Terri Miller attended the very first Southern Christian Writers Conference annual workshop back in 1991 when it was held in Birmingham, Alabama at Samford University. Since that conference, she's continued to work toward her writing dreams as she relies on her faith as a way to share "a hope that would not otherwise be there."
I recently had a chance to talk with Terri about her life, faith, and writing. Her experiences are especially encouraging to those new writers in our midst.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I've always known I wanted to be a writer. Even as a young girl, I was fascinated by the way things were said or written and by the fact that words could stir the deepest places inside of me. I began to write poetry in junior high and was the weird kid who liked to write essays and book reports. I have always written in some form or other through the years whether logging accounts of my children's shenanigans or creating documentation for my job.
What sort of writing do you specialize in? Have you been published?
I enjoy examining everyday moments in my writing, looking for the deeper meaning and the heart connections in what appears on the surface to be mundane. That's the theme of my blog Life Is Moments (https://lifeismoments.blog/)
I'm also an aspiring fiction writer and am currently working on writing a novel set in the south on a cotton farm during the depression. It's a story that's been brewing in my imagination for many years, and is finally beginning to take shape. I've received so much encouragement from the SCWC conferences, workshops, and other virtual events like Resource Saturday. I'm learning that the most important thing is to keep on writing.
When the call went out for submissions for the 2019 SCWC Flash Fiction contest, I decided to take a chance and create a piece. My entry entitled "Assurance" was awarded first place which was a huge confidence builder.
I recently had my first article published in the Summer 2020 edition of Reflections Christian Magazine. It's a childhood account of an event involving my brother and matches entitled Punishment That Brings Peace, .
Another article, A Dark and Stormy Night in Quarantine, has been accepted for publication in the upcoming "COVID-19 Moments" book which is one of a series of Moments books. I do not know the publication date yet.
These opportunities presented themselves through writing groups that I'm part of. I would encourage all writers to be part of a writing group where they can be encouraged and inspired. It's a great way to find resources and opportunities and make connections with other writers.
Do you write full-time or do you work in another capacity professionally?
While I dream of writing full-time, for now I remain employed as a software engineer (fancy title for a programmer) at the company I have worked for since 1997. Finding time to write is probably the dilemma for most writers. Some days I can only manage a half hour, and I have, on occasion, taken a vacation day or two for the sole purpose of putting words on the page.
What are you writing dreams, and what are your plans for the future?
My dream for many years now has been to write a novel. Back in the early 90's, I was part of a local writer's group where I learned about and attended the very first meeting of the SCWC held at Samford. I returned from that pumped and ready to write. I spent many hours researching and planning the great American novel and even wrote a few chapters.
After having two children and going to work full-time, my writing was put on the back burner. Through the years, I wrote a few poems and made a handful of journal entries. I attended an SCWC conference here and there which kept me inspired and dreaming about the future.
After the boys left home, I found myself with more time and the desire to write was rekindled. I began journaling on a regular basis. The more I wrote, the more ideas I had. After attending the SCWC conference in June of 2019, I felt empowered and inspired to begin my own blog. Not long after the conference, a friend asked me to help her start a local chapter of Word Weavers International. We held our first meeting of the Columbus, Georgia chapter that August, and one year later, I've taken over as president.
A short time later while cleaning out my son's room to turn it into an office, I found the research and the first few chapters of the novel I'd started almost 30 years before. As I looked over my notes and read the chapters I'd written, I thought "That's pretty good." I've taken it up again and work on it every chance I get.
My dreams are a little more realistic this time around. Rather than hoping for the great american novel, I'm shooting for a finished novel that's published.
How role does faith play in your writing?
I think when faith is a part of who you are it's reflected in everything you do. My faith gives my writing an element of hope that would not otherwise be there. Faith allows you to look through a redemptive lens into a situation seeing it for what it is and beyond that to what it can be. As Christians we have something of true value to offer the reader.
What else might your fellow SCWC members like to know about yourself?
I live in a small southeastern town in Alabama, not far from the Georgia state line. In fact, I work in Columbus, Georgia for a company that i've been with for over 23 years. We have a 14-year-old Boston terrier, Gabby, who allows us to live with her as long as we keep the treats coming. I've been blessed with 34 years of marriage, two amazing sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. I love to garden, cook, bird watch and spend time with my family. You can often find me on the back porch writing.
Read Terri's recent story here: https://reflectionschristianmagazine.com/summer-2020/punishment-that-brings-peace-terri-miller/.
Read Terri's flash fiction story for the SCWC: https://www.southernchristianwriters.com/post/flash-fiction-contest-winners
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If you'd like to be featured in the "Member Spotlight" on the SCWC blog, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to recognize members like Terri, and encourage you all to continue to pursue your writing dreams.