K.D. Miller – Writer

Though I have trouble wrapping my science-challenged head around this kind of thing, I would have to say that my writing space is four-dimensional. That is, it has as much to do with time as with place.

I write first thing in the morning in my west-facing sun room, which measures a little over 40 square feet. Before I touch pen to paper, I sit at one of my two desks, sipping coffee and watching the neighbourhood wake up. (I belong to the staring-out-the-window school of writers. ) From fourteen flights up, I spy on dog-walkers, joggers, briefcase-clutchers rushing to the office (as I did for 35 years), construction workers donning hard hats and school kids shouldering backpacks almost as big as they are.

my workspaceYes, I did say two desks. The one facing the window is for writing by hand; the other, which hugs the north wall to my right, holds my laptop and printer. As the work demands, I scoot between the two on my office chair whose wheels just manage to miss the living room rug behind me. Besides the two desks, I've managed to fit three filing cabinets into my 40 square feet, plus three sets of shelves, two lamps and a storage trunk. I take some pride in this Russian-doll compactness. It's a tangible reminder for me of what good writing does - namely, the most amount of work in the least amount of space on the page.

All the tools of my trade - paper, pens, dictionaries, stapler, 3-ring binders - are nested within arm's reach on shelves or in drawers. Tokens and totems decorate the walls: framed covers of my published books; posters commemorating book tours and literary festivals; a silhouette of a raven perched on a Celtic cross; a woven basket holding dried fronds from last Palm Sunday; a tiny corner bracket where a figurine of my favourite saint - Jude, patron of lost objects and hopeless causes - watches over me as I write.

When I was working, there were all kinds of practical reasons for adopting a morning writing practice. Now that I'm retired, I still head to my desk much earlier than I need to. It's not about need any more. I'm not sure it ever was. The decision to write first thing in the morning was made for me decades ago when I read Mavis Gallant's "The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street." In that story, a young woman who grew up in a large family confesses that she always used to rise before dawn in order to have some privacy: "You get up early in the morning in the summer and it's you, you, once in your life alone in the universe. You think you know everything that can happen. Nothing is ever like that again."



K.D. Miller was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1951. In 1973 she graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and English from the University of Guelph. In 1978, she graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Master of Fine Arts degree in directing.

Her first published story was “Now, Voyager,” which appeared in the May 1981 issue of Flare, and was the first-prize winner of that magazine’s literary contest. Since then, her stories and essays have appeared in Best Canadian Stories – Oberon 2008 and 2009, Maisonneuve Magazine, The Capilano ReviewCanadian ForumThe New Quarterly, Prism International and The Journey Prize Anthology. Her work has appeared in several other anthologies, and has been broadcast by the CBC.

K.D. Miller’s first collection of short stories, A Litany in Time of Plague, was published in 1994. Her second collection, Give Me Your Answer, published in 1999, was short-listed for the inaugural Upper Canada Brewing Company’s Writer’s Craft Award.  Holy Writ, a series of personal essays which explore the link between creativity and spirituality, was published in 2001. Her first novel, Brown Dwarf, was published by Biblioasis in 2010. Stonebunny Press published her third collection of stories, The Other Voice, in 2011. Her fourth collection, All Saints, published by Biblioasis in 2014, was short-listed for the 2014 Rogers Writers' Trust Award.  Late Breaking, her latest collection of linked stories inspired by the paintings of Alex Colville, was published by Biblioasis in September, 2018. It was listed by both Quill & Quire and the Globe and Mail as among the best books of 2018. It was also short-listed for the 2019 Trillium Book Award and long-listed for the 2019 Toronto Book Award. Most recently, it was long-listed for the 2019 Giller Prize.

K.D. Miller lives in Toronto.