Missy Black, freelance writer extraordinaire, has been writing for West Michigan Woman from its very beginning.
Missy dreamt of being a writer as a young girl; today, her byline is a stamp on various publications within the West Michigan community. You've pored over her words, laughed at her wit and heeded her advice. That's why West Michigan Woman wanted you to get to know her a bit. Here's a look at the person and career behind the voice.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I won a Young Authors award early on in elementary school and it just went to my head. I had visions of fame and fortune and I was already a voracious reader—spending all my money on those Scholastic book orders—so the allure of writing was an easy dream to agree to.
How did you get to where you are today?
I graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Art in English, with an emphasis on creative writing. From there I worked at On-the-Town magazine as the associate editor. After that, I've been freelancing for local publications such as Revue magazine, Grand Rapids magazine and, of course, West Michigan Woman. I also work with some Wolverine Worldwide brands, crafting shoe copy for the web.
How did you get connected with West Michigan Woman?
My friend Kim Bode of 8ThirtyFour Integrated Communications mentioned there was a new magazine in the works and she thought I should investigate it. I was handling a lot of local fashion writing and that content was an important piece to readership. I adore having a monthly presence where I can share local boutiques, trends and highlight the stylish women in the area. An article that still makes me smile is one on taking your outfit from corporate to creative—going from the workday to evening activities with a few small clothing switch outs. It was packed with some great tips.
What are a few of your favorite things?
I make a point to surround myself with my three favorite things each day and those are tea, books and words—or my stories. I run on those things alone.
Where in West Michigan do you love to spend time?
My family lives in Rockford and I love the downtown area. It's a great walking community with boutique shopping, great restaurants and tons of ice cream options (another one of my favorites).
I shop—too much—at Bailey & James Boutique, am drinking my way through the menu and coffee shop drinks at Sweetland's, and Ramona's Table has amazing fish tacos. I love all the clothing at LA Miller and girlfriends and cocktails happen at The Green Well. My family and I walk our dachshund on the trail and always finish up with ice cream at Custard by the Dam. You must try the pistachio flavor!
We also spend our summer weekends on our pontoon boat, up at Dickerson Lake in Stanton.
Rumor has it you're in a book club. What are a few of your favorite books and which writers do you admire?
Life is wonderful when you're in a book club. Should I make that into a bumper sticker or a trendy, graphic T-shirt? We just celebrated our 100th book with a champagne toast at Books & Mortar, followed by a sushi feast. Recent favorites include A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. I'm currently buying everything I can by Louise Erdrich, whose work features a lot of Native American themes. I'm also a huge Michael Ondaatje fan. He has a new book coming out, so I'm basically counting down the minutes.
What do you like about freelance work?
I get to talk to fascinating people all day long, every day of the week. As a little girl I was hooked on stories and now I get to make them happen for new business owners, the fashion addicted, the foodies—these lifestyle stories that are the pulse of the community, I'm part of that. When readers pick up a magazine, they are passing their time with me. They are planning their next purchase by my recommendation. They are taking my message and committing it to memory.
What tips or advice would you offer women who want to write?
Surround yourself with great works of writing. I truly believe when you consume good works and soak in quality writing it will show up in your craft.
Also, journal like you're getting paid to do it. Write every day. Make lists. Record your observations. It's practice for the bigger stories. It's a creative exercise that pays off.
Courtesy of West Michigan Woman.