Interview with Miranda Keller, Q1 2018 Creative Nonfiction Runner-Up

Sunday, March 10, 2019
Miranda lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of 34 years. Her writings take the reader down so many paths of thought and feeling. She faces her own human struggles with courage and refreshing honesty.

She has enthusiastically coached her two sons and numerous students through the challenging aspects of the English language working as a teacher’s assistant. Her love of the written word is contagious. She has attended literary course work in which she excelled and is currently reworking her biography.

Read Miranda's essay here and then return her to learn more about her.

----------Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: "What If" is an essay that packs a punch and makes us all ask "what we do if in the same situation?" What was your writing and revision process like on this piece? How did you know when it was complete?

Miranda: As I sat in my car learning from this exchange with this young woman, I was hit by my connection to her. I went home and wrote in a spiral notebook what took place that day. I entered my experience into WOW’s writing contest with critique. After reading over the editor’s thoughts, I went to work implementing her suggestions, as best I understood them. Though no critique was made on my prologue, I read it repeatedly asking myself can my reader see it; can they feel the warmth of the rays shining through those trees; can they hear the taunts of my great grandmother; do they know she’s taunting me? Have I drawn my reader in to walk upon that discarded telephone pole, out of darkness into light? I knew the piece was done when my thoughts were all sewn together, when I had created a springboard to jump into what I intend to write next. (And honestly, I never think a work can’t be tweaked just a bit more!)

WOW: What are some of your favorite types of writing (essays, short stories, poetry, etc.)?

Miranda: I’d have to say I enjoy writing narrative essays the most. The more thought provoking, the better. For every essay I create, I layer one more chapter into my book.

WOW: What is your favorite writing or literature course you've ever taken and why?

Miranda: I’ve taken English 101 and 102, but those aren’t the classes I loved, though I excelled in both (A’s). As I entered high school, my entire life was sucked into a funnel cloud, leaving nothing but the scattered dirty laundry of all my family’s dysfunction on display. There was no way, at 16, I could knit together the work required to excel in an AP high school English class. My favorite instruction I’ve ever received from a teacher came to me via my son’s High school AP English teacher. I sat beside my son as he pored over his marked up papers. I learned writing skills I never knew existed. However, this wasn’t the only way my mind was shaped into a writer. I heard a teacher I worked for tell her students to ditch every “Be” verb and replace them with stronger more effective verbs to make the writing more engaging. I gleaned from that same teacher- say what you need to say, erase unnecessary words; more is not better. I went to a required writing class for my job called Step Up To Writing. I loved it. This course really helped me with methods to organize and generate thought. This process helped me. Step up to Writing drove home the power and necessity of a topic and conclusion sentence. I would look at a student’s work, see no topic sentence, look at the kid, read out loud his points, ask him what are you talking about, and his eyes would shine as he spit out his own topic sentence. This technique also made unrelated sentences more obvious to see. It made me a better teacher and, I like to think, a better writer. Why do I write the way I do? Philip Yancey, Editor for Christianity Today. He said if you are going to tell history, make sure you make your reader live it. His instruction changed every sentence I write. Life and words of wisdom from teachers who know more than me have shaped my writing. I owe them the honor of paying attention and pouring out my words.

WOW: The Pacific Northwest sounds like a beautiful place to live! Do your everyday surroundings serve as inspiration for your creative writing?

Miranda: YES! A lot of people hate the rain, not me. I love it for its comfort and inspiration. The sound of it hitting my roof, sliding down my drainpipe wraps me in peace. The smell of summer rain splashing on hot pavement soothes me. I love birch trees singing in the wind. I love the creek dancing beneath those two retired telephone poles. The Pacific Northwest never ceases to inspire my thoughts, which translate into the words of my soul. It’s the perfect place to tell a story.

WOW: How did you hear about this contest? Do you try to build writing contest submissions into your regular writing schedule?

Miranda: A friend of mine told me about the contest. Yes, I write pretty consistently. This is the only place I’ve entered writing contests. I intend to submit more of my work.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Thanks for doing this interview.

Miranda--The Pacific Northwest... Ah, I've only been there once, but it was a life-changing trip. I only got as far as Oregon, but was amazed by the diversity. There are forests--like a rainforest. There are mountains. There is a desert.

Today it rained most of the day, and I can imagine how rainy days could make me write more consistently.

Congratulations on making it as a runner-up, and good luck with your future writing endeavors.

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