I was nervous the first time I met Amy. I had just taken a job on the opposite side of the country. I knew a few people out there, and was dreaming of what this new adventure was going to be.
Walking into the office that first day, she was the first person I met. Calm, collected, and in control of the world at her fingertips. Without thinking, you start asking yourself “What is it that makes her tick?” She has this presence about her that fills a room with wonder.
Years later, I moved cross-country again and Amy had become a good friend. We were living in Portland surrounded by a great group of people. As freelancers, moments of in-between became moments of contemplation. We worked together at different locations most days. Switching coffee shops, day trips to the coast, and often earlier than happy-hour drinks to continue discussions of new ideas and ventures. Those conversations have become a back bone for me in recent years. Every conversation with Amy leaves you thinking of intention and how to be better; she's always trying to be better and helping those around her.
I first met Boyd as a young writer. Watching her grow into the force that she is, has been incredible. Her ideas and thoughts force you to adapt around her. Her words have eloquently become the voice of movements, the inner dialogue of my core group, and the witty joke that you mutter under your breath.
Amy plays in the background. She is the comedian, the writer, and the friend that will drive around the block one more time because your favorite song just came on.
You're one of the more bold people I have ever met. You follow through on your word and stick by the things you say. I think that's not as easy as the sound bite might make it seem. What got you to that point and how does it shine through in your writing?
Hm, thank you. That means a lot. Good question, too. My mom comes to mind. I owe my boldness and work ethic to her. She raised me alone for several years, juggling multiple jobs and making ends meet. She works tirelessly and she is not easily defeated and she follows through on her commitments. I have seen that firsthand on her toughest days.
I remember watching her figure out how to wire a ceiling fan because it needed to be replaced and we could not afford to hire someone. That's a really empowering thing to see as a young girl — your mom doing a not-easy task, what traditionally a man would do, and succeeding.
I don't know how it connects to being bold and following through, but it does for me. Something about her resolve to do what needs to be done, to not self-pity, to not let fear call the shots, to not get stuck on how it should be and instead show up and do the work. I try to model that same ethic in my own life and in my relationships.
As far as my writing, I think it makes me honest and yes, bold. Like, this is what I have to do as a writer — show up, observe, write it down. There’s no other way out. I can be scared and insecure and compare myself to others, but I still have to do the work. Even if that means writing about my messy parts and talking about things that affect other people. That’s my job; it’s what I have to do if I really want to be good at this thing.
Is there a theme that you want to tackle more than others?
I don’t know if there’s one in particular. A few keep coming up — our messy inner lives, loneliness, the secrets we keep, the awkwardness and tenderness of life. I like to talk about those things and bring them out into the open and find a way to laugh about them.
You mentioned earlier that writing is your job, its your time to show up and observe, at what point did that happen? I think we're all expecting a creative to be born with that "talent" like it seeps out of them from the womb, it wasn't immediate for you. When did you find it?
Yeah, I guess that's a story we like to tell because there's something special and exciting and rare and god-like about the innate creative. That was not me, exactly. I was always creative in some form — drawing, painting, crafting — but it's not like I wrote my first novella at age five.
It was a slower process for me. A couple things stick out though. The first is when my dad died. I was 12 and it happened unexpectedly. It was a lonely experience for a lot of reasons, but especially because I was so young; I did not yet have the capacity, or the coping tools, to understand and talk about what I was going through. So I wrote. I wrote all of my pain and grief and rage and fear. Because I felt most honest and accurate on paper; writing helped mend something.
The second thing is working at Invisible Children. I was hired out of college as the office manager. I ordered supplies and wrote sassy emails and answered the phone. But the leadership saw something in those emails and offered me the chance to write copy. That changed my career, but not before I googled what “copy” was. Because I didn’t know.
So I became a copywriter. At Invisible, I found my voice. Or I should say I found confidence in my voice. I learned how to write boldly, to say something that resonates with people, and to trust my ideas. That experience really shaped my identity as a writer overall, because other people saw something in my writing and took a chance on me.
Yeah that’s key. I can’t be creative in a vacuum. I do the actual writing alone, sure, but where I draw that from — what makes me creative — is vibrant relationships with interesting people. People who are working toward something, who are awake and interested in life, who are diverse and challenging and make me rethink things and want to steal something they said for a book. I wrestle internally a lot — I trample my own confidence or debate watching Netflix for the rest of my life, but I can’t get away with that when I am around people who aren’t checking out and who keep trying to forge something out of this life and who remind me that I have something to contribute, too.
Publishing a book. But I am also exploring other creative mediums like comedy and live storytelling. I want to do a lot of things but I mainly want to tell good, honest stories that make people laugh and feel less disconnected and more meaningful.