Amanda Oliver

Writer. Editor.

Bits & Pieces (Early September edition)


  • "Well, I think the Internet in general allows people to only see what they already agree with. It’s funny, it’s ironic really, because we thought that with the Internet we were going to be expanding our minds and in some ways of course we have, but in a lot of ways I think it’s worked in the opposite direction."
    Bill Maher: I won’t watch John Oliver Joel Keller

  • "My father is a great man, and a self-made one. Everything he is now, he chose to be— Picking and choosing from observations and conversations. His longest running teachings are as follows: King makers are more important than kings. Sometimes you have to push, sometimes you have to pull. Carry people with you. Sip your scotch. Respect is earned the longer you make a bottle last."
    On the need for good scotch Priyanka Joseph

  • “‘I was watching his face, but his face didn’t move at all. His breathing was normal, but his hands…’ She pauses, and the word hangs thickly in the air. ‘His hands felt like he was awake.’”
    Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness Sara Bernard

  • "In June, I found a way to get paid for my body—I worked as a model for a men’s clothing ad. I was not the focus of the photo, but I sat on a lawn chair in the background reading a paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye. That morning, a large man had teased my hair into a lion’s mane, smoothed it into a housewife bouffant, then curled the ends. As he slipped each curl out of the iron’s round barrel, he held it in his hand like a baby bird, blowing on the hair until it cooled. Doesn’t that hurt your hand? I asked. He looked at me in the mirror and said, No, baby, I’m a man.”
    Pity the Animal Chelsea Hodson

  • “‘They are just things,’ my parents taught me, when we moved from place to place and left more and more in our wake. But I have begun to find it difficult to escape from this mindset even in relation to people and experiences. I do not know if this is the epitome of unwellness or if it is mature; I remember crying for a pretty calico cat that my father took back to the pound because she could not accompany us on our move, but the years that separate me from that child also spunkily create distance between me and loved ones in airports as if there were not thread of feeling between us.”
    Different Corners Kara Vanderbijl

  • "It’s funny how you find ideas that fit your way of life. For a long time I agreed with Didion when she said she didn’t respect people who never left home. Now I’m not so sure that’s a virtue. The people who stay in their hometowns, who face their pasts, who live among family, those people are the tough ones. They’re the ones who are willing to live for something that goes beyond that selfish idea of ‘getting what you want.’ Who ever said we were owed that? Who promised that to us? In our time, everyone knows there is a whole world out there and that all you need to see it is enough money to get on a plane. You don’t have to be brave to leave. You have to be brave to stay.”
  • July 23, 2014 Bart Schaneman

Every Morning by Amanda Oliver

Human Parts has been very kind to me this morning.

When I originally wrote this piece, it was incredibly hard for me to do. When I went back to edit and rewrite it I was reminded of how important it is to share.

The Fifth Stage of Grief by Amanda Oliver

There were so many moments I expected to see you. A bar we used to go to. Leaving the restaurant where we worked together. Walking with her.

And then eventually the places I knew you would not be.

Bus stops. I spent a lot of time looking for you at bus stops. As if one day the bus I was on would pull up to a stop and you would be there, sitting on a bench, waiting for the bus behind mine. I would spot you through my window. No point in waving, maybe you would be on your phone or looking another way, but it would brighten my day just to briefly see you.

Of course the bus stops never had you. Neither did the bars or any of the Jeeps I’ve seen since that October.

Pleased to have another one of my personal essays featured on Medium’s Human Parts. 

13 Essential Essays for Writers



Earlier this week we posted a list of our favourite essays for writers. Today the consistently excellent Amanda Oliver got in touch to tell us about her three favourites:

Everything you Need to Know About Writing Successfully - in Ten Minutes by Stephen King - Short, sharp advice on everything from talent and self-criticism to having fun and entertaining your audience

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? by Neil Gaiman - A meditation on inspriation

Those Words That Echo…Echo…Echo Through Life by Jamaica Kincaid - Another great essay from the the New York Times Writers on Writing series

And in case you missed it, here is the original list:

On Keeping a Notebook by Joan Didion - A great essay about making notes that gets to the very core of the writing process

Write Like a Motherfucker by Cheryl Strayed - Raw, emotional advice on the role of humility and surrender in the often tortured world of the writer

Thoughts on Writing by Elizabeth Gilbert  - On disicpline, hard work, rejection and why it’s never too late to start

Write Till You Drop by Annie Dillard - “Do you think I could be a writer?” “I don’t know… . Do you like sentences?”

Why I Write by George Orwell - On egoism, a love of beauty, the quest for truth and the desire to change the world — Orwell’s ‘four great motive for writing’.

Despite Tough Guys, Life Is Not the Only School for Real Novelists by Kurt Vonnegut - A beautifully argued defence of the role of teaching in developing writers.

That Crafty Feeling by Zadie Smith - A lecture by a great essayist and novelist on the craft of writing.

A Place You All Know Well by Michael Chabon - On the central role of exporation in writing.

The Nature of Fun by David Foster Wallace (excerpt) - DFW on what drives writers to write

Uncanny the Singing That Comes from Certain Husks by Joy Williams - “Who cares if the writer is not whole? Of course the writer is not whole, or even particularly well…”

If anyone else out there has any suggestions, get in touch!

10 Quotes for Writers by Writers: Real Talk II

"My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying."
Anton Chekhov

"Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them."
Isaac Asimov

“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”
— Erin Bow

Read More

All Adventurous Women Do

An old piece for a new place. Excited to be sharing on Medium’s Human Parts collection.


If you think this is Brooklyn, think again. 
A tale of two Brooklyns: there’s more to Brooklyn than hipsters, coffee and Girls 

Brooklyn is the only reason I was able to live in New York and leave saying I loved it. Excited to head back for a week at the end of September!


If you think this is Brooklyn, think again. 

A tale of two Brooklyns: there’s more to Brooklyn than hipsters, coffee and Girls 

Brooklyn is the only reason I was able to live in New York and leave saying I loved it. Excited to head back for a week at the end of September!


Caught Catalog: Gavin McInnes & Freedom of Speech | by Amanda Oliver

Thought Catalog is founded on the belief that “every thought is relevant” and that “anyone can use Thought Catalog to articulate their ideas and stories to the world,” with “no one excluded from the conversation.” Which is not entirely true — Thought Catalog has a submission process and it’s not a free platform. Thought Catalog does not have to publish anything they do not want to. They do have a selection process and it is not a free-for-all, though it has certainly read like one in the last few years. Nowadays, Thought Catalog seems to mirror much of our society: whoever shouts the loudest, or has the most controversial thing to say, or tends to be the most strident about expressing their views… well, guess who’s there, waiting in the digital wings to publish them and reap the traffic rewards? Thought Catalog chose to publish McInnes and McInnes used them to get very loud with his views.

So, are Gavin McInnes’ First Amendment rights being violated?

Absolutely not.

Is anyone ever happy with their headshot? Forever feeling weird about them.

Sharing about business and pleasure in the best of British Columbia over on Sharp Heels.

Sharing about business and pleasure in the best of British Columbia over on Sharp Heels.