Countdown to Muse 2019: Impossible Writing by Nicole Blades

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 Nicole Blades author of Have You Met Nora?.

Fall 2016, America. To call it a strange time is a wild understatement. The 2016 U.S. presidential election left so many of us reeling, wondering if it was all reality or a fever dream. Beyond the election in November, there was also tumult and trauma seemingly everywhere: Zika outbreaks; Flint, Michigan water crisis; global terror attacks; Pulse Nightclub shooting; and police shootings of Black men caught on video; the death of some of our most brilliant music and cultural heroes (Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali). It was a lot for the mind and spirit to process. But for me, it was also supposed be a joyful time, because my second novel, The Thunder Beneath Us, was published that same fall.


By the time January 2017 showed its face, I was about ready to throw a blanket over my head and tune out everything. Self-preservation maybe? I needed something, a salve to help me dust off and press forward. That firm shoulder-shake came in the form of a Toni Morrison quote: “Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” Of course it was poetic; it’s Toni Morrison! A living example of what words can do. It relit my fire, and I decided—as did countless other like minds—that my stories, my voice, my experience, my art is needed right now, more than ever. I kept writing, kept creating, and finding ways through all of the sometimes head-spinning madness to tell my stories.

You can catch Nicole’s craft discussion, “Reject Rejection: On Fueling Your Work Instead of Your Doubts” on Saturday, April 6th at 4:30pm at the Muse. For all the latest Muse news, follow #Muse19.

Nicole Blades is a novelist, speaker, and journalist who has been putting her stories on paper since the third grade. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, by Caribbean parents, Nicole moved to New York City and launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine. She later co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks, and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health.

Nicole's articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Good Housekeeping,,, SELF, Health, BuzzFeed, and more. Her latest book, Have You Met Nora?, was released November 2017. Her previous novels, The Thunder Beneath Us and Earth's Waters, are available wherever books are sold. Listen to her weekly podcast, Hey, Sis!, about women finding their focus and place in business, art, culture, and life. Nicole has also been a panelist, presenter, and guest speaker at conferences such as Mom 2.0 Summit, The Muse & the Marketplace, BlogHer, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association (CAPA). And she has led workshops at GrubStreet, one of the nation's leading creative writing centers. Nicole lives in Connecticut with her husband and their son. Follower her on social media, and find out more on her website:

About the Author

GrubWrites is a space for the writing and reading community to share ideas and seek advice, a place where writers at the very beginning of their careers publish alongside established authors. Book lovers, we bring you reviews, recommendations, and conversations with exciting new authors to keep you up to speed on all things lit. Writers, this is your one stop shop for expert craft talk, opinions on how we learn and teach writing, and essential advice about the publishing industry.

Plus, we want to hear from you! Our ongoing call for submissions is open to literary community members of all types and persuasions. We want to hear from students, teachers, authors, readers, editors, agents, publicists, and any devotee of the written word. If you have something to say about writing, reading, the publishing industry, or anything related to the literary world, this is the place to voice it. We’re particularly committed to advocating for a diverse range of voices in the literary marketplace and raising the visibility of writers from under-represented communities.

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