ago. My romance novel also needs editing and I have two short stories to finish.

My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!


8. Can You Tell Us About What Your Publishing Process Has Been for Some of Your Writing?

I’ve had poems published in anthologies and in places like The Reverie Journal. I have self-published two volumes of poetry which can be found on Amazon. I’m considering adding a third volume but I think my next push will be seeking a publisher for a novel.

Years ago, when I had more time, I was organized about sending my work out. I had a contract with Blue Mountain Arts and several ‘good rejections’ from publishing houses. I took classes and attended conferences. I think networking is a huge part of the publishing process and hope to get back to it in the next year.

I’ve been invited to participate in the Austin International Poetry Festival next April. Eight of my poems will be included in their anthology and I plan to travel to the event to do some readings.


“My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!” – Michele Vecchitto


9. Are You Able to Describe Your Writing Process To Us?

My writing process varies, depending on the type of project I’m working on, but it always includes music. I have a million playlists and a great pair of headphones.

The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me. If I’m working on a poem, I jot ideas or prompts on post-it notes and arrange them around my writing space.

If I’m working on a formal piece, I’ll have notes on rhyme schemes and various types of poetry. After I write, I’ll look for photos to accompany what I’ve written and then decide on a title. My titles always happen last.

If I’m working on a novel or short story, the music part is the same, but I’ll have notes on my bulletin board or in folders which I can flip through. I also send rough drafts to my sister Maureen. She’s read everything I’ve ever written and offers me honest feedback. She’ll tell me what works for her as a reader and what doesn’t, then I go back and edit.

I set my larger pieces aside, sometimes for days but often for months, and then return to them so I can see them with fresh eyes. My YA book has been through three major revisions already and I think it’s almost ready to send out.


11. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading? Any Genres In Particular?

 I’m not sure you can be a writer without being a reader. I love both equally and will read almost anything. I like to balance my writing with quick, light reads and books which require more concentration. I’m  a big non-fiction reader. It must be the teacher in me, but there’s never too much knowledge to learn. I always want to discover new things.

My own writing style has surprised me at times. My YA book is a fantasy novel which is something I’ve never followed, however; a fantasy story was the tale waiting to be told when I tackled the YA book project.

I must confess, I do enjoy writing darker, more provocative pieces. There’s such power there. I enjoy  inspirational pieces as well. Both of these kinds of writing have their place.


“The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me.” – Michele Vecchitto


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Credit: Michele Vecchitto

12. Do You Have Any Advice For Other Writers or Anything Else You Would Like To Add?

I find the more I write, the better I get. It’s a commitment and like any other craft, needs to be nurtured so, keep writing.

I’ve also started a Facebook page and hope to add more writing related posts in addition to my own poems. Twitter has been a great resource for finding writing communities and sharing information for me as well.


13. Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs?

I’m not sure I have favorites. I love to read blogs of all styles and content. A friend of mine started a blog in which she combines book reviews and running called Belle of the Book. It’s fun to follow a blog when you know the writer personally. If the writing is good I want to read it.


14. Here is A Piece of Michele’s Writing She Has Shared:

“Deerfield’s Ghosts”

By Michele Vecchitto

deerfield
photo: Atlas Obscura

Wandered into a cemetery

surrounded by a stone wall

hidden in the deep wood

The cold winter’s wind

calling the shadows and

whispering my name

Air weighted with sadness

as tombs of sorrow beckoned

like a house so empty

I stood alone, waiting

as voices of the lost

washed me in time’s tempest

My hands embraced each soul

as I traced those crumbling stones

placed long ago with care

Overcome with tears

as I read of Martha. loving daughter

a life lived five short years

And her mother, wife of John

who shared the same last day

in another time, another place

Night fell and mockingbirds

resumed their evening song, playing chords

that matched a funeral march

Chilled to the bone and wearied

I sank to my knees beside a family plot, crying

Tell me where hope lives

Awareness that each stone was marked

with that date, February 29, 1704,

came slowly, deliberately

Echoes of war drums rang

through the silence as fear

electrified the hallowed space

The massacre of yesterday

forgotten as time moved on

still hosts ghosts of the innocent

Every once and awhile

the lost invite someone back

to share their story

And so I did


Michele says about “Deerfield’s Ghost:” “I love this one because it almost wrote itself. When I came to the point when I narrowed in on a subject, I googled “massacre” to find a specific date to use and came across a list of victims from the Deerfield massacre of 1704. The funny thing is, it included the names and ages of people I had included in my poem.”


More Links To Michele’s Blog Pieces:

  • Ray holds special meaning for me because it was written for a dear friend who passed away. Reading it at his funeral was the first time I’d read my poetry in public and I feel grateful I had a chance to honor him in this way.
  • Small Town Hens is an example of a poem I wrote after I witnessed a situation that made my blood boil. It makes me chuckle now because it captured my disgust at poor behavior.
  •  Light of Love was written after the nightclub attack in Orlando. I will sometimes respond to current events in poetry. This incident demanded a response.
  •  The Choice and Metamorphosis are two old ones that I wrote during very difficult times.  I try to live my life as described in “The Choice” and “Metamorphosis” speaks to the ability to persevere in even the darkest of times.

Thanks to Michele for thoroughly and thoughtfully answering the interview questions. I wish her much luck with her writing and future endeavours. Here is the link to her blog one more time: Steps Times Two.


I hope you enjoyed this week’s interview. If you would like to share and answer interview questions on writing and blogging of any kind, feel free to reach-out to me on my contact page. See you in two-weeks!


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

 

Daily Prompt, Health, My Thoughts, Short Stories And Serial Stories, Writing

Dealing with My Worst Qualities. 


Prompt: What is your worst quality?

 

It is a great deal easier to write about my worst qualities then my best. Mostly, because I am aware of my faults more than my best characteristics. There are two things I do that are my worst qualities:

My, first worst quality has to do with my ability to not be able to contrentrate long or be multi-functional anymore. I am not blaming my health for it; I am saying my health intensified the issue.

I can do one thing at a time and it is often frustrating when I am working on writing up a paper or blogging about a subject, and someone starts trying to have a conversation with me. It makes me angry because I can’t multi-task, the person talking to me is interrupting my ideas and line of thought. And you know how if you are a creative person, ideas often flow out of you when they do; you have to write, paint, or do whatever you do to get your burst of creativity on paper. Meanwhile, a person is still talking to you none-stop and asking you questions and it is annoying. At the same time, I feel bad about being irritated.

Often, it is my Mom who is trying to talk to me. Before, I was ever ill I remember being so mad because I would be researching, writing up a paper, or working on a spreadsheet from work and she would pepper me with questions. But I knew she only wanted to talk to someone after a busy day at work about what went on good or bad. She wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t involved in her office life and get my opinion or view on a situation. She wanted to be able to talk about the people at her work, honestly. She wanted to ‘take a load off.’

I want to be able to talk with my Mom and others. But if I am busy or worn out after doing activities all day, I will brush people off. I will tell my Mom to stop bothering me. I go to my room and finish what I’m doing or sleep if I’m tired. I want to be chatty and happy but I feel bothered and drained by people talking at me and asking countless questions at times. So my first big flaw is I am irritable and single-minded. I am working on actively being a better listener. But it is hard at the time of day everyone gets home from work because I am worn out from the day and my medication is wearing off. I want to listen more and be involved in the conversation and not tune it out or walk away. Sometimes I able to be a better listener and sometimes I’m too irritated to pay attention.

The second flaw I have is something I try to attend to before it becomes worse. I have a tendency if I get mad or angry to let the issues I’m upset about build-up inside me. I get stressed-out when this occurs. I will sort through issues in my head trying to solve them. “Problems to solutions that don’t even exist,” I was told once. But the issue is my problems are real and bothersome. And I attempt to be a nice kind person so I don’t usually tell someone off or ask them to stop doing something unless they are especially bothering me.

An issue arises, however; if someone is repeatedly doing a hurtful action. Or if a person keeps doing a whole bunch of bothersome and hurtful actions all the time. I try to tell myself it is no big deal. I pray about it. I practice yoga and meditate sometimes. I write a lot as you know. And often writing helps a ton. Sometimes if I write something up and even if I don’t post it because it’s too personal or mean about another person, I feel better.

But every now and then someone pushes my buttons and I explode into yelling and tears. I’m a soft spoken reasonable person so when I yell and scream people are surprised and usually offended. Maybe, they didn’t realize something was a larger issue to me then they would have thought. Maybe, I am blowing the situation out of proportion. And maybe, I genuinely have the right to be so upset at someone.

I scared and hurt a friend in Vegas once when I erupted with anger. My friend T and I needed to take L aside and talk to her before the situation got worse but neither T or I did. L had been treating T and I badly the entire summer. Not to mention, she wanted to do all these things with us in Vegas but didn’t actually have the money to pay for it so T and I ended up paying for L, on many activities we did. Also, the fact L had a wonderful boyfriend who was our friend too, and L was flirting and making out with other guys made T and I angry.

I have told this part before: while we are in a club, T became so drunk she was sick and we had to leave the bar. We tried to get L to leave because we promised to stay together, all three of us. L kept telling us to wait and I finally told her T and I had to go, the bouncer was about to carry T and I out the back exit. L chose to stay with two guys she had been flirting with all night.

We finally saw L again as we got back to the hotel room. She was angry too and tried to blame it all on us and said we had abandoned her at the club. I knew T would never stand up to L because she prefers not to handle situations head on. T used to let a person treat her badly, instead of standing up to them. Luckily, she has become better at this over time.

I was so mad about L’s behaviour all summer. I exploded. L was shocked and she asked me why I would even want to be her friend if I thought so badly of her. And I told L how bad she was treating her boyfriend and if she didn’t stop, even T said she’d tell L’s boyfriend on her. L had been treating T and I badly too. L left our room with all her stuff. She wouldn’t talk to us the rest of the trip.

L made up with T because she hadn’t yelled at her, even though L had been a bad friend to T, ditching her for guys countless time. After many emails and some time L and I were friends again three months later. I finally apologized because she wouldn’t. And funny enough, she became closer to her boyfriend. L saw how valuable he was, and ended up becoming engaged, and marrying him.
Even though, L was misbehaving, she didn’t deserve to be yelled at so loudly and L didn’t deserve to have everything T and I were mad at her for dumped on her. People are imperfect and you have to pick and choose your battles. Some things about your friends you have to accept; just as you have flaws so do they. The best friends love you after you’ve shown them your worst side and you love them after you have seen the worst of them. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing your friend or choosing to be right.

I am careful now because of this situation in Las Vegas when I was twenty-three, to not let my anger build up. If I have a big problem with someone or something they are doing, I am honest. And I try hard to tell people how I’m feeling in such a way  that isn’t accusatory but rather focuses on how something is hurting me or causing me to feel a certain way. The truth is people do not always realize they are being hurtful. Often, you need to tell the person who is damaging you to stop treating you a certain way and they will listen and cease.

Not letting issues build up helps. I also have learned to let some issues go. I try to get someone else’s view on the situation, Google the general problem, or pray about it. For many situations I find looking at them from a different perspective is helpful. If you see the situation differently it won’t become a problem that will build up. I have also learned that you have to say goodbye to some people or take your issues with a person to a higher authority. But since we are adults, there is usually no higher authority, unless it is a work issue or an issue of crime.

So for instance,  I had trouble with a girl who was editor of a magazine I volunteered to write for. She didn’t understand why I was upset about her editing my articles to sound entirely as if they were in her voice. Some of her other editors were being taught to do the same. I didn’t find out until later when I took actual editing courses, what this editor was doing was incorrect and rude. You always try to preserve the voice of the writer and the way the article is written as much as you can. I was confident enough in my writing skills, my BA in English Literature, and the couple hundred articles I had written for her magazine previously. My ideas and my writing style wasn’t bad but my grammar and spelling needed work.

The editor wrote me a letter saying I had to work on my grammar and spelling, which was true. And she had tried to let me improve but I wasn’t, so she increasingly, cut down my article writing until I was only writing one article a week; before I was writing nothing. I exploded to her letter with a nasty email. She thought this was exactly how I was going to react. She probably had the same issue come up with past contributers to her magazine. I ended up apologizing to her for being ageist because she was more than five years younger then me with no degree, so I didn’t trust her writing or editing experience. Honestly, I had good instincts with her, despite my hasty email.

In truth, she was being manipulative and I finally recognized, she didn’t like my writing style. She was looking for people who wrote how she wrote on her personal blog and in her articles. And she didn’t want me to write for her magazine even when she needed writers. I was offended but I knew I didn’t want to be a writer like her or for her. She said the magazine was expanding and the writers had to expand or become better with it. I agreed but still had problems with how she chose to write and what she focused on in her magazines.

I didn’t like how she regularly wrote about cheating with men and women and ruining relationships. Although I support LBGT people, I was offended that she rarily had articles pertaining to man and woman couples, boyfriends and girlfriends.  I found this editor to be selfish, micro -managing, and immature despite her attempts to appear professional.

She didn’t want my writing but wanted to use my blogs to tweet and post. She wanted to stay friends but didn’t want me to write for her because I was offended by her note. I had every right to be.

So, I let her go. I stopped supporting the magazine by buying the quarterly issues. I wouldn’t let her use any of my writing for her magazine. I unfriended her on Facebook and Twitter. I stopped taking her text messages and didn’t give her my new number when it changed. I unsubscribed from her blog and anything related to the magazine. It was a great decision.

I don’t know where she is at now. I hope she is well and has worked out some of her life and issues with the magazine such as finding writers. It was mean of me to write her a nasty reply to her email. She didn’t deserve it, even if she lacked a degree or experience. But I couldn’t be friends with her after how she talked about my writing, how she treated my skills as if suddenly they were useless. I knew from professors, writing articles in the Edmonton Journal in University, and even strangers my writing was good. It didn’t mean my writing didn’t require improvement (it still does and will forever) but I didn’t like how she belittled my skills and my person. I let her go.

So, I have learned some tricks to working off stress and dealing with problems before they become so large I explode in tears and screaming. Every once in a long awhile, I can’t help it but I am getting better. We cannot always overcome our flaws but we can try to manage them.

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©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.