Amanda A. Gibson is a lawyer who has worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland agricultural land preservation program. Raised in Connecticut, she lives with her husband and two children in southern Maryland.
Amanda's piece, "Cookie Cutter Love," appears in issue 20 of Under the Gum Tree, published July 2016. It is her first non-legal publication.
Q. When did you start writing and why? What inspires your writing now?
A. I wanted to be a writer when I was younger but for various reasons pursued law instead. I began writing creatively again about five years ago when a friend invited me to join a writing group. I knew if I didn’t accept the invitation I’d never write the stories that had been nudging my consciousness.
Moments that touch my soul and heart inspire my writing.
Q. How were you finally able to reconcile the emotions you had been harboring toward your mother, and did writing this piece help you in the process?
A. Writing this piece helped me to understand the love my mother had for me, however flawed, and helped me embrace the love I can share with my children despite my painful childhood.
Q. Why did you choose to focus on the cookie-making tradition? Why was this tradition so meaningful for you?
A. This story came to me the moment I realized the cookie cutters were lost. That’s when I understood that the cookie cutters recalled for me one of my few positive childhood memories.
Q. Why did you decide to close the piece with the image of a beautiful cookie decorated by your mother? What does that cookie symbolize to you?
A. For me the tree represents my mother’s love. As flawed as she was, as burdened as she was by her demons, she was still capable of making beautiful things—like her family tree—her children and her grandchildren.
Q. What events do you think warrant a story or should be written about?
A. There are no limitations on what should be written. Anything that inspires a person to write warrants being told.
Q. What allowed you to let go of the lost cookie cutters?
A. Writing this piece helped me to say goodbye to the cookie cutters. Also, after I shared the story with my writing group, a writing friend gave me several cookie cutters handed down from her mother. Tied together with a yellow grosgrain ribbon, nicked and darkened with age, they bore the signs of their shared past. My friend’s thoughtful gesture was the perfect antidote for my loss.