“K.D. Miller sets a warm, supportive, encouraging tone.”
“… very well prepared, informative and stimulating.”
“One cannot help but bring down their guard and be open in the ‘safe zone’ that K.D. Miller creates.”
K.D. Miller is available to teach any of these workshops as half day, full day, or four-week courses. For a guaranteed minimum of six participants, she will come to your home, church, community centre or any other venue that you provide. In addition to her fee (based on length of workshop and number of participants) she will require reimbursement for travel and, for venues significantly outside Toronto, accommodation.
K.D. Miller specializes in teaching workshops and courses reflecting the spiritual hunger felt by many modern people:
"In 2001, I published a collection of personal essays titled Holy Writ: A Writer Reflects on Creation and Inspiration. The book assembled itself in a way I can only describe as furtive. The fact is, I had started sneaking to church. With two books of stories published, I was starting to believe in myself as a writer. But I knew that my belief system didn’t stop there:
“Writing stories is the way I pray. I’ve been telling myself that for years now. But what exactly am I talking about?…Isn’t there something fundamental about prayer that shows up the, well, the phoniness of fiction? I thought so for years. Then it occurred to me that to search for the right word is to search for the word that tells the truth. And the struggle to portray a character honestly, that is, free of cliché or stereotype, is a struggle to love that character… When I’m working on a story, I am, however obliquely, examining my own fears and failings and joys and hopes. If that isn’t praying, I don’t know what is.”
(from “Morning Prayer” in Holy Writ: A Writer Reflects on Creation and Inspiration. ©2001, pp 18-19)
Since the publication of that strange little book, I have discovered that though many modern readers may describe themselves as non-religious or even atheistic, they still want to grapple with The Big Questions: what am I doing here; does life have a purpose and a plan or is it just one thing after another; what does it mean to lead a good life?
Over the years I have been asked by publications and organizations to participate in activities and events that recognize and celebrate the link between the creative and the spiritual. Early in 2016, I joined Susan Scott and Christine Pountney in Issue 137 of The New Quarterly as we discussed “What We Talk About When We Talk About the Sacred.” And in September of that same year, I led a weekend retreat for The United Theological College / Le Séminaire Uni, taking as my topic “Telling God Stories.”
I am available as a keynote speaker, teacher, discussion panelist and moderator."
THE PAGE IS A STAGE: Directing your scenes, playing your characters
Readers and audiences have this in common: they care most deeply about characters, and remember scenes most vividly. The tools and techniques actors and directors bring to the stage are remarkably similar to the ones writers bring to the page.
In this workshop, we will examine our own and each others’ scenes for their dramatic potential, their ability to condense pages of narrative into action that happens in real time. We will identify the working components of a scene – event, beat, grounding, focal point and pulse. We will walk in the shoes of our characters – parsing our manuscripts the way an actor does a play script – asking ourselves where each character was before the scene began, what they want and what keeps them from getting it. As a final exercise, we will rewrite our scene from the standpoint of the character with the fewest lines.
Participants should bring copies of a short (3 pages maximum) scene from their own work in progress – one that includes interaction between at least two characters. This can be a prose scene, or a confessional or narrative poem. (If they prefer, they may bring a scene from the work of another author.)
Imagine Peter Pan without Captain Hook, Sleeping Beauty without Maleficent, The Silence of the Lambs without Hannibal Lecter or The Robber Bride without Zenia. No villain, no story. We may not like, respect or trust them, but we owe a lot to these unlovable creatures.
Furthermore, villains have evolved. Modern readers expect an antagonist to be as nuanced as their protagonist counterpart. So how do we as writers avoid turning them into cackling, moustache-twirling clichés?
Prior to the workshop, please comb your memory for:
- The loner. A relative, neighbor, classmate or colleague who was always the outsider – left out, forgotten, never listened to or taken seriously.
- The threat. Pinpoint an early memory of someone who scared you – a schoolyard bully, an embittered teacher, an irascible relative or neighbor.
It will not be necessary to share these memories per se with the group. They will, however, provide the raw material for exercises aimed at creating credible, three-dimensional villains your readers will secretly love.
(Note: the wearing of black Stetsons during this workshop is optional.)
Living the Questions: Writing Spiritual Memoir
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms or like books written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers… Live the questions now. (Rainer Maria Rilke)
The spiritual memoir, whether framed by a traditional faith or bounded by no faith, is one that addresses the big questions of existence and meaning. In this workshop, we will examine different approaches to spiritual memoir and identify some of the challenges the form presents. Through written exercises that focus on the influences that shaped our beliefs, we will discover and articulate the ways in which those beliefs continue to evolve.
Participants are encouraged to bring with them some form of “koan.” A koan might be an heirloom whose origin and significance prompts questions, or a memory or snatch of overheard conversation that makes no sense but cannot be forgotten. It is a puzzle that you know you will never solve, but that you sense will lead you to meaning.
“The Blank Page — And What’s Really Written On It”
is a creative writing course for beginners and those who are beginning again. Stuck in the middle of a memoir for your grandkids? Can’t quite reach that story or poem that’s tapping on the inside of your heart? Afraid to open the drawer where you once hid your novel? All writers face a “blank page” covered with their own inhibitions and self-doubts. Come do some listening, some talking, some writing and some sharing. Just bring a notebook, a pen and a yen to write. Take home excellent handouts, exercises and tips for getting your hand moving and your creative juices flowing. Best of all, make friends with writers just like yourself.
This course takes place over four weekly sessions, each lasting 90 minutes. I would be happy to teach this course in your home, church, school or community centre.
"THE SECRET WRITER" - A half-day journal writing workshop
A journal is a friend who listens forever, who keeps your deepest confidences, who forgives your rants and chronicles your joys. Still, the sight of that first creamy page in a brand new book can make you hesitated to pick up your pen. Whether you're just starting to keep a journal or have written every day for years, this half-day workshop will help you honour the richness of your daily life by putting you in touch with your secret writer.
Please bring a notebook and pen.
K.D. Miller is available to teach this course in your home, school, church or community centre. Suitable for up to 12 participants.
"PSALMS FOR OUR TIMES" - A half-day workshop
A psalm is a song and a poem and a prayer, all rolled into one. It can start with, "Thank You..." or "Why can't You..." or "Hey, You!" It can be a gripe or a rant or a manifesto or a love letter or a wish list or a hymn of praise.
In this half-day workshop, we will compose psalms for our times that express what we want to say to the Creator as we see Her or Him. Though our point of reference will be the Hebrew psalms, people of all traditions, or no particular tradition, are welcome.
Please bring a notebook, a pen and an open mind.
K.D. Miller is the author of the chapbook Psalms of a Boomer Consumer. She is available to teach this workshop in your home, school, church or community centre.