Amy Thompson taught English and writing before becoming a freelance writer. Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction have been published in many journals and magazines, and she is one of writers contributing to InkSpotter Publishing's upcoming anthology Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra. She currently resides in South Dakota with her family and owns Prairie Fire Gallery and Studio, her own art gallery.
IS: What motivated you to start writing?
AT: At a very early age I knew pain. I knew what it was like to not have a voice, to hold everything inside. So, when I was about 11, when I discovered I could write what I couldn’t say, it was a release of this monstrous power that I never knew I had. Writing has always been confessional for me.
IS:What is the primary source of inspiration for you?
AT: My life experiences, whether my own living or what I have seen others experience, have been my choice of content. Whenever I have tried to write about something I do not know or have not felt, it’s always been a disaster.
IS:Do you write when the muse strikes, or do you follow a writing schedule?
AT: I was taught that you need to set a daily schedule and write no matter what you write about. I’ve tried that—it’s miserable for me. I’ve now chosen to write when I feel like writing—when a feeling or scene hits me. I no longer push myself. I can sit on a poem for years before I go back to it for revision. That lack of process or schedule doesn’t bother me anymore.
IS:Please describe your process.
AT: I’m a big believer in freewriting, even when writing poetry. My process of writing begins by writing it all out of my head. I then “cut my darlings.” That’s it. I’m not one for processes anymore.
IS:What have you done to promote yourself as a writer?
AT: My main promotion as a writer is entering individual works into a few contests and publications. It hasn’t been until recently that I have put together two manuscripts, Twisted Apples and Giving Up My Ghosts: The Women I Carry. I am just now entering into the world of book publishing. It is a whole new world of publication that I need to get used to.
IS:What's left to do?
AT: In my life, I have much to do. I’m relatively young. I have a young family. I have a lot left to tell the world about the world.
IS:When did you discover your unique voice? How long did the process take?
AT: I was about 11 when I discovered writing in general, but I’d say it was in high school that I discovered what I later learned was confessional poetry. It wasn’t a process—I just wrote that way. I didn’t want to write about anyone else, about a tree—I wanted to write my life—so I did.
IS:What do you consider your greatest achievement as a writer?
AT: This is a tough one. I have this narcissistic dream of having a book published. It hasn’t happened. That would be my greatest achievement. But, right now it’s every time I am published. I get as excited as the first.
IS:What's the most recent book you read?
AT: I just went back and reread Ariel (Sylvia Plath). It was fun to read the notes I had made in the margins.
IS:Who are the writers you admire most?
AT: The Confessional poets; most certainly Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Elizabeth Bishop.
IS:What's your best piece of advice for novice writers?
AT: Don’t take rejection and criticism as devastation. Take each person’s opinion/advice with a grain of salt. What one person likes, another won’t. When I first started letting others read my work, I took every criticism to heart, I doubted myself, my writing; thought I should give up. But with each criticism, my skin grew thicker, I honed my voice, my eye and soon I was picking up on my own mistakes and could call bullshit on some comments from others. Confidence, ego, patience, vulnerability, craziness, sense of humour and narcissism are what you need. Writing, I believe, is one of the hardest gigs. Sometimes I don’t know why we do it!