Amy Alward


Amy is a dreamer, a cyclist, and fan of unusual or bizarre beauty. She first struggled with writing at the tender age of three, practicing her own name endlessly in black crayon in the back of a book she couldn't read on her own. She also took chalk to the unfinished walls of the new garage. No matter how she tried, the letters came out backwards and in reverse order. Hot tears and screams of rage led to wrist biting that she never let anyone else see. (But those secrets meant her sister got in trouble for the garage, because Mom thought Amy far too young to be the culprit.) Once a classically trained singer, a temp, a hospital administrator, a professor of accounting, and a scientist (not concurrently, of course), she now earns her keep in Southern California as a massage therapist, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic practitioner, and author. She's still trying make the words come out the right way, and you can catch her latest thoughts on her blog: Mom to two unique teens and two Siamese cats, life is never dull. In her spare time, she can be found supporting her cycling family at various charity rides, including working with the good folks at the AIDS/Life Cycle. She looks forward to leaving the bustle of urban life one day and having a massive organic garden to putter in.

Smashwords Interview

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do! In first grade our teacher put together blank books for us from that wide-ruled paper you use in the primary grades. Then she had us write in the books: stories, research, essays and poems. I remember how excited I was at the prospect of writing my own stories in my own book! And then the reality hit as I stared down a blank page with that fat, stubby pencil suddenly dry of words.

I look back on the struggle I engaged in (first with having nothing to write, and then with the struggle to physically transfer the words to the paper) with much better understanding these days. My place on the autism spectrum means that I often navigate the world according to a pre-planned script, and it was difficult to face that blank paper of infinite possibilities--the place where my script was firmly ripped from me and my own words had to bubble to the surface. After I did find words to write, however, it wasn't such a smooth process and the other part of my autism kicked in: physically writing down what I meant. I remember the intense frustration I suffered when I couldn't remember how to spell the simplest of words when trying to compose--words I had been reading for years at that point and could spell when not trying to write a sentence.

I specifically recall the struggle on how to spell 'of', and my teacher encouraged me to just write through it, spell creatively just get it on the paper. I look back on her influence now and realize how much of a gift she gave me back in that stuffy classroom; through her encouragement I learned to let go my innate rigidity and keep trying without self-judgment. Thanks to her, I am able to rely on my own words pouring from my fingertips far better than my voice. Sure, my spelling is still very unreliable, and the more exhausted I become the more my syntax and grammar unravel as well. These will always be with me and my neurology. But the gift of storytelling goes back to Miss Round's help and my deep desire to fill blank pages with my own words.
Describe your desk
A mess most of the time! I waver between surgically clean work space and complete clutter. I think better when the environment around me is sparse: clean lines, no loose paper, little decoration and no frills. I could easily write in a 60's bus station if I could also get wifi. Unfortunately, life is messy for me. As an autistic, there is a "groove" I get into when I'm concentrating that allows me to pretty much block anything else out. Many of my projects require this kind of focus, and often things get shuffled aside when I get to steps that can't be completed in the time I have available. This leads to chaos on my desk and piles of half-completed paperwork, or half-drunk cups of tea. Seeing the almost done stuff reminds me to tackle it as soon as I can, but what frequently happens is I start to get blind spots to keep myself from worrying and then...I can no longer see the mess. When things start getting lost in the piles, or forgotten deadlines loom, things tend to get mucked out--everything back in extreme and rigid order. This generally doesn't last long, though, and the entropy that rides in my wake starts to creep onto the desktop once more.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Amy Alward online


Unmasked at Last: poetry of a midlife journey to identity and autism acceptance
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 14,600. Language: English. Published: June 27, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir
Poetry of an autistic woman pre- and post-diagnosis at midlife. Her search for identity and autism acceptance is chronicled in this volume of free verse poems. Resources and explanations are included to help others find support and community. Women on the autism spectrum are frequently diagnosed at midlife, and this book is offered to help them find themselves as well.

Amy Alward's tag cloud

autism    autism acceptance    memoir    poetry