Time for another Author Interview here at Caffeinated Fiction! This time I interviewed Susan Miller – a friend of mine who specializes in poetry. I’ve listed a link to her blog and a short bio below, along with the interview. Be sure to check out her website and see what she’s been up to lately! This lady is super encouraging – don’t miss her tips for other writers and how she’s overcome struggles in her own writing. She is a fantastic example of someone who has never given up and I’m blessed to know her. Thanks, Susan, for sharing with my friends!
Find Sue’s Nook here.
Bio: I am a stay at home homeschooling mom. We live in Lancaster County, PA. I enjoy reading, writing, gardening, cooking, and spending time with my family. Writing serves several purposes in my life. It’s an act of worship to my Lord, it relaxes me, and it is therapeutic. I hope that reading what I’ve written blesses the reader as much as writing has blessed me.
How long have you been writing poetry?
I’ve written some poetry off and on over the years since high school but that was just in my journals when I was sad or upset. I also would write a poem to my sons on their birthday. I have a notebook of birthday poems for each child which I plan on giving them when they leave home. I started writing poetry regularly in the fall of 2013 which is also the time that I started my poetry blog, “The Dance of Life”
What writers or poets inspire you? I love Lucy Maude Montgomery. I have read every single book she has written. (At least the ones that I know of!) I especially enjoy her Anne of Green Gables Series. I adore Anne! Other authors that I enjoy are C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, E.B. White, Mark Twain, L. Frank Baum (I’ve read all of the Oz Books), P.L. Travers, Jeanette Oak, Frank Peretti, Jan Karon… I could go on but I’ll stop there. 🙂
Some of the poets who have inspired me and whose works I enjoy are Robert Frost, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walter de la Mare, William Carlos Williams, Robert Browning, Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou, Edgar Allen Poe (I love some of Poe’s works but others ones are a bit too morbid for me.) and many other poets but the ones listed are who I could think of off the top of my head.
Is there anything special you’re working on right now?
I’m always working on something. But I am gathering some of my poetry together into a book which I hope to publish one day. I’m also looking through things to see if there is anything that I feel led to submit for publication.
Another thing that I am working on is a poem story about a group of little people who live beneath a special kind of tree. These people have special powers which affect the moods of others. I’ve been having fun writing it but it’s been hard, slow work. My characters don’t always cooperate with me! 😉
What types of subjects do you most like to write about?
This is a hard question and I’m not sure how to answer it! I can’t really dictate what I write about. It just flows from me. I’ve written about depression, marriage, faith, abuse, infertility, and much more. I guess the short “easy” answer is that I write about the world around me. I write about nature, relationships and whatever the Lord places on my heart. I also write about situations I’m going through as well as what I see others and the world around me dealing with.
Were there any books that influenced you as a child, to begin writing?
I loved Anne of Green Gables as well as the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As a child I’d spend hours making up stories and pretend play. I’d grind dandelions between two rocks and pretend I was a Native America grinding grain with a mortar and pastel. I’d tie our dog to a little red wagon and pretend that I was part of a wagon train moving west.
I always had a story or a song going in my head for as long as I can remember but I’d tell them to myself. It never occurred to me to write them down until I was in high school. When I was in 10th or 11th grade I took a creative writing class. I loved the class until the teacher said something to me in order to encourage me to improve my writing. I had low self esteem and I took it to mean that I was a bad writing and stopped writing. Looking back, I think she meant to challenge me in order to improve my writing but rather than challenging me, it discouraged me.
What is your writing process?
I carry a notebook around with me everywhere. I also keep one in the kitchen, next to the sofa, and in several other places in the house so that I can easily jot down ideas as the come to me. When an idea, poem, or scene comes to mind I jot it down so that I don’t loose it. I started doing this after I lost a poem idea one summer when I was canning. This poem was the result of that lost poem.
When I have some quiet time I sit down and look through my poem ideas. If one jumps out at me I ponder on it and start writing whatever pops into my head. I write until no more thoughts flow. Then I go back over what I’ve written see if any of the thoughts and ideas flow together. I take those and create a poem from them. After I finish the poem, I read over it and check it for grammar and spelling mistakes. After that edit I walk away from it and let it sit for a day or two. After a few days I’ll go back to it and revise it. Sometimes I’ll have a friend look over it and get their feedback before posting it. Other times I’ll just post it to my blog.
How many days per week do you aim to write?
I aim to write everyday. I’m not a morning person but since entering my 40s I can’t sleep past 5:30 AM. So now when I wake up and can’t go back to sleep I’ll write. I’ve come to cherish those early morning quiet hours. It’s peaceful and distraction free.
Do you prefer to type or write by long hand?
I write most of my poetry long hand and then type the final drafts on my computer. But my preference is to type. I don’t yet own a laptop and do most of my writing in the living room where the computer is not so I wrote long hand. 🙂
Do you have any tips for other writers that have come in handy for you?
Read, read, read, read! Reading is very important to writing. Also challenge yourself. Never say I can’t write poetry, a short story, etc. Instead read a lot of the genre which you don’t think you can write and give it a try. You never know what you can and can’t do until you try! Remember we are always growing and learning and we are never too old to learn something new. Most importantly never give up on your dreams. If there was something you have been wanting to do, then start taking the steps to make it happen. If you have been discouraged by others, don’t let their words hold you back take a step of faith and try it. You won’t every regret letting go of fear and stepping out in faith.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers?
I struggled with dyslexia. School was challenging for me and I came to believe the lie that I was stupid. Even though my parents tried to convince me that I was gifted and smart, I let the Enemy’s lie hold me back for years. That’s one thing that I regret. I wish that I had rebuked that lie rather than believing it and letting it dictate my life for so long.
It’s still difficult for me to read in groups because sometimes my brain likes to play tricks on me and I stumble over words but rather than running away from it, I do it. So my challenge is to you is to face that fear that has been holding you back for years and do whatever it is you’ve been longing to do but are afraid to try.