In today’s post, Oyez Review 41 reader/editor N’Kyenge Ayanna Brown examines the issues and realities of being a minority artist. When submissions for Oyez Review 42 open this August, we want submissions from everyone! We want to see creative writing from female, black, and LGBT artists.
I am a woman! I am a writer! I am a minority! I am a woman minority writer looking for the right audience. As a minority writer, I have found that I am often unable to access the majority. Within academia, this can be extremely challenging, but not impossible.
So what does one do when he/she is “the only” in a workshop course? What if you have to submit a story to ten or more individuals who may not have any understanding of your background or story concepts?
My advice is to first stay true to yourself as a writer because your creativity is stimulated from within. Also, when working on a given piece, consider the workshop as a source of feedback to assist in the final editing stages. I have been in the position of “the other” the majority of the time as an MFA candidate, and this is what I’ve learned.
Your Audience is Out There: Command Their Attention!
While differences in age, gender, and ethnicity may be present, the focal point must always be on the intended audience, not necessarily the immediate audience. Study your genre, familiarize yourself with the best writers who work within the same mentalities. You should reach out to professors and ask them to share their vast knowledge of authors, but if this isn’t an option or their information is limited, you can always use a variety of resources: libraries, bookstores, mentors, the internet. The list goes on.
This is How I Found My Audience
I made a list. Lists work well for me. I listed the genres I focus on: poetry, short stories, and novels. Then, I created a file and notebook for each to keep track of authors I was already familiar with, as well as potential authors suggested to me by friends, classmates, and professors. Once I had this list, I was able to move forward. I also considered the subjects, language, and characters of the works I created to help me categorize each piece into sub categories. I was able to decipher which work fit specific audiences. While much of my research stemmed from outside sources, I still find assurance in knowing that I first used my immediate resources in the MFA program, information I was able to gain via networking, research, attending creative events, and talking with friends and family.
Finally, the easiest way to find an audience is to identify who you are as a writer and look for others who share your outlook and values. Get out there, attend readings, participate, share your work. The literary circles have so much to offer. This is a sure way to get closer to an established audience.
I am an Afro-Caribbean female writer. I have found my audience, but I’m always looking for new outlets.
N’Kyenge Ayanna served as a reader and editor for Oyez Review 41. She lives in Chicago, blogs, and is a culinary rock star.