By Nick Jordan
It’s not often that one wants to look back on the things they said in high school. But for Amber Miller, not only is she looking back at what she said; she’s allowing everyone else to do the same. Freshman year of high school is when she began her writing journey that all ended up being compiled in her first book, Skeleton of a Girl, which is now available to purchase on Amazon. Up until that point, she considered herself to be a jock, playing center for her school basketball team. But after that, she started to write as a way to cope with her insecurities.
“At first, it was just journals. And it was just my thoughts whether it be sad, happy, whatever. Eventually, every time I would write it would turn into a poem-like structure,” she explained.
Soon, this became an obsession of hers as she continued to buy journal after journal. She also transitioned into theater, something she continues to be passionate about to this day. Her love of theater is evident in her Hamilton-inspired poem that is included.
Like anyone else, Miller uses her Instagram to present the best version of herself with filters, good lighting etc. When it came to her book, however, she wanted to create a raw, honest depiction even down to the design of the front cover. Designed by a friend of her brother, she found herself stuck on the first sketch he presented to her. What appears to be her hunched over, clutching a skull to her face, Miller appreciated how minimalistic it was. And while the friend showed her edited versions of the same image, she refused to let him make any changes. “The book itself is very vulnerable, it’s honest, it’s open, it’s me. This is what you get. I can’t really change me too much, and I think that is reflected in the cover,” she said.
By the time she started college, she obtained a more serious view of poetry, both as a writer of her own and a reader of others. “I think once I started reading a lot into poetry I was like ‘I could do this’. Not to toot my own horn, but I know that it’s at that level.” BSU’s own Dr. Michelle Meek thought the same thing and helped guide Amber throughout the whole process. She had her set up an independent study where she got credit. Through this process, Miller ended up compiling hundreds of the poems she wrote, including ones that go back to her freshman year of high school.
“My first couple poems are very optimistic and innocent, that’s where a lot of my poems from high school are. I was also very naïve then. I was like ‘Oh, happily ever after, love, this, that.’ That was where I was during that time in my life.” And while she’s grown since then, she felt it was important to include this part of her. “Sometimes I feel like I shield that side from people, but it’s still there.”
The book itself is divided into four sections: heart, flesh, mind and bones. “At first, I was coming up with these long, lengthy words that nobody knew about. And then I was like ‘Nah, I’m just using the thesaurus too much.’ “Heart” represents the “vulnerable, sensitive” part of her. “Flesh” represents what she says is when she allows people to see that side of her. “Flesh gets hurt. It’s what people can penetrate through more easily. It’s harder to break bones than flesh.” The “mind” reflects how she analyzes hings and goes from pain to strength, her internal struggle. Lastly, “Bones” features her most recently written poems where she believes her strength is represented most. Following publishing, she wishes she had included more in this section. “I feel like it’s so important, after I just told everybody my heartache, to tell people how to get over it. I do feel I still did that, but I do wish I had more.”
And while she started writing these poems as a way to help her cope, in publishing these, she hopes to help others in some way. “I want this book to be that safety net that reminds you that you’re not alone. When people are in their happiest moments and they want to feel validated, or in their saddest moments when they feel like no one’s there.” Ultimately from this experience she hopes to further her confidence and be able to believe in herself more. Nevertheless, she says “Vulnerability is strength.” She’s right, and in that case, with this book she’s a heavyweight champion. She lifts things up but has no intention of putting them down.
Nick Jordan is the Opinion Editor for The Comment