Amy L. Wink, Ph.D. Educator ~ Writer ~ Morgan Driver ~ Welshie Owner

Writing Mentor

Welcome to my website. I am the author of She Left Nothing In Particular: The Autobiographical Legacy of 19th Century Women's Diaries (University of Tennessee Press, 2001) and the editor of Tandem Lives: The Frontier Texas Diaries of Henrietta Baker Embree and Tennessee Keys Embree, 1856-1884 (University of Tennessee Press, 2009). You can find out more about my work on these diaries by visiting embreediaries.com. My essays have appeared on insidehighered.com, in the Austin-American Statesman and, most recently, in YogaPlus Magazine. I started learning to drive horses after I bought my first horse for my 40th birthday present to myself. I now own two Morgan horses, Will and Blessing, as well as 2 Welsh Springer Spaniels, James and Lily (not named for Harry Potter's parents but I'm okay with that connection.) I am now in my 30th year in the classroom and working toward a new book, Small Voices and Encounter Narratives: Notes from a Creating Life. I teach at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas.

Faith in the Gift

amywink February 2nd, 2018

Faith in the Gift

My mother used to tell the story of how, after she married my father in 1960 and enrolled in art classes at SMU, she had had to quit because married student housing required a fee of $70. When she told one of her art professors about the fee, he had offered her $70, which she refused to take. She told the story with a mix of pride and anger: Pride at her refusal to accept charity, pride at her choice to stop because of expense and also anger at her refusal to take the money, anger at her pride. But she favored the pride and often the story turned on how her pride had kept her from making a financial mistake. She told the story often, mostly when there was some choice to be made between money and creativity. Often when the choice was mine to make, my mother proudly spun her story out as a reason for quitting the pursuit of creativity because of the cost was too great, too foolish.

I did not hear the story like she wanted, though perhaps I actually did because I decided very early not to be a quitter if I could find the money: that money would not be the thing that stopped me in my pursuit of what I truly wanted. And yet, the story seeped into my consciousness and the voice of the adversary rises to grind me to a halt, reminding me that I will likely have to quit, that I will likely lose all I have worked for, that the pursuit of my creative happiness is useless and financially irresponsible and that I should give up my foolishness and accept a more conventional life. She is mean.

My adversary reappeared recently and I am not exactly sure what allowed that voice to start speaking, but speak she did and it was with hard talk that can give crippling self-doubt an overwhelming edge. And that crippling self-doubt seeps into everything to reinterpret my experiences and push me toward the darkness.

But I fight her. I push back against the dark. My friends push back against it and I know at these moments that their voices are far more accurate than the one in my head, she’s just closer, louder, with round-the-clock access and I have to take more decisive action to leave the argument, to turn from the devilish voice.
This week, I decided to take a leap for my writing, to take a chance for my work, to pay attention to the direction I am now pointed. My 2018 “intentions” include “Keep Creating” and “Seek Peace” and when I am writing, I am most at peace and am faithful to my gifts. When I am writing, I turn from the adversary.

But she can whisper.

As I prepared two brief selections for a manuscript contest–one from a completed manuscript, one I only just started– which I don’t usually enter because I understand the politics and marketing behind final selections, my adversary whispered, “You don’t have the money. How can you spend the money? You will not win. This chance you are taking useless. It’s money you are throwing away.” Still I worked while she whispered. My friends worked against her too. I knew that the entry was the risk. I didn’t need to know the final outcome. If I entered, I’d have taken the right risk, so that was my only goal: do not talk yourself out of entering. I pushed forward, until I added up the cost of the entry: $70. It might not seem like much but it seemed like a dangerous amount to risk. The adversary whispered.
Then, my mother’s story came back to me: “Married student housing cost $70 more. My professor offered and I didn’t take the money. I quit.” I shuddered and breathed, slow and deep.

When I asked her once why she hadn’t taken the money, she replied that she didn’t know how she’d pay it back. She hadn’t seen the gift that he offered with the money. My mother had turned down the $70 and with it, the gift her professor gave her, the gift of his faith in her art.

I paid the money. I let go of fear. I decided to have faith in my gift.

Be careful what you ask for

amywink December 14th, 2017

Be Careful What You Ask For

How difficult it
must have been
for my mother
who planned
and willed
and prayed
for a daughter
like herself, to realize
her prayer was answered
with some one more,
more real,
more powerful
more frightening
and yet more beloved
than she thought possible.

This daughter who would not
be molded like porcelain clay,
who would not turn her head,
even at her mother’s request,
but who would instead,
set her jaw and mind
against the boundaries
of her mother’s life
this daughter who would
continually push against
those confinements,
an uncompliant Eve,
intent to bend all arbitrary rules
to the point of breaking
so that we might all be freed,
into our own Edens,

This daughter, an answered prayer
for the freedom she was afraid
to know she wanted.

“I miss my little boy”

amywink December 3rd, 2017

“I miss my little boy”

In the presence of
our friend’s deepest grief,
the rending of her heart
tears at both of us
while we listen,
wanting to say
something,
anything
to ease her
unrelenting hurt,
as if words could
mend what only
time may change.

But there is
simply nothing
we can do
as she breaks
before us shattering
in grief
in anger
in fear
in longing for
her bright boy,
now gone.

In her wailing darkness
all we can do
is be with her
while she breaks
and breaks,
and breaks,

be with her in her
unfathomable pain,
be with her,
wordless,
be with her,
waiting,
be in her
present,
her broken
yet unbreaking
friends.

Isaac Unbound

amywink November 30th, 2017

Isaac Unbound

At least Abraham knew
what he was asked
to give, the gift
he had been given
for his kindness
and in his devotion,
and to our horror,
handed back.

This isn’t always the case,
knowing what we are asked
to give back, to lay down,
to prepare in sacrifice
simply because we
have been asked.

Perhaps that is the only way
to be able to bind
the precious thing,
the beloved gift
we hold in our hearts,
only because we have been asked
something we cannot refuse
because of devotion, or faith
or unquestioned understanding
of the more important call.

Simply because we cannot refuse.

God answered Abraham’s devotion
swiftly because who would have
hung onto that story if we’d had to
wait years for the ram in the bushes?
the knife forever poised over the child?
Wondering what happens between
the binding and the sacrifice?

Sometimes we do not know
all that we have given until
the work has been completed,
the dutiful task finished
and the gift
we’d bound returns,
increased by multitudes,
in abundance so astonishing
we stand in wonder
and disbelief
at the unbound future
until we realize our
Isaac is what we gave,
and to us,
our bright Isaac
returns, rising each day
unbound and
full of laughter

and we may again
hold close that
beloved gift
of our hearts
filled with joy,
filled with life.

Undiminished

amywink November 26th, 2017

Undiminished

Suddenly and slowly
freed, I am learning
to live undiminished,
to say yes and move
in directions
I might never
have chanced
before, just risking,
to see what may happen,
to see what may now
be true, out of what
was not always
true before.

I am always
moving now, toward
each chance for
joy, freely chosen,
unexpectedly
discovered by
the light of
this newly
undiminished self.

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