Halima Hagi-Mohamed is a Somali-American writer. She was born in Nairobi, Kenya and raised in Fresno, California. Her writing deals with themes of family, mental health, identity, and religion. In 2017 she published her first book of short stories titled Amilah. Check out Halima’s contribution to the Gu’ 2018 issue, “Warda Means Rose.”
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Ooo that’s a tough one. I think it would have to be feeling loved not only by those you care about but also by yourself. It’s important that you appreciate who you are and all the things that make you uniquely you.
I say the English word “yeah” a lot. Funnily enough when speaking Somali “haa” or yes is something I use most often. I’m really casual in my speech. Maybe it’s because I was raised in California.
All my favorite childhood memories involve being with family. Whether that be playing in the neighborhood, Eid celebrations, get togethers, etc. I’m really grateful for the childhood that I had. It’s something I recently explored through some non-fiction writing. There were a lot of things I experienced in childhood that shaped my thinking. I deeply appreciate the environment I grew up in.
At what point in your life (as a child, teenager, adult, etc.) did you find yourself exploring your talent?
I like to say I started writing around 12, although I’m pretty sure I was dabbling it in it earlier than that. I enjoyed making up songs as a kid, [as well as] poetry and other artistic media. Twelve and up is when I was consistently writing, whether stories, poems, blogs and more.
In what mood do you usually create your work?
I tend to write in the mornings. A certain idea or character will jump at me and I go from there. My mood is usually pretty neutral I suppose. Unless I wake up feeling cranky, haha. In that case I would probably stay away from writing. Additionally I write when I’m feeling kind of low. If something is upsetting me I turn to writing and explore my feelings through it.
What or who inspires you as an artist/author?
I find a lot of writers of color inspire me. Authors like Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Agozi Adeche, and Maya Angelou. I appreciate all they’ve done for the literary world. It’s not always easy being a writer of color. I find comfort in reading their books and feeling like I, too, have a place in the writing world.
Does your work usually carry a message?
Yes, I find that it usually does. There’s always something I’m trying to convey through a poem or story. At times it’s spelled out and plainly obvious. Other times I leave it up to the reader to discover what I’m trying to say.
What is your spirit animal? Why?
Definitely a bird. I always say I wish I was a bird. I think I may have stolen that from a movie. Soaring in the sky away from everything and everyone on ground would be nice sometimes.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear has always been failure. Whether that be in achieving my short or long term goals. It’s always a fear that has haunted me. Success is something I’ve always chased after. I think I’m also very hard on myself. I notice I don’t celebrate my victories as often as I should. So it can get a little messy.
What’s the best piece of advice someone has given you?
Live in the moment. It’s so easy to get caught up regretting your past and stressing over the future. I was reminded to take life easier and focus on the here and now. It’s something I constantly try doing.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Growing up I wished I was musically gifted. I remember being really fascinated by the piano.
What does home mean to you?
As cliche as it sounds, ‘home is where the heart is.’ It’s where you feel most loved and cared for. A home is anywhere you feel at peace with your being. You can’t call home somewhere that you can’t be your complete self.
Which living person do you admire?
My mother. She is the bravest person I know. Her strength and resilience inspire me every day.
What is your proudest achievement?