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Photo by author

I’ve blogged before about the cool things going on at Rural America Contemporary Art (RACA), but now the fine folks have launched the first issue of the online magazine.

Why do I think this is great? Being “rural” is important to me. It’s a huge part of my identity. I grew up in a small Minnesota town, and now I live in a small Minnesota town about 25 miles away from my hometown. I’ve been perfectly happy in this setting all these years. My writing would not have been any different had I lived in Minneapolis or Chicago or San Francisco. The city wouldn’t have made me a better writer. In fact, as I was working on my memoir, being so close to the place about which I was writing was immensely helpful.

I believe in the psyche of places, that the spirituality of a place sinks into you and puts down roots. If I were to leave here, I’m certain the sense of uprootedness would spring me loose, make me wobble.

I sometimes dream of living along the shore of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota (who doesn’t? It’s so incredibly beautiful), but I can’t imagine ever leaving this state. We have a good thing going on here. The coasts may ignore us, agents and editors in New York may pass over a “Midwestern” manuscript, but we go about our lives unimpeded.

RACA Online features work by talented artists: John Jodzio, Debra Monroe, Norwood Creech. My friend and beautiful person, Nicole Helget, writes this about living in a rural place. She brings to her writing a sensibility that comes from growing up on a Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, farm. If you haven’t read her memoir The Summer of Ordinary Ways, rush, rush, rush out and get it.