Countdown to Muse 2022: Finding Your People by Katie Bannon
The Muse and the Marketplace 2022 is almost here! This year's conference is our first ever hybrid conference, taking place Wednesday, April 27th - Sunday, May 1st, with the Manuscript Mart taking place Wednesday, May 4th - Sunday, May 8th.
This year’s conference theme is “Finding Your People.” As writers, we may draft our work alone, but it takes many people to bring a creative project into the world — from family and friends, to fellow writers, instructors, publishing professionals, literary champions, and ultimately eager readers. Muse 2022 is celebrating all of the connections that enable and enrich our writing and literary lives.
As we count down to the conference, we are asking presenters, agents, and editors to tell us about who has enabled or enriched their own writing or literary life, and how that relationship began. Our next presenter in the series is Katie Bannon, whose personal essays have been featured in NPR, Narratively, Salon, and Cognoscenti, among others.
The first time I workshopped my memoir manuscript, I felt like I’d fallen into a nightmare. I was standing on stage in front of an audience, buck naked. All writing can be exposing, but personal narratives especially so. The story told in that manuscript was one I had sworn never to breathe to another living soul. It was the story of how I spent upwards of five hours a day compulsively pulling out my hair. Now I was spilling that secret to a roomful of strangers in over 200 pages.
What the hell was I doing?
All I knew was that something inside me, a tug at the center of my chest, was urging me forward. I needed to tell this story, no matter how vulnerable it was. I needed to tell this story because of how vulnerable it was. And I had to trust that the other writers in that room would be able to hold it, that I would feel safe in this shared community.
Almost ten years have passed. What began as a workshop in the Memoir Incubator blossomed into a writing group that continues to this day. We call ourselves “The Hive,” which is apt, as these women are the true hive of my writing life. Our monthly gatherings give me the energy and support I need to withstand the grind of producing new work. Most importantly, this group is a source of inspiration. All of us have faced our vulnerabilities and said a resounding “yes” to the difficulties and joys of the writing life. We are in community with each other’s failures and successes, our moments of self-doubt and those of triumph. As exposing as writing is, what a relief to know we’re not alone. That’s something. No – it’s everything.
Katie Bannon is a writer, developmental editor, and educator. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Emerson College and is a graduate of GrubStreet's Memoir Incubator. Her memoir manuscript, which chronicles her experience as a compulsive hair puller, was a finalist for the Permafrost Nonfiction Book Prize. Her personal essays have been featured in NPR, Narratively, Salon, and Cognoscenti, among others. She lives in Central Massachusetts with her husband and two cats. You can follow her on Twitter @katiedbannon or find her at her website www.katiebannon.com.
You can catch Katie's virtual craft discussion, "Writing about Mental Health,” via Hopin at Muse 2022 from 10:00am - 11:15am on April 27th. Don't wait! Register for the Muse and the Marketplace 2022 today.