Nina McConigley was born in Singapore and raised in Wyoming. She earned her MA from the University of Wyoming, and her MFA at the University of Houston. Her short story collection Cowboys and East Indians was the winner of the 2014 PEN Open Book Award and a High Plains Book Award. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Orion, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, and the Asian American Literary Review, among others. She teaches at the University of Wyoming and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson, and in 2019-2020 was the Walter Jackson Bate Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.
I was in the hospital having just given birth to my daughter when I got the call that I received a National Endowment for the Arts grant. It had been a difficult birth, and I was on a lot of medication, so for a moment, I wondered if I was hallucinating. After processing the news, I immediately burst into tears, as my writing and creative life has felt so distant to work and motherhood.
Receiving this award will enable me to finish my novel. It will allow me childcare, which is a stumbling block for so many parents who are artists with day jobs. The grant will facilitate work, travel, and research for a novel that I have lived with for many years and have found myself unable to abandon—and struggled to finish.
To be supported by our government to do creative work means the world to me. The culture of creativity in this country to me is critical for a thriving United States. The NEA’s investment in my work is enormously humbling yet energizing, and for their support of this project, as well as for the judges’ selection of my manuscript, I am grateful beyond measure.