Writing Prompt from a Quote


So I came across a post at a blog I follow by Ryan Lanz called The Writer’s Path (excellent posts and advice, let me tell you–I don’t think he knows how many times I re-read his stuff).  He does “Ten Quote Tuesdays” and I of course am late for it but I’m also going to take a different spin on it.  There are inspirational quotes in the post on writing and then there are prompts; I have chosen to use one of the quotes as a prompt for a post.

I couldn’t decide between Viktor Frankl’s (amazing survivor and writer) “What is it to give life must endure burning.”  Or Natalie Goldberg’s “Kill the idea of the lone, suffering artist.  Don’t make it harder on yourself.”

So here goes my simple blog post, Ryan, on “Kill the idea of the lone, suffering artist.  Don’t make it harder on yourself.”


My cousin Mike is on the phone, my lifelong best friend.  He’s sculpting on the other end and I’m sitting here, smoking in front of a blank screen.

“Hey, Amos, just pull a Hemingway,” he sounds distracted but concerned–he can always do a lot at once.

“Meh, I don’t got enough meds left and there’s no 7up for the gin.”

“Well shit man, I started on my Shandy’s since noon, got this sculpture just about licked.  Just get a couple drinks in ya, sit down, and just write.  Just let it come to you.”


So I get off the phone, bust out the wine, feeling like less of an artist because I don’t have bourbon.  I don’t even know what bourbon is.  I set up my laptop on the living room coffee table, turn on my Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder album, and wait.  And drink.  And wait.  Surely my demons will arise if I’m intoxicated, they’re here every other day of the week.

Before I know it my face is on fire and I’m quoting the lyrics from “Wild Horses” in an essay attempt to my sister,

...childhood living is easy to do…

of whom I’ve been having an on-going argument with.  I write as if she’s going to die, and tears are streaming down my face.  I can’t get past the lyrics so I sit.  And stop and think.  And drink.

Fuck this.  Fuckn’ A, Hemingway, you either started all your writing drunk and bloomed from there, or you didn’t really drink when you wrote.  I should know this…but he was brilliant!

I play sadder music.  A more complicated tune like Radiohead’s “National Anthem” to get me thinking and not focusing on words but guts.  I tried doing something high once–in my apartment in Eau Claire where I lived with three other girls.  I secretly and for the first time got stoned by myself, and I was going to write something Alice-ish.  All I did was draw though–and even the stoned-drawing felt presumptuous.  Rehearsed.  I have learned I cannot or maybe I just refuse to really allow myself to tap into what I have to say if I’m in any way intoxicated.  Man I wish I could.  I always imagine the freedom that must come with just saying “fuck it” and writing a master piece.  Clearly, this is not realistic thinking.  But it’s the romantic idea of an artist’s life.

Let’s face it, we suffer enough.  Even when I was really down and out and the “lone sufferer” I couldn’t write then, because I was too close to it.  It takes time, I hate to say, but the scary thing is how much time? Because before you know it the book never gets written, and you have a couple dozen poems and essays published that really, well, mean nothing but personal approval that “hey, I can write–they say so.”  This post depresses me.  TIme to really clear my head and go write!

Amy Jo



“My Why” 2010 & 2014

Comparing answers from 2010 and 2014 “My Why”


So I came across this folded up, wrinkled, worn piece of notebook paper in an old purse of mine that I used before and during my stays in the mental hospital. I recognize my scribbling and style, but I do not have any recollection of writing this nor where the questions came from. So I think it’s pretty neat that way, so I’m sharing it, even if I’m just sharing it with me. That’s what this is for I guess. Kinda.

  • What motivates me?

2010: Certain people outside of me (yes thats what it says…creeps me out) ANYWAY like Emma. I want to show her–teach her–that I can and will take care of myself and for myself hollysharpetoo–my inner passion and drive motivates me to want to live the hell out of my life. I don’t/can’t live in a world I create within my stories or within my fears and worries. I want to shine again, and believe that I can. All of my mistakes.

2014: wanting to live the hell out of this life; wanting the best for Emma–that’s motivation all in itself.

  • What interests me?

2010: …I don’t know yet…educating myself, learning to be prepared but not too much, learning to accept and live for the now, learn to relax. Get back to my art, photography, writing (get back to the fiction for a break), music. The art of friendship–that interests me.

2014: Writing poetry, essay, and memoir, I like sociology, psychology/abnormal psychology, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity–well I’m curious about all religions/faiths.  I love watching people and slowly taking them in, their judgments and then their changes.  I love the smell of fresh snow in the morning before the world wakes up and the sky is dark.  I love dreaming about the characters in my stories/memoir-to-be.  I love to imagine how it’ll feel when I finish it.  I know I will, unless there’s some freak accident, which of course is likely.  I love watching my little child blossom and grow and become.  I love to give her what she needs and tear myself down when I am not.  MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC.  From Ali Farka Toure w/ Ry Cooder to David Gray to Paolo Nutini to Hootie to Joni Mitchell to Michael Jackson to Rachmaninoff.  I love most all types except pop and most country.  Eh.

  • What would I do more if I could?

Read More

A Sarcastic Ass and a Poet

Well I am on a spree of sleepless nights (I wasn’t on my adhd med for a week and then took it late the other night–I’m all fucked up) so I thought I’d write to you about a few things: ADHD, a little on the moods in bipolar, a little Ptsd, destructive behavior, and sex.  Sound alright?

Well first, ADHD.  I’m in this group–it’s a totally limitless free-for-all for people with ADHD, and that is where I met the writer/blogger Tom Nardone (here’s his site, here’s his blog).  He has a hilarious view on ADHD (and it just so happens my ADHD is my only disorder I find quite funny).  If you get a chance, go read his stuff, and listen to his podcasts–total entertainment and eye-opening thoughts–he really gets you to look at yourself and think for yourself.


But he got me thinking about how ADHD effects my life past and present.  When I was younger it wasn’t so prevalent–except I couldn’t read books/textbooks–had no clue what was going on in English and History).  It has to/had to be very stimulating to capture my attention (and what I find stimulating are things on emotional/sexual levels).  It wasn’t until my twenties that I began to chase after things I could never catch (comorbid with the PTSD), I was abusing drugs and very sexually active (way too active–even though the PtSD blocked all orgasming).  Later in my mid to late twenties I couldn’t focus or sit  still.  I was (always have been) EXTREMELY impulsive–with words, with reactions, with money, with drug, with people.  The PTSD came into effect full force in 2009 and my brain was a scramble.  I had Read More

For Mike, a poem

How many nights have we spent
with our faces to the stars

your words are often poetry
and I, the writer, lean
back and listen, or
both of us so eager to talk
just like when
we were kids.
I have a history
with you like
no one else–

SevenTen Photos
SevenTen Photos

of dreaming and defining
and seeking and climbing,
and in the lateness of the night
when parts of us are dying, to each other,
on the phone,
taking turns
on each side of the river
of clarity and insanity.
I meet you there
more often than not;
sometimes the world
is too much for us
and we either break
or we are awakened–
holding hands and
contemplating the
tears in music.
Sometimes the world
is so big and stunning
that we can only
look up to the stars,
seeing our smallness
and smiling.


Broken Sidewalks, autobio fiction

image(another work in progress–my first fictional piece ever)

Strange how I can still remember the feel and sound of the stroller wheels over the broken sidewalks.  Bernie had babysat me since I was a baby, so with this memory comes the image and sound of him—rambling and gentle and always there—a thick, crumpled figure in a blur of summer’s blues and whites.

Bernie had suffered from polio as a child, giving him a limp on the left side of his body.  I remember listening to him talk with my mother in our kitchen.  Through the streams of smoke from my mother’s cigarettes, I could make out his towering height at the table.  He spat out his t’s and licked his hairy upper lip.
“Yeah I’m a catch!  No, don’t nobody pay attention to me and that’s just fine.  My hair turned white when I was only sixteen.”  He smiled at me through ancient teeth.  “Yeah, girls never interested me much, ‘course they din’t like me neither.  But I think sex, sex is gross.  It says in the Bible about Adam and Eve and I just don’t understand that part–that part about the forbidden fruit Eve took, but they musta had sex ‘cause otherwise we wouldn’t be here.  My mother, oh my mother she always liked reading the Bible and to go to, to go to church and stuff like that, but I din’t.  I never liked church.  My sister, Peggy, now Peggy–she always went to church with my mother but told ME that it ain’t true.  She’ll burn in hell for that.  Where does she think we come from?  I just don’t get it.  Some people are just so stupid.”
He looked at me as he said, “But you ain’t no stupid kid, are ya, Tony?  My sweet little Tony!”  He patted my cheek and beamed.  I’m certain I was his favorite.   Read More

Looking for My Father

"We believe in one God, Father the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth..."  I was raised a Roman Catholic.  I have painted my old Reeboks white so they look new; they're stiff as I walk downtown toward our apartment.  The steeple from my school and the lake behind it disappear behind the run-together row of clapboard bars, hair salons, and the broken down apartment buildings.  Lilacs are always pushing through the dirty fences and even they smell like cigarettes and beer.  Gum all over the sidewalk; gum in my mouth.  I look down.  I'm nervous every day at age eleven.  I am shy.  I do what I'm told and I have manners.  I pray.  I pray for my mother.  I pray for the holy force to make Joey Larson fall in love with me.  My shoes are dirty from the day--in the sunlight I see you can tell they've been painted and I feel for a moment delayed embarrassment.  One block to go and I pass the Cassaloma--the last bar before home.  The red door is held open by a rusted ashcan and hot, smuggy air permeates from the dark.  Bleach and smoke and beer.  Stale heat flutters my white blouse and I'm suddenly hot.  I take my ponytail out and peek behind my blond bangs, just to see.  I always have to see. There's the glare from the chrome of the barstool once my eyes adjust, and I see the silhouette of the man who's there, every day,at 3:20.  He doesn't move as empty ashtrays clang and spin across the counter as the bartender wipes them with white rags.  The sun catches in his big glasses that always magnified his blue eyes.  I want him to see me; I don't want him to see me.  I mouth the word "dad" just to see how it feels in my mouth.  It's just a fact--as my mother tells us--he has been an alcoholic since we before we were born.  A heavy woman in a Mickey Mouse shirt leans back from her stool and stares in my direction.  I can't risk her drawing his attention in my direction, so I walk away and wonder if Joey Larson saw my shoes in the sun.

Memory Retrieval

It’s Open Link Night 98 over at dVerse Poets Pub! Come share, read, and join in the fun!

In this sleepy little town

down behind the milkweed

to the hidden trail

that winds through the pines

and then,

MoxieMamaStudios Etsy
MoxieMamaStudios Etsy





just like that


and once the light

has teared your eyes Read More

Humming Birds (memoir)

Amy, you’re gonna get it,” Nikki tells me.  I’m hiding between the lilac bushes, Barbie’s head in my hand.  It’s our weekend at our father’s house.

“What’d you use?”
“Daddy John’s knife.”  I’m not afraid.  My father is harmless, even almost afraid of us.  It’s hhhhhhhhhhhikkoojimy stepfather I’m scared of.
“I’m telling!” And off she runs toward the farmhouse.  I fish for the knife in the pocket of


my dirty overalls and slice at Barbie’s pretty blue eyes so they open.  I sit and poke little holes where her pupils are and then I saw at her ratty hair.  I lick my bottom lip, almost got it.  A pleasure fills me.

“Amy!  You get in here!”  It’s Grandma Helen, I can see her wiping her hands on her apron through the lilac branches.

John, Nikki, and Me
John, Nikki, and Me

The white house is blinding but filthy.  The shutters are falling off.  My Uncle Bob saunters up the dirt driveway and tosses a beer can near my hiding spot.  He doesn’t see me, I breathe.  His hands, I don’t like his hands.
I wait for him to get to the porch before I emerge.  I stuff the knife in my pocket and leave Barbie behind.
“Amy what are you doing?  Give your daddy his knife back, you don’t belong with that.  Come in it’s lunch time.”  I race up the stairs and into the kitchen where Grandpa Leo sits in his brown leather chair that spins and spins when you lay across it.  He’s next to the window, above the lilac bushes, watching the humming bird feeder as usual, sipping his Old Style.  I know it’s time to be a little more civilized so I toss the knife on the table and take my seat.  Nikki and Jodie are already eating their Spaghettios from the chipped blue China dishes I always loved to look at.

The kitchen is a dismal yellow place with large wooden silverware hanging on the walls.  There’s dishes and beer cans and paper baqs all over.  the floor is a brown linoleum that slants down into the next room where grandma’s organ sits.  My sisters and I sing church hymnals with her on Sundays.  There are old jelly jars all over, filled with old fashioned candy, and lilacs fill white bubbly vases.  The floor then rolls into the dark living room.  On my tricycle I barely have to petal around the rooms.  Grandpa’s torn, black leather chair sits in the corner against the gray paneling.  The first time he gave me a sip of his beer I was sitting on his lap in that chair, picking at the white stuffing coming out of the arm. Read More

Fragile Things

At some point everything becomes clear. That doesn’t necessarily mean a good clear, but fact is preferred over fiction when you’re locked up in a mental ward. Again. And it’s snowing out–and worse–it’s New Year’s Eve and you’re thirtieth birthday is coming and you’re little girl must be looking for you. It’s all you can do to decipher the shell-shocked woman-child looking back at you in the tin mirror bolted to the wall above your sink. Here you get your own sink because this time, this trip into the bin, they knew it was much more serious than they had originally thought, and your “security” was upgraded. You have a thought you would usually have–that the upgrade only makes you feel more nuts–but at this point, you don’t feel nuts. You are nuts. I say to myself ‘I’m clinically insane’ and for a moment I believe it’s something to smile about. When the leading psychiatrist told me on New Year’s Day morning that I was clinically psychotic and suffering from complex PTSD, I thought about my mind–clearly–for a second, and I imagined a blue and orange brain-scan image showing clouds of sick. Then I slipped back into the room , in and out of dissociating, and the yellow walls were much too close and I could taste rubber in my mouth and then the Read More