Last week the creative Wild Woman behind Sprout, an online magazine, shared her thoughts on being an artist, color, inspiration, and so much more in Part One of her interview. Fresh off the publication of the latest issue, Possibility, Amanda Fall gives us more insight into her world (along with another fantastic collage. PS? I want her jewelry!).
You’ve talked about a feeling of kindred creativity with contributors. What advice would you give to people submitting work? Anything they might avoid?
As I’ve settled into this strange and wonderful new role as editor (I’m used to being on the other side of the desk), I’ve learned that there are a handful of things I especially love to see in submissions: honest seeking. Thoughtfulness that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Fresh language that finds new ways to address old concepts. Tenderness that also knows when to be strong.
Although I don’t need work to be confessional, I do tend to gravitate toward submissions that are not afraid to reveal the writer—honest, brave explorations into our place in this wild and beautiful world. In my own life, I’m tired of wearing masks—I’m ready to put my real, perfectly imperfect self out there. And when writers and artists are willing to share that same openness with Sprout? Love! (And there are definitely ways to incorporate this same kind of feeling even in fiction, poetry, and artwork. They don’t have to be real to be true.)
The best advice I can give for people wanting to submit is the same that any publication will give—read our pages. Get to know us.
Having worked as a contributor for you, I have to say you are a delightful editor. You make the writer feel so special and such a part of a collaborative community. How do contributors fit into your creative process when working on an issue?
Thank you! That’s my goal. I want Sprout to foster community. We are always stronger together than we can be apart (as long as that togetherness allows for space between, for our lusciously different selves to breathe and be separate).
My contributors—oh, they humble me. I am amazed at the talent appearing in the pages of Sprout. I currently have a circle of seven regular contributors (bless them) who see behind the scenes, who help keep me grounded (while still challenging me to experiment), and with whom I can bounce ideas back and forth. Then I have an assortment of one-time or occasional contributors, who usually submit with less input from me. This combination of regular and occasional contributors helps keep the material fresh, and helps me stay open to spontaneity.
I’m honored and excited to work with and around both kinds of contributors, incorporating an assortment of my own poetry, photography, artwork, and more. Sometimes I create my pieces in response to the other offerings; sometimes I’ve already written, painted, or photographed work that surprises me by how much it echoes another’s thoughts. This back-and-forth collaboration keeps me feeling alive and eager and aware of how incredible it is to find your “tribe”—people who walk parallel paths with your own.
In Sprout we all grow together, with our richly varying experiences also gaining depth in their commonality. We all love. We all laugh. We all want to find beauty and meaning even in our messed-up and sometimes mundane lives. Together, we help each other see.
I first heard about Sprout through the divine Jodi Chapman, who has also interviewed you, and the two of you speak highly of each other. In the spirit of your previous issue’s Friendship theme, how do you cultivate meaningful relationships in an increasingly virtual world?
Jodi is such a sweetheart! What a kind, genuine soul who brings such goodness into the world.
The Friendship issue makes me a little teary-eyed, honestly. I’ve never made friends easily. As someone with social anxiety, shyness, and high sensitivity, it’s hard for me to reach out and find new friends in the offline world. This issue helped reinforce my discovery of the past few years: “real” relationships—the deep, meaningful ones—require honesty, gentleness, and being ourselves . . . no matter what that self looks like.
Lately, I’ve found that the more freely I am myself, the better my relationships are. Sometimes it does mean that certain connections may fall away, because when we’re no longer able or willing to hide our true selves, you learn pretty quickly who loves you for who you are—and who has been merely tolerating you. But the people who embrace you for the real you—the zit-faced, dirty-house, sometimes-moody, yet beautifully complex you—oh, those relationships are the ones you can count on, even at three in the morning.
More directly, though, regarding this being an increasingly virtual world—I am forever grateful for that development, since it’s a huge help to me as someone who is “different” and may need to reach further to find like-minded and like-hearted people. That said, though, in online contact, I think it’s vital to find ways to remove the veneer—to show the real person behind the glamorous Instagrams and the sometimes misleadingly perfect status updates.
In-person, too, I think it’s important to de-virtualize when possible. Spend time together. It’s that’s simple. Nothing beats an around-the-campfire conversation or board game night or taking a walk together. Simple. No pretense.
As someone who is following her dreams, what words of wisdom would you give to other aspiring artists about pursuing their own happiness and fulfillment?
Here’s one big thing I’ve learned in my Sprout journey: love the process. Find joy where you are right here and now—not just in some far-off dream that may or may not ever come true. There is beauty right in front of your nose. Even dishwater bubbles make rainbows. I’ve found that when I pile all my desires onto one dream, I miss so much of the everyday grace that surrounds me. When I focus on the good right here, right in the middle of my life’s mess, I find a deeper calm.
When I have that calm, when I’m practicing gratitude no-matter-what, then I’m much more open to finding fulfillment in unexpected places. I used to be so black and white in my thinking—one way or no way. In that tight and fear-based space, nothing ever feels good enough. When I come from love (and return to love, again and again), happiness and fulfillment aren’t something I have to struggle for—they are simply here, in the most perfectly imperfect moments. And when I do want to reach for those “big dreams”—well, that deep calm and contentment transfers to my work, making achieving those dreams much more possible, step by tiny step.
Finally, I am a sucker for cute animal stories. Any stories about the furry companions in your life you’d like to share?
I work from home, so I’m often alone (we don’t have kids yet). Our tuxedo cat, Kiki, is my constant companion and stress-reliever. She has more personality than any cat I’ve ever had. When she was younger, she would often wait for us to bend over to tie our shoes—and she would jump on our backs. Trying to piggyback out the door? Who knows.
She’s settled down a bit from her wilder kitten days (like when she used to ride our Christmas tree to the ground), but still entertains us with her many games (like “Monster,” the creature she loves to battle through blankets, and “Big Cat,” when she loves to walk under us as we bear-crawl through the house. Oops, that was probably supposed to be secret. We’re not crazy cat people. Really).
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and vibrant spirit, Amanda. And thanks to the virtual world for making collaborations like this possible. To continue following Amanda’s journey, on her blog and Instagram. Don’t forget to Like Sprout on Facebook!
Do you know a powerful, inspiring woman who has wisdom to share? Email me all about her at amberkellyandersonATgmailDOTcom and maybe she can be part of the Wild Women family.