Countdown to Muse 2021: Small Victories by Mary C. Curtis

Writing is a solitary pursuit. And writers I know aren’t exactly unhappy about that. Though my work on the intersection of politics, culture, and race attracts hearty public reactions from readers and responses from me, like many of my colleagues I’m an extrovert at work and introvert at heart.

Still, the shrunken world of Covid and Zoom is hardly a dream come true.

It’s been a challenge for a writer that gleans story ideas from snatches of conversation at the market or gym or church. My specialty is reading between the lines of the news, to explore individual experiences, my own and others, in a way that might resonate. I learn from feedback, not only in the form of email or supportive or rude messages left on Google voice but in those chance encounters.

Now, slowly, I poke my head out, to take calculated risks a year though it seems like 10 after my last out-of-town speech, the last political rally. Mask on, 6 a.m., a Sunday morning market sprint.

My unexpected company, a man with kind eyes, slicing the pastrami. Surprisingly, he recognized me, and I could swear he was smiling when he told me how much he enjoyed my report on a broadcasting pioneer, a Black History Month special, a light feature compared to most of my work.

He told me he loved the reminder of someone he had listened to long ago.

Human contact – and appreciation.

Turns out the writer’s life is not so solitary, after all.

Countdown to Muse 2019: Impossible Writing by Mary C. Curtis

The Muse and the Marketplace 2019 kicks off on April 5th at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. This year’s theme is writing in a time of upheaval — whether such upheaval is personal, political, artistic, or all of the above. In anticipation of the conference, we’ve asked Muse 2019 presenting authors to describe a time when it was impossible for them to write, but they wrote anyway. How did they do it? What did they write? Our next presenter in the series is Mary C. Curtis, columnist at Roll Call.

Breaking the 1,000-Word Barrier & Finding Support for the Journey at #Muse17

I managed to make The Muse and the Marketplace conference book fair by the skin of my teeth—or, rather, by an essay. While other conference presenters, novelists and non-fiction writers alike, celebrated one, two, three and more books, my chapter in Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox got me a corner of the table. But that’s OK, or so I learned at this year’s writing conference. Letting that lesson sink in was one reason I traveled to Boston for an enlightening and, as it turned out, soul-searching weekend.

Vol. 1: Mary C. Curtis Writes Because the Problem is Not “Fake News”

Writing, today, seems different, especially when you write and report on issues of politics, culture, and race, as I do. Growing up, journalism as a profession had always felt a little sketchy to me—and not just because my mother thought doctor or lawyer seemed a lot surer a bet for an African-American girl raised in West Baltimore, trying to make something of herself. It was also because the job of observing the world to make sense of it seemed not to fit the description of “job” I grew up on.