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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Chat with Marisa Donnelly of Thought Catalog

"My goal is write as honestly and emotionally as I can." Marisa

My latest chat is with Marisa Donnelly of San Diego who is a native of Chicago. She's an author of "Somewhere On a Highway"; she's a writer and editor for her company, Thought Catalog, which is one of the many places that you can read her work.  She writes from the heart where you can feel her words and even place yourself there in her writing. On a fun note, find out if she's naughty or nice and what her favorite holiday is. 

Introducing Marisa...

What do you love about your life right now?

In the last year I’ve really tried to refocus my life vision—to see the good in myself, the people around me, the world around me—in general flooding my mind with positivity. And since then, I’ve found there’s so incredibly much to appreciate. If I were to try to narrow that down to one thing, what I love is the opportunities I’ve been given: The opportunity to live in a sunny, beautiful place. The opportunity to work in a creative field that always inspires me and pushes me to become a better writer and person. The opportunity to pursue my passions and be surrounded by (or a flight away from) people I care about. So many opportunities. I’m so blessed.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing actually since I was five. I would go to the ‘Publishing Center’ in our elementary school and ‘publish’ these stories with hand drawings for each page. There the craft was born. Fourth grade I started writing poetry (it was bad – I distinctly remember a poem about broccoli haha) and then over the years I kept developing, finding, and rediscovering my voice. So almost a quarter century. Crazy.

Was there any particular writer that inspired you to write?

I will forever credit my fourth grade teacher, Emilie Miller, with my passion for writing. She was the one who handed me a blank composition notebook and told me, simply, ‘Write.’ In that moment, the possibilities were endless. And have never ceased to be.

I love your book “ Somewhere On A Highway” which is a collection of poems. 
I laughed and cried reading it. How long did it take you to write it?

Thank you, thank you! I am so honored. In totality, I’d say a year. But realistically, the idea was marinating for much longer, and the actually writing process was much shorter. I knew I wanted to write about my transitions—my losing and becoming and starting over as I left everything I’d known to move across the country. The idea came about six months before I actually moved. Then I started writing some of the poems that spring; I was going through a tough breakup and doing a lot of introspection at the time. The majority of the poems, though, wrote themselves when I moved to California. It was me releasing all the emotion and pain and love I had for both leaving myself, and returning to myself in a new place. So, to circle back and answer your question—a year, but realistically four months.

What was your process for publishing it…indie or through a company?

I published the collection through my company, Thought Catalog. They worked with me directly on the design, interior images and layout, but I got to have so much creative freedom and direction in how I wanted the book to be. Which was incredible.

From what I can tell from your writings is that you write from the heart. Do you have a process or place that you like to write which is best for you to put your words on paper?

My goal is to write as honestly and emotionally as I can. Sometimes that means taking distance from my audience to really pour myself into the page. What I mean by that is when I write something, I try not to think of anyone reading it. I try to act as if I’m writing to myself—that makes the process more intimate and vulnerable. My favorite time to write is the morning. There’s something serene about the silence before the rest of the world wakes up. I don’t have a favorite place, but prefer to be alone. I can really focus when I’m by myself and not distracted.

Was there one poem from your book that was harder to write and if so, why?

This collection was very personal and emotional, so it’s hard to just choose one poem. But the fourth and final section, ‘Becoming,’ was the hardest to write just because it was so fresh. I was going through a lot of the emotions while actually writing, and some of the poems, like ‘Dear Seventeen,’ and ‘Dear You,’ were literally little love letters to myself.

Any advice you can share for aspiring writers?

If you’re serious about writing, you have to understand that writing is work. Sure, it’s fun. Sure it’s liberating. Sure it’s incredible and exciting and connects you to so many people and opportunities. But it’s also hard. You have to commit to it—to writing every day, to revising your work, to continually developing your voice. And when you figure what ‘your style’ is, or who you are as a writer—believe in that.

I can't believe the holidays are here and Christmas right around the corner.  Do you have a favorite?

Call me crazy, but my favorite holiday is honestly Halloween. I just love that we get to dress up and be silly for a night. I’m also a huge fan of being scared.

On Santa’s list, naughty or nice?

Definitely nice. Haha. I’m too much of a goody-goody. (But maybe a pinch of naughty here and there.)

What does the world need more of right now?

People who support one another, even when they don’t agree. I see way too much negativity, especially on social media. Even if you don’t see eye-to-eye, you don’t have to bash someone’s perspective or ideas. You can simply agree to disagree, say something nice, or say nothing at all.

 Tell me three fun facts about you.
1.     1. I have three piercings – my belly button, my right cartilage, and my nose.
2.     2. My family adopted a Pitbull terrier named Flash and he is my favorite thing.
3.     3. My right hip sits higher than my left.


What are you working on now?

I’m currently in the editing/design planning process for my new book, which is a faith-based book and devotional. I’m looking to release it January 2018!

I share motivational and inspirational quotes with my readers, would you share one that has encourage or inspired you?

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling
Marisa shares one of her favorite poems with me.

He Said He Loved Me

And I believed him 
because words, for me, carried weight
because I felt safe
because I liked how forever looked
in his arms.
He was the first
to let those words
roll of his tongue,
a promise
he never intended to keep.
I tried to kiss
away the emptiness
screaming, ‘I love you’
into the spaces
as if I could fill
He was my first
experience with transience—
searching for a residence
in the impermanent.

About Maria Rochelle

Maria is a writer of multiple genres, and author of the popular children's picture story book series Jasmine Dreams.
Find out more about Maria here →


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