We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Drayer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
As a writer my biggest risk taking is emotional. What if I never evolve to become “good enough?” What if I’m as honest as I can be, and that’s still not good story telling – what if I put it all on the line and it falls flat? What if I fail others, or worst of all, myself? Taking risks, personally and professionally, is vital to thriving in this human experiment, Obviously they should be rational and researched, and obviously the scope will be different for everyone depending on resources and the safety net you have available, But in almost any circumstance some risk, some choice to do something new and innovative that day will be present in some capacity. The very act of taking that step off the cliff, large or small, builds your sense of adventure – and when you fail, your resilience. Do something everyday that scares you, right? That’s taking a risk and there’s nothing more important. Readers know if you’re playing it safe. There’s a couple easy ways to ensure your art doesn’t hit, and one of them is hiding from truth or trying to shelter yourself in any way from what you’re creating. So in writing, in art, there’s professional risk taking – calling yourself a writer and refusing to give in to imposter syndrome – and personal risk taking. Creating, risk-taking, should take an emotional toll. If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right. So you need a network – partner, friends, colleagues, to celebrate and commiserate. For me the personal and professional network is fundamentally what allows me to continue to take critical risks.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve written my entire professional life, but decided to take the leap to fiction about five years ago. It was just like falling in love and for two or three years I couldn’t get enough of the characters, the stories, the process. I was obsessed and it was magnificent. But like any love affair, there came a point where the lust subsided and it was time to decide if this was real, something I could build a life around. Though nothing I’d ever done in my life had been harder, nothing was more rewarding than writing, creating, reading, learning, connecting to the craft and to the community – so I dove in and committed to the long-term, the real work. I’ve come to learn that’s what separates a lot of folks who don’t make the long-haul; once the it gets down to work, they bail. One of the things that keeps me motivated is that I’m driven to represent what I don’t see in the world, and that’s everyday stories of confident women and lesbians. So much cultural representation about the LGBTQ community is about coming out, about trauma, violence – there are so few people writing those intimate stories of the everyday that are at the same time mundane and ecstatic, the stuff of real life. There is so little genre work that doesn’t become about the protagonist as a gay, rather than as a protagonist. I’m interested in normalizing our stories, writing us so blithely into the fabric of culture that we become seamlessly integrated into the world, rather than stuffed onto a special interest group shelf of the bookstore.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Maybe I’m the only person in Denver who doesn’t start with “Red Rocks,” or “hiking?” We’re the Napa Valley of beer and that’s where my love lies. This is probably still a pretty popular answer – I take folks to the breweries and distilleries. I love, love, love to learn about process and I think the Coors tour is awesome. My wife and I took a tour of the Leopold Brothers distillery and it’s one of the best things we’ve done anywhere in the world. A lot of places have tours now and look – if you don’t know how your brew gets to your glass by now and a porter from a pilsner, that’s on you and you’re worse for it. Denver has some great indoor adventure. If I’ve got an afternoon I’ll drop in to the OneUp nearby and rock Joust and pinball while sipping a booze slushy. There are two fantastic go-kart tracks in town, K1 and Unser. We’re also lucky to have one of the largest combined performing arts complexes in the nation – the DCPA is gorgeous and books great shows; the Colorado Symphony Orchestra is phenomenal and I’ve enjoyed almost every play I’ve seen at the Stage Theater.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?