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I Create Birmingham: Melissa Scott

“I would love to see more writers take the leap of publishing and creating publicly. I’d love to see Birmingham support local writers by buying their books, carrying books in local retail spaces, and showing up to events hosted by local writers.”

Melissa Scott is a Birmingham-based writer, yoga teacher, counselor, and life coach. In her new book White Girl in Yoga Pants, she examines the unique struggles that women face through the lens of her own experiences, from the evolution of her yoga practice to her recovery from an eating disorder and sexual assault to the challenges of the social media age.

In White Girl in Yoga Pants, you share a series of personal stories that range from incredibly joyful to deeply traumatic. What has the experience of sharing these stories been like? Have you been particularly surprised by any of your readers’ responses?

There’s definitely a lot of intensely personal stuff in the book. I was so nervous about sharing all of it! I was afraid of people’s judgments or public criticism. But the response has been nothing but positive. I’ve had many people reach out to me to say that one of my stories or the book as a whole hit that right when they needed it. Or that it inspired them to share a personal story they had never made public before. It’s been really inspiring and humbling. I’m so grateful for the people who have shared their stories with me.

You have been blogging on your website since 2012. What initially inspired you to begin working on a book?

I’ve wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. I’ve had starts and stops over the years, which mostly boiled down the fact that I wasn’t ready. Last year, I reached a point where I felt like I finally had something worth saying. I hired a writing coach, and she helped me see that I already had a body of work on my blog that I could pull from to start the book. About half of the book is old blog posts that I’ve edited and added to, and half is new material. I loved the process of combining old work with new thoughts.

Your writing is clearly very intertwined with your yoga practice. Can you speak a bit about how one influences the other?

Both are mindfulness and processing tools for me. Both require me to be fully present in the moment. Both are places I can go when I need to think or work through something in my head. My yoga makes me a better writer because it teaches me patience and to trust the process. My writing makes me a more mindful yogi because it teaches me to think through things and not be reactive. And both are creative outlets, of course. I’m so grateful to have both practices in my life.

Are there any resources that you particularly recommend for writers in the Birmingham area?

For female writers, I can’t recommend See Jane Write enough! Javacia Harris Bowser, who runs SJW, has created an amazing community of women writers who support each other. SJW was a game-changer for me. I don’t think my book would have happened without Javacia and that community.

What do you hope to see more of as Birmingham’s writing community continues to grow?

I would love to see more writers take the leap of publishing and creating publicly. But even more than that, I’d love to see Birmingham as a whole support local writers by buying their books, carrying books in local retail spaces, and showing up to events hosted by local writers. Great cities have great local literary scenes, so I think more support for writers goes hand-in-hand with Birmingham’s growth.