Countdown to Muse 2019: Impossible Writing by Jennifer Baker
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 final presenter in the series is Jennifer Baker, creator and host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast.
In 2015, I applied to 15-18 residencies and was rejected by all of them. I figured I was due for another residency because at this point, my life was in disarray. I was newly separated. Had to move out of one apartment into a noisier and less safe one. I’d been working 7 days a week for 2 years to support myself and my husband—and would do so for 2 more years to eliminate the debt from our divorce.
Once my frustration seeped away, I realized what I had known but not truly grasped: We aren’t always provided with things when we think we need it. I’d have to push myself continually to write, no matter the conditions. Even when I didn't want to. Even when various weights of the world felt immovable. Even when I had ideas that weren’t solidified. I had to push myself to be the writer who was okay with writing something profound one day and abominable the next.
I built a thicker skin not just for rejection, but for being able to utilize this frustration with the world, myself, even others, and channeling it onto the page because I had something to say.
You can catch Jennifer’s craft discussion, “The Revisionist: Using Your Inner Editor as a Writer” on Saturday, April 6th at 10:30am and “Agents & Editors of Color Roundtable” on Saturday, April 6th at 1:00pm at the Muse. For all the latest Muse news, follow #Muse19.
Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and contributing editor to Electric Literature. In 2017, she was awarded a NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship & a Queens Council on the Arts New Work Grant for Nonfiction Literature. Her essay "What We Aren't (or the Ongoing Divide)," published in Kweli Journal, was listed as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2018. Jennifer is editor of the short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life (Atria Books, 2018). And her writing has appeared in Forbes.com, LitHub, Poets & Writers, and Bustle among other print & online publications. Her website is jennifernbaker.com.
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