Friday, June 15, 2018

Until September!



Our academic year here in Florence, Italy, is (somehow!) coming to an end. We've experienced so much that I'm sure I'll be writing about it for years to come. We'll be spending the rest of the summer saying, "ciao, ciao," to our friends, city and many "last" bowls of pasta before settling back into life in Washington, D.C.

If you are interested in writing coaching, I will be available to meet with you in-person or virtually after Labor Day in Washington, D.C. Email me to schedule your appointment (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com. You can read more about my writing coach services and packages here.

I'll be back to blogging in September, too. Until then, maybe we'll cross paths on Twitter or my Writing Coach Facebook page.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

New published piece: Do Your Parents Have Amnesia About Parenting? (Hint: Yes)


I'm excited to have a new piece, Do Your Parents Have Amnesia About Parenting? (Hint: Yes), up at Sammiches & Pysch Meds today. I hope you'll read it for a laugh.


PS: This is not memoir. My parents and in-laws are very supportive. But my friends and the internet talk. A lot. I changed the details and braided in some fiction.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Birthday Wish: Donation to So Others Might Eat



So Others Might Eat is an outstanding organization in Washington, D.C., that helps those who need it the most. As my birthday approaches, I ask that you consider donating to this outreach organization. Click through to donate directly.

Here is their Mission:

SOME (So Others Might Eat) is an interfaith, community-based organization that exists to help the poor and homeless of our nation’s capital. We meet the immediate daily needs of the people we serve with food, clothing, and health care. We help break the cycle of homelessness by offering services, such as affordable housing, job training, addiction treatment, and counseling, to the poor, the elderly and individuals with mental illness. Each day, SOME is restoring hope and dignity one person at a time. We invite you to join us.

The Need

There are 8,350 homeless men, women and children in our nation’s capital. Nearly one in five DC residents live at or below the poverty line.

You can watch some of their success stories here

Monday, May 21, 2018

Writing Prompt for Getting Unstuck

A child wearing a hat and vest while looking through binoculars
Some people are afraid to write. Sometimes we are all afraid to write and we feel blocked. That "we" includes me, of course. The blank page can be daunting.

To get unstuck, I might start by looking closely at a physical object and writing down exactly what I see. Grammar, details and insight don't matter at this stage. The goal is to start writing a concrete description of something in front of me by looking closely at the object. How big is it? What color is it? If I were to smell it, what does it smell like? What about tasting it? What if I touched it? What textures are there? If I dropped it or knocked on it like a door, would it make a sound? (Yes, you're right: use your five senses to describe the object.)

You might set a timer and write continuously for five minutes. If you aren't sure what to write, you might simply repeat, "This is a stupid exercise." That should quickly bore you and you'll eventually get down to the business of writing something more interesting.

As you flex your so-called writing muscles, ideas might pop up. The object might appear to be a metaphor for something. Or you might start a scene in which you throw the object into a pool to watch the splash. Or maybe nothing comes of it, but, hooray!, you've written for five minutes and gotten started.

The key to breaking writer's block is to write. Write about anything. Write a list of what you did today and then look back over it for patterns, interesting words or insight into what you meant to do or did accomplish today. Everything is possible fodder for a piece that you can better explore in a later draft. And if you write something that doesn't go anywhere, that's ok, too.




Friday, May 11, 2018

Publications: Lyric Essay and Poems

I'm writing to share some publishing news -




Thank you to Entropy for publishing my essay Cement Foundation, which you can read here. I've been working on this lyric personal essay for years and appreciate the thoughtful feedback that friends have offered on various drafts, as well as Entropy's editor's advice. This essay, built around a clay statue of an Albanian woman churning butter, is about love found, love lost and life lessons that come with the passage of time.



I'm also excited to share that two poems about my miscarriage will be in the next print issue of Room Magazine. Friendship and music (a reference to Jovanotti's song Amami starts one poem) offer a starting point for these poems. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Carrots with Bones

What a ride! Black and white photo of a mural at Pinocchio Park.

Our almost-five-year-old child came home the other day and announced he wanted "carrots with bones." He said that the chef at his Italian pre-school prepares "delicious" carrots with bones. He declared my boneless carrots "not good."

Um, what?

I talked to his teachers to see if there was something, anything?, that might resemble carrots with bones. One teacher explained that since there are carrots in the meatballs that of course he thinks the carrots have bones. Another teacher reassured me that they do not insert bones in the carrots.

Huh.

Sometimes parenting, perhaps especially while living abroad, is 30% confusion. Maybe all parenting is like that. Writing is at least 30% confusion.

As we approach Mother's Day, I want to send a shout-out to all parents who are working to understand their world, care for their families, work and write. It isn't (always? ever?) easy to balance so many loves and responsibilities.

I wish we could rebrand "Mother's Day" and "Father's Day" as "Parent's Day." So many of us parent a child, whether we are the official guardian, birth parent, relative or friend. Our gender doesn't matter and drawing attention to it only excludes some parents and families. As a friend of ours would say to her child about loved ones, those of us who love and care for children are "their people." We are the ones the child can depend on, laugh with, cry with and and prepare carrots for -  with or without their bones.


For more on writing while parenting, you might enjoy these posts:
Cut + Paste / A Residency in Motherhood Radio Show
Guest Post: Writing Resources for Parents by Dr. DeMisty D. Bellinger