#TPBTH Meet: Helen Mitternight
Name, craft/industry/blog/passion, most popular handle/website:
Helen Mitternight, Relationship blogger: Stilettos Not Required/ http://mitternightstilettos.wordpress.com
What’s Love Got to Do With It/charlestongrit.com
How did you get started?
I started out as a reporter for the Associated Press but moved over to the “dark side” to write copy for p.r. clients. When I moved to Charleston after years of writing public relations jargon, I wanted to stretch my writing muscles again, and I found I had a lot to say. At the same time, friends who were envious that I had tossed everything aside to start fresh and semi-retire in a city where I knew no one but my husband and the realtor who sold us our house, were asking for “reports” on how it was going. The blog was the result.
What or who influenced you the most as you were developing your craft?
I love the writers who take ordinary life and make you look at it afresh. Writers like Anna Quindlen, Anne Tyler, and Anne Lamott. Apparently, all my influences are Annes of some type, so maybe I am too lazy to move down in the alphabet?
Why do you love your job?
I love that I can say things in my blog that I don’t have the courage to say in person. Also, my husband can take blog photos that only show one of my chins and it’s hard to keep that angle in person.
What inspires you?
My best writing comes when I am angry or hurting. Since I am a relatively happy person, I am rarely a great writer. I have been inspired by my mother’s death, the shooting at the Mother Emmanuel Church, and by the fierce love I feel for my daughter, who is old enough to wish that I’d dial it down a notch.
5 words that describe who you are:
Writer, sensualist, animal-lover, dreamer, cautious optimist
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little, I wanted to be an archaeologist. But then my mother pointed out that I would never be able to keep a good manicure if I spent my days mucking about in the dirt and I really really wanted a manicure, so I gave up my before-there-was-an-Indiana-Jones dreams.
Being paid to write, read, eat great food and drink, with the occasional massage thrown in that I would submit to graciously because, well, you know, it’s the job.
3 things you aspire to be or do:
Relax and realize that there is an abundance of whatever I need. That’s it, just the one thing.
(Fill in the blank) I appreciate __________ in my life, because__________.
My husband…he calls me on my bullshit
What was one of the hardest lessons or toughest obstacles you had to overcome?
Getting out of my own way. Learning that doing something that is fear-based never turns out well.
Advice for someone who is looking to begin a new hobby/job/life pursuit:
Just be you and enjoy. Everybody is so worried about their own stuff that they don’t have time to look at you and judge you…in fact, in an odd way, it’s liberating to know that you matter less to the world than you think.
Something your followers would be surprised to learn about you:
I write mysteries and am always thinking of interesting ways to kill people.
My go-to is pasta and broccoli. But it has to be really good pasta with virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parm. The broccoli can be the frozen stuff. Because I love writing about food and chefs, and because I love cooking, food is a great motivator in my life.
Old scotch, smooth red wine, vodka martini.
If you stay seated during “Old Time Rock and Roll” or “Uptown Funk,” I don’t want to know you.
“Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.” (it’s an ironic kind of thing from the great poem, “Ozymandius.” Look it up. Especially during the arrogance of this Presidential campaign.).