Each Wednesday we try to highlight some of the talented individuals who contribute their time, poetry and words of encouragement. This week we get to meet Daniela Miller a.k.a. Flying Monkey.
Will you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m originally from Germany, Saarland more specifically, which is a tiny county at the border to Luxembourg and France but I’ve been living in the southeast of England for 6 years now. During a sabbatical in 2003/04 I was first backpacking through Australia and then living and working at a Buddhist centre in London. I met my husband there and consequently decided to stay.
I am a practising Buddhist and try to spend some time on retreat with my teacher Dzogchen Patrul Rinpoche every year.
As for earning a living, I have always worked with children and young people. I have a soft spot for underdogs and the kids that feel like (or most often are made to feel like) they don’t fit in, i.e. I worked with young asylum seekers and immigrants in Germany and in England mainly with children with emotional, behavioural and social difficulties, ADHD, Autism etc. I’ve learned so much from these kids.
Recently I have been working in a more strategic role setting up projects for children and young people but will be made redundant at the end of March so who knows what will come next. I’ve started training as a Homeopath and hope to start practising it in a few years time.
As a character I’m friendly and curious. I get bored very easily and always need change and new ideas that grab my attention. I love animals and travelling and sometimes think that I would have made a great female David Attenborough. I’m on a journey and hope to be able to help others along theirs.
Please tell us about your blog, and what it means to you.
Starting my blog was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. When I started it, I was recovering from a writer’s block that had paralysed my creativity for several years, if not decades. I had no confidence whatsoever and no idea what to write or what about. All I knew was that I needed to write.
It was a prompt over at Sunday Scribblings that made me write my first post and I have since then responded to prompts from several online communities. Somehow that’s my antidote to the writer’s block. I let go of the responsibility to decide what to write about and just go with the flow of the prompts. Sharing my poems at first anonymously with an anonymous online community made me feel safe and helped me to put myself out there. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to all the people who have since commented on my posts, made me feel welcome and held my hand while I was learning to walk on very wobbly legs. It’s been amazing and I slowly feel like I’m finding my feet.
Can you remember writing your first poem? Can you tell us a little about it?
That was as a teenager but I can’t remember the very first one. I was writing a diary anyway and then started to write poems as well. I never showed them to anyone, though.
Will you give us some insight into your style of writing, or the style/form you prefer.
I like rhyming but I don’t think I’ve found my style yet. I admire poets who write beautifully flowing poems that don’t need to rhyme at all.
Are there any styles of poetry you find difficult or annoying, and why?
I’m struggling with Haikus. I don’t know why. I think I just don’t get them although I have come across one or two brilliant ones that just said everything there was to say in a few little words. So there’s hope. Who knows, maybe one day I try myself at one.
Do you write more than just poetry?
Yes, I also just ramble sometimes on my blog.
But what I would really like to write as well as poems are stories. But there’s a genre specific writer’s block in that area that I haven’t been able to lift yet. Maybe I’ll join a course or something to get myself going? Any ideas or advice on how to get started for a story virgin like me?
What poem, written by you, do you like the most, and why?
I don’t think I have written that poem yet ;-)
Do you have a favorite poet?
I generally prefer poems to poets. There isn’t a poet of whom I could say I like everything or even most of what he or she writes (myself included) but there’s lots of poems by different poets that I love.
Do you have any mentors?
No, but I think it would be nice to have one.
Do you have a favorite place to write? Are there certain emotions that inspire or trigger writing?
I don’t have a favourite place. I write a lot at night and I prefer writing on a PC to hand writing because it’s so much easier to play around with the words and change things.
Because I’m mostly writing in response to prompts, whatever needs to be expressed finds its way into the post, so no, there aren’t any specific emotions that trigger my writing.
What is your favorite type of music?
I like all sorts of music and it depends on my mood. When it comes to dancing however, it’s definitely house music.
Your favorite book?
I don’t have a favourite book but I do have favourite authors: T.C. Boyle, Hermann Hesse and Paulo Coelho. I like almost everything these three have ever written.
Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you or your writing?
I actually came across a fabulous writing quote shortly before starting my blog and it is now one of my favourites because it is so true: “The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.” Unfortunately I don’t know the author of it.
Any other creative passions?
No, not yet. But who knows what might happen.
If you could have dinner with any famous deceased person, who would it be, and where would you dine?
I’d love to have joined Hermann Hesse and his writer friends for dinner at his house in Montagnola, Switzerland. I can only imagine the inspiring conversations they have had.