Girls Are Coming out of the Woods

Self-publishing and Self-love with Jessie Michelle – li Voices

It only takes a few minutes of flipping through Jessie Michelle’s Honeysuckle and Forgiveness to walk away feeling empowered. Don’t say we didn’t warn ya.

Jessie Michelle, bestselling author of Honeysuckle and Forgiveness and Conversations With the Moonlight has had a love for words since she was young. Honeysuckle and Forgiveness is her newest release, coming out earlier this year.

Jessie’s poetry explores ideals of love in all forms and phases, from heartbreak and healing to self-love and finding your person. Jessie’s poetry is the type of collection that is universally relatable, you can easily picture yourself in her poems. Her words bring her readers to raw feelings of both hope and understanding alike. Ahead, fall in love modern poet Jessie Michelle.

little infinite: When did you know poetry would be the writing outlet for you? What there a magic moment when you fell in love with this form of writing?

Jessie Michelle: I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I still have journals from when I was in middle school.  I have a lot of “dear diary” type entries, but I also have so many poems from that time as well. I’ve always had a yearning to love and be loved. And writing poetry about love felt “safe” to me because it wasn’t necessarily about me. It was about the idea of love. I have carried, and will probably always carry this theme with me and my writing. It is in my bones. 

“And writing poetry about love felt “safe” to me because it wasn’t necessarily about me. It was about the idea of love. I have carried, and will probably always carry this theme with me and my writing.”

Jessie Michelle

li: You are a best-selling author of Conversations With the Moonlight and Honeysuckle and Forgiveness. Congratulations! How has your approach to poetry changed since you began your journey to now, being a best-selling author? Has the entrepreneurial side of writing affected your poetry?

JM: It has honestly been an exhausting but exhilarating journey. I definitely fell into the trap of trying to write what I thought people wanted to read. I fell away from who I was as a writer for a little bit and lost myself along the way. I have found that the more I stay true to who I am as a writer, the more I actually connect with my readers; the more they connect with me. 

“I have found that the more I stay true to who I am as a writer, the more I actually connect with my readers; the more they connect with me.”

Jessie Michelle

li: Your book, Honeysuckle and Forgiveness was released in January this year. What can our readers expect from this book? What is the biggest difference between Honeysuckle and Forgiveness and Conversations With the Moonlight?

JM: Both of my books are about love. Everything I write has to do with love (or that lack of love). My first book, Conversations with the Moonlight dealt with love and the loss of love. It had touches of romance and heartache woven throughout the whole book. It explores the heartache that comes from being in and ending a toxic relationship and then the beauty that comes from finding real and healthy love.

Honeysuckle and Forgiveness focuses on self-love and body positivity. I wrote “Honeysuckle” after the birth of my son. I was (and still do to an extent) struggle with loving the changes that came after I had him. My body changed in ways I wasn’t ready for, and it has been a struggle to remind myself that all the changes are as they should be. Many people get caught up in saying “it doesn’t matter what you look like.” I would rather learn to love what I look like than to simply ignore it. Learn to appreciate the way I am and the woman I have grown into. 

li: For aspiring poet fans of yours, what was your first step in being published? What was the most surprising part of the publishing process? 

JM: I have self-published two books, and am in the process of publishing my third. I’ve also been published in two collections with other writers. Self-publishing is my preferred way (right now) because I want full control over everything I put out. I also don’t work well with deadlines.

My inspiration comes and goes as it pleases. And once the pressure to produce work comes along, my inspiration basically leaves. So, I like to be able to set my own (flexible) timelines and report to myself. There are definite pros and cons to this approach. But it is what has worked for me so far. 

li: What is your workflow like? If you could dish on the “weirdest” or the most unique part of your creative process, what would it be?

JM: The strangest thing is where I find my inspiration. Typically, if my fiancé and I are in a really happy place in life, I tend to write about heartbreak and brokenness. When we are arguing about something or just having an off day, that’s when I am inspired to write my sappiest pieces.

But I don’t always pull from my personal life. I have written many pieces that are about my relationship. In fact, my newest book, “Second Midnight” is based on my relationship with my fiancé. However, there are also many pieces that are not related to our actual relationship. These pieces are pulled from my fears or my hopes for the future. 

li: If you had to describe your poetry style to someone who is just discovering your work in three words, what would those words be?

JM: Raw, honest, passion. 

View this post on Instagram

Happy birthday, dad. Love and miss you always.

A post shared by jessie michelle (@_jessie.michelle_) on

li: Your poetry is displayed in a very stylistic manner. How did you figure out your aesthetic as a writer? 

JM: I am always changing my aesthetic. It’s one of my biggest struggles. I have probably lost a good deal of followers because of this. I guess I am still, like so much of the world, learning who I am. 

li: We have heard from our little infinite tribe that one of the most intimidating aspects of being an up-and-coming poet is opening up sharing your poetry on social media. How did you get savvy on social media as a writer? What is your go-to social media app/resource and why?

JM: I began posting my writing when I was in a fairly dark place in my life. I was going through some really difficult times and I needed a way to deal with my sadness and fears. It honestly felt safer to put it out there for all the world (or whoever was following me) to see than to express myself to the people I really needed to. And after that, I just kept going. I try to post every day, but life definitely gets in the way sometimes.

My two favorite apps at the moment are Canva and 1967. I love, love, love the filters that are in 1967. 

“It honestly felt safer to put it out there for all the world (or whoever was following me) to see than to express myself to the people I really needed to. And after that, I just kept going.”

Jessie Michelle

li: Poetry lovers have fallen for your words (including little infinite.) You’ve built an Instagram community of over 56 thousand people. What types of conversations do you find your poetry sparks most often? Have you found this influences the content in your poetry? Why or why not?

JM: I get a lot of messages from people who relate to my pieces about missing someone. Which because my fiancé is gone for work about 90% of the time, I write a lot about that.

I get a lot of messages asking for relationship advice. I don’t usually give much advice other than to really “follow your heart”. There are so many sides to a story/relationship. So many factors come into play. There is no way I could give honest advice with what little information I might get in a message. 

li: What does “Poetry for Life” mean to you? 

JM: Because I express my soul beat through poetry, to me, this means that I will never stop speaking my truth. Poetry is my outlet. My therapy. My truth. “Poetry for life” means that I never have to give that up. 

To keep up with Jessie Michelle, follow her on Instagram: (@_jessie.michelle_) or on Facebook, here.

Girls Are Coming out of the Woods