At the Slice Literary Conference, September 2018

I was honored to be awarded a scholarship to this year’s Slice. I’ve attended writing conferences before, but this 2-day event was a first for me. As an introvert, I forget how hard they are: the meeting and the small-talk and the attempt to discuss my work in a way that sounds halfway coherent.

I approached a stranger after a panel about writers igniting change – a female Somali-born writer who now lives in Seattle – and failed at an attempt to verbalize my ideas and connect with her. I made me feel discouraged. It made me not want to go back for the second day. But I also didn’t want to quit. I remembered how inspired I felt after Alexander Chee’s and Porochista Khakpour’s joint keynote. Alexander Chee said his novel, Queen of the Night, took 15 years to finish. He said, “I had this habit of erasing my accomplishments”.

I realized sometimes it’s just about changing my mindset and just making it about the journey. I try to keep an updated list of my accomplishments for the days when I feel exhausted; when nothing I do or say (or write) ever seems good enough. It comes in handy.