Art is not produced in a vacuum. First drafts, sketches, or melodies might be created in isolation, but at some point artists need external participation whether that means a piece of art hangs from a gallery wall, is heard at a concert, or is read on the page. I am working toward finding new external outlets for my writing every day and despite any setbacks am forging ahead.
While it's best to function on self-belief and internal motivation, a little external pressure never hurts. That's why it was so humbling to be mentioned in Laurie Hertzel's review of the Star Tribune's Artist of the Year, Lesley Nneka Arimah. I saw her read at her book launch for "When a Man Falls from the Sky" and was moved by both her words and her presence. The Strib's overview of her work and her place in both Minnesotan and American society was spot-on. And being mentioned alongside Arimah is truly a personal call-to-action for me and my goals for 2018.
Minnesota, a state that once was best known for white male writers such as Robert Bly, Sinclair Lewis and F. Scott Fitzgerald, was developing a strong community of female writers as well as writers of color. Some — Arimah, Marlon James, Danez Smith, Sun Yung Shin and Bao Phi, for instance — were getting national and international attention, and others — Su Hwang, Donte Collins, Anika Fajardo — were well on their way.