by Sally Miller
|Essays Health Poems Short Stuff Critters Rants Erotic Fiction|
I am including here a sampling of things I write. Some are fiction, some are essays, poems, or articles. They cover a span of 15 years. Though you may not always agree with me, you will find my writings short and easy to understand.
I put together my first "newspaper" when I was 9. The Des Moines Sunday Resister published my first serious essay when I was 17. I was then befriended by a member of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and had other writing mentors at Oberlin College and Rutgers University. Throughout my married years I wrote only grocery lists and an occasional heart poem. Just to keep myself stable during my husband's terminal illness, I began to pour my heart out on paper. With practice I learned to write using my left brain, also, and eventually my whole integrated self.
I have been influenced by writers as varied as James Whitcomb Riley, AA Milne, William Faulkner, DH Lawrence, Tolstoy, Henry Miller, Carlos Casteneda, Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, Peter McWilliams, Robert Bahr, Betty Dodson, and Joan Bello, all of whom wrote in ways I have enjoyed, admired, and internalized. I have also been influenced by the members of the Higginsville Writers Group, a local critique group which has been invaluable in helping me improve my writing skills and ability to communicate. I wish to publicly thank them all.
I am completely undisciplined, writing best when I write spontaneously, that is, when I feel like it. For me, forced, or regular writing is boring, difficult, and usually non-productive. This means I have small note pads near every chair in the house, on every table, on both sides of my bed, in the bathroom, on the kitchen counter, and in the car. Whenever an idea for a poem or article or story comes to me, I write it down. I might not write it all down at that point, but at least the initial sentence, first paragraph, or main points in outline style. Later the details seem to flow from that jotted-down beginning.
Yes, I do go through those collections of little white notes. Sometimes I transfer them to the computer directly. Usually I sit down at the computer to write something and look through my filed notes just to make sure I haven't forgotten a point I wanted to make. These notes are like insurance against my memory failures, and they help me with organization and clarity.
This means the content of my writing varies from the moments to moments I have been living my life. Upon reading "Roof Rant" a local young man who painted for me said, "You can write about anything!" It means I can and will use anything that floats into my consciousness as a vehicle for expressing my opinions about many things. Perhaps that's what all writers do. At least among those of us who let our writing flow through us, as if we are only the instruments of a higher power.
On the other hand, the crafting of a poem or article is a much more disciplined experience. I write and edit from mid afternoon into the evening, with frequent interruptions from TV, visitors, and necessary chores (like feeding myself or answering email). I use these interruptions to stretch out my body from sitting, breathe more deeply, meditate, or otherwise re-balance myself from the intensity of writing directly into the computer. I print out what I have written quite regularly, and look at it with my editor's eye. When an article is first "finished" I take a printed copy with me out to breakfast, where I find it easier to be somebody else and read it with an outsider's eye. I often do 7 or 8 printed drafts before I consider an article or story done.
Why do I write? I have no other choice. It is compelling in my life now.
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