A few months ago I received an email from the super talented Amy Turn Sharp introducing me to her friend Amanda Page. Amanda and I chatted a few times about some ideas she had for a course with us and thought we had one nailed down. Then one day, Amanda emailed and said she couldn’t stop thinking about this idea for a course to write the conflict between who you are and where you’re from. Needless to say, we shelved the other idea and went for this one, which we now call Home is a Hard Lesson.
Amanda is a writer and a coach, but she’s also an explorer and a dog lover. I thought it would be fun to get to know her a little better so I put together this interview. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I do.
Becoming a writer is often a Pandora’s Box for many people. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I was writing little novels for my dolls when I was a kid. And when I say “little novels,” I mean I was writing stories on pieces of paper no larger than a dime, stapling them together (with one staple) and putting them in my dolls’ hands. But, I think it was in junior high that it really clicked. I was keeping a journal and writing poetry. Then, I started writing a novel based loosely on my life at the time. I was in the eighth grade. It stuck, though. I’ve been actively writing or dancing around writing since.
Do you have daily practices that help you work toward long term writing goals?
I’m devoted to doing “Morning Pages,” the three pages every morning as recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. I manage to do them for long stretches of time (3 to 6 months) and then take a break. I wish I could say I do that with the novel I’m working on. It’s written more in bursts. I did just “get back together” with an old writing group. We’re each going to focus solely on one project. I think that’s key: working on one thing at a time. Plus, accountability is important. That’s why it’s nice to have groups or classes that keep you on track.
Do you have a favorite author and/or poet?
I’m going to say that my favorite author is Truman Capote. Just saying that makes me feel guilty for not choosing Joan Didion, Carrie Fisher or Amy Hempel. But “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is the book I wish I’d written. By the way, it’s very different from the film. Anyway, I think that bumps Capote up to the top of the “favorites” list. I like writers who can jump back and forth between fiction and non-fiction. Or blend them. He does both, and blending, so well.
One of our Emerge teachers, Liz Lamoreux, talks about how we all have super-powers. Recognizing joy, creating magic, being present. What is your super-power and how do you use it in your day to day life?
I’m a good listener. I think all writers must be. Either they naturally are good listeners or they develop the skill. Listening is about understanding. I seek to understand what is being said to me, as a writer, a coach, and a teacher. It’s important for me to really hear clients and students. And friends.
Do you have other hobbies outside of writing? Do you use them to inspire your writing?
Well, I’m obsessed with my dogs, like most dog people. I’ve been writing short essays about them lately. I love to travel – anywhere. A one hour road trip to see haystacks is right up my alley. I like quirky festivals and museums that feed my interest in the absurd. I will play skeeball every chance I get. And I like to walk labyrinths. I like to take walks – just around my neighborhood. That’s how I come up with first lines or figure out a tricky piece of writing. Walking, with or without the dogs.