When asked by an audience member why she lives in Rome, Taiye Selasi's first response was, "Have you ever been to Rome?" After the laughs settled down, she explained:
I signed this book deal and then I got totally stuck and blocked, because I was so afraid that every sentence was not worthy of this USD. And then I thought, I should leave New York, because sometimes being in the city-- it's so inspiring, but I can feel the ambition in the air. Either I'm inside and I want to go outside because I know there's so much to do [...] or I'm crying inside because everyone outside has already published a book.
I think I speak for all New York writers when I say: been there. She went on:
Living in New York, I was full of confidence but not courage. And living in Rome, wandering around like a baby, trying to learn a language, just imitating people... it makes you so vulnerable. It makes you observe everything, it makes you listen to the music of the language, it makes you remember how to communicate with other things besides your intelligence. So living in Rome, I would say, reawakened my courage. It's a beautiful city, a city that has devoted itself to beauty. And when I'm stuck, I just walk around. And I think to myself, what beautiful things the human mind can conceive, and then create. With an unlimited supply of Roman slaves.