Reflections on Muse21

When the pandemic hit, I told myself I was going to spend all my extra time on my writing. That didn’t quite happen. Did I accomplish as much as I thought I would without all the fun city things distracting me? No, but I still got a lot done.

I started by signing up for a few online courses through GrubStreet, a Boston non-profit working to help writers be the best they can be. I was hooked; it had been forever since I’d had any formal writing instruction or even really discussed what I was doing in any depth with other writers. Signing up for the virtual version of their annual residency, Muse and the Marketplace, was the obvious next step.

After four days of seminars that got me thinking about my work, I’m feeling energized – like a fighter shadowboxing in his corner before the bell rings. There’s a lot to do, but I can do it, damn it! I think.

The most striking part of it all is that writing and publishing really is its own little world. In session after session, presenters threw out the names of people and events as if we were all supposed to know them. I didn’t. Not one of them. If I hadn’t been explicitly attending a writing conference I might’ve thought they were talking about My Little Pony characters or some obscure 60s rock groups. These people live it – so I need to figure out how to get into that circle. I think it starts with actually talking to people – a novel concept, I know – and making sure I attend classes, readings, and talks, and that I find out where these people are getting their news and pay attention to that too.

I also came out of the conference feeling like I’m in a good spot. A lot of the attendees don’t have any completed work, let alone anything that’s been published. I do, and I’m confident in my ability to make more and get it out there. I just need to get people to look at it.

Which segues into my next big thought: I need to put more time into marketing. No one’s going to do that for me, at least not with the budget I have available. I mean, why do you think I’m writing this particular post? Luckily the blogging and social media presence stuff are both things I know I can pull off if I keep up with it. The offbeat sense of humor that’s so important in my novels is me, which means it should translate well to other media. I’ve seen small successes in that regard before. With a little more discipline, I should be able to build on that.

And above all, I learned that I need to write, write, write, and write some more. Content’s king, baby, even if it isn’t something huge like a novel. The blogging and short stories are a great first step. I’m licking my chops at the news that humorous essays are in vogue right now. Every session I attended gave me an idea for a story of some sort.

So ring the bell, ref. Muse21 has me itching to step into the ring.