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

The Muse and the Marketplace 2021 is almost here! This year's conference is taking the form of a virtual enhanced writing residency (taking place Wednesday, April 21st - Sunday, April 25th) with new Premium Workshops and the Manuscript Mart (taking place Wednesday, April 28th - Sunday, May 2nd).


This year's conference theme is "Small Victories." We all know what the "big" victories are (landing an agent, snagging a book deal, or getting a flashy award), but this year we aim to celebrate the equally important, tiny, and often unseen victories of our writing lives. In anticipation of the conference, we've asked Muse 2021 presenting authors to describe one small victory they've had as a writer that nobody knows about. Our next presenter in the series is Mary C. Curtis, featured in Covering Politics in the Age of Trump.



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.



Mary C. Curtis, a columnist at Roll Call, is an award-winning journalist and educator based in Charlotte, N.C., and Washington, D.C. She is the host of the CQ Roll Call podcast “Equal Time, with Mary C. Curtis.” She has contributed to NBC News, NPR, The Washington Post, and talks politics on WCCB-TV and NPR-affiliate WFAE in Charlotte. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, the Charlotte Observer, the Baltimore Sun, and was a national correspondent for AOL's Politics Daily. Her coverage specialty is the intersection of politics, culture, and race; she has covered the 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020 presidential campaigns. You can find her work at



You can catch Mary's virtual craft discussion, "Writing an Op-ed, or How to Change Minds in 1,000 Words or Less," via Attendify at the Muse 2021 from 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm (EDT) on April 23rd, 2021. Don't wait! Register for the Muse and the Marketplace 2021 today.

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