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.