The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Featured Diarist: Angela Miller

Angela Miller, one of the diarists for Tranquility Taverna, gave us this inspiring interview:

1. What psychological differences do you find in writing in a physical journal and a blog?

When I’m writing a blog entry, I know someone else will read it so I try to balance negative comments with positive ones and to use identifiers such as my sister. I’ve been told my blog is ‘too personal’ and one former reader complained she felt like she was invading my personal thoughts when she read it but I’m less open on my blog than I am in my physical journal.
I also avoid using the blog as a place to write down story ideas. Some things are too personal to put on the internet.

2. In your blog, Introspection, you talk a lot about your wonderful, insightful children. How do your children inspire your writing?

It’s fascinating to watch my daughters interact with each other and with the world around them. They’re always calling attention to different things. One might point out a tiny purple flower while another calls my attention to an ant parade and the third wants to be sure I see the squirrel in the tree. They remind me to pay attention to details and demonstrate how strong sibling bonds can be despite different personalities. Those things come through in my writing. The girls are fun to brainstorm with, too. I give them a basic idea and sit back while they spin
tales for me. Their enthusiasm ignites my own and many times a word they use sparks pages of notes for a future story.

3. You’re an Angel to several soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. How did you get involved in that? How does your work as a writer help in your
support of the troops?

All my life I’ve listened to two of my uncles and my father talk about Vietnam. Every time they mentioned the war, they talked about how much a letter from home meant to them. Each one of them would name a comrade who never got mail from home and ‘just gave up.’ My uncle once talked candidly about feeling like nobody cared if too much time passed without a letter from
home. As soon as troops deployed to those areas, I knew I wanted to do something. I believe we should all do what we can and that we all can do something to make this world a better place. I found an excellent site for one time support ( ) but I wanted to provide ongoing support so I kept looking. I admit I had a list of requirements for the org so it took a while to find what I wanted. I’ve been with Angels ‘n Camouflage ( ) since last August. I can’t say enough good things about the organization or the other angels involved. The organization was started for veterans and expanded to include deployed service members, then veterans incarcerated and most recently made public a willingness to provide ‘adoptions’ for troops from the UK and Canada (where there aren’t any soldier support programs). I’m an angel to four veterans, three of them incarcerated, through Angels 'n Camouflage, too. As an angel, I write weekly letters to my ‘adoptees.’ People usually ask, “What do you write about?” Anything, everything and nothing at all once. Really. I don’t hear from most of my adoptees and don’t expect them to write but I never run out of things to put in the letters. I think that comes from being a
writer and finding inspiration in the smallest things. Out of the six soldiers I’ve supported during the past year, one has been in touch with me. It’s easier to write letters to her now but it’s never hard to write ‘my guys.’ I’ve described the view from my window just as spring crept across the Earth. I’ve written about things I did as a child like the table I built for a Girl Scout project and nicknamed “The Wobbler.” I’ve filled pages with writing updates or silly stories about my kids and, of course, I make sure each letter carries a message of appreciation for
all they’re doing (or have done in the case of my veterans). Each letter is written with the knowledge I may never hear from the soldier whose name appears at the top of the page. I like to think the letter makes them smile and that’s what being an angel is all about for me.

4. Was there a specific inspiration for your romance serial, When Fate Steps In? Would you share that with us?

While looking at pictures from a trip my husband and I took to Gatlingburg, TN I started thinking about what might have happened if the cabin we rented hadn’t been available that weekend or if it had been double-booked. The next thing I knew, I had written a couple thousand words of a story that continues to surprise me more than 400 pages later.

5. What advice do you have for women balancing writing and families, who worry that personal fulfillment takes away from their families?

I don’t know if I have any great advice but I do have a story to share. For five years, I devoted myself to being the best wife and mother in the world. I paid a high price for that. I didn’t even make time to read a book for my own pleasure and I certainly didn’t write. Most of my friends drifted out of my life and I started to depend on my husband more than ever. My increased dependence frustrated him and created more tension in an already difficult situation. The more I depended on him, the more he pulled away from me. He started to lose respect for me, my self-confidence plummeted and we quarreled often. My family took advantage of me because I didn’t have enough self-confidence to tell them no when they asked me to do something for them. One day, during a pity party, I got a glimpse of my future and what I saw left me
shaken. I saw my mother! From the moment she had her first child at 17, my mother devoted herself to her family. I never knew her to have a friend or a hobby. She wouldn’t even put together a jigsaw puzzle unless one of her kids was doing it with her. At almost 50, Mother is one of the most unpleasant people I know. She’s angry, bitter and her self-worth is still tied
to her children. I make up things for her to do at my house because she needs to be needed. The more I thought about it the more women like my mother I identified, women who gave up their identities when they married and had children and are now looking back at lives filled with regret. When I realized I was doing the same thing my mother and others had done, I started making changes. My self-confidence has soared and I’m happier now than I have been in a long time. It hasn’t been easy to get to this point and I’m still having to remind people about the boundaries. I won’t go back to the woman I was for anything. My daughters see a woman with her own interests and dreams, a woman excited about the future. They think a woman can do
anything she sets her mind to. I can live with that.

Thank you, Angela! Visit her blog, Introspection, and her serial, When Fate Steps In.

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