Countdown to Muse 2022: Finding Your People by Shalene Gupta

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 Shalene Gupta, co-author of The Power of Trust: How Companies Build It, Lose It, Regain It.



For years, I dreamt of a writing community. I wanted people to commiserate with, people who understood bailing on parties to write and weathering hundreds of rejections because the alternative—giving up—was worse. But how do you find writing friends when the act of writing itself is solitary?

I wandered from Washington D.C. to Kunming, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, New York, and San Francisco. In each city I wrote. In each city I made friends: work friends, yoga friends, teaching friends, grad school friends, online friends, best friends. Still, I did not find a writing community.

In 2015, I moved to Boston. A literary agent I’d had coffee with told me to look up GrubStreet. They have a conference, she said. I think you’d like it.

Accordingly, I applied to volunteer at Muse & the Marketplace. I sent in an application and never heard back.

What kind of conference makes you apply to volunteer? I wondered.

A good one it turns out. I sat down and wrote the world’s most desperate cover letter: listing my credentials, places I’d published, and finally my time in middle school and high school stuffing envelopes at the library.

This time I heard back. I went in to volunteer a week later—shy, still suspicious of this place that made me turn in a cover letter. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll go home, I decided. I could not imagine that I would be back the next year, and the next, that in time I would find teachers, mentors, several writing groups, and friends I write with daily on Zoom. In short, a writing community of the very best kind.


Shalene Gupta has a BA in writing seminars and psychology from Johns Hopkins and an MS from Columbia Journalism School. In the past Shalene was a reporter for Fortune where she wrote about the intersection of diversity and tech in Silicon Valley. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, ESPN, and Kirkus Reviews. Internationally it has appeared in The New Straits Times, The Jakarta Post, and Mint. Before working as a reporter, she taught English in Malaysia on a Fulbright scholarship and wrote a book documenting the history of the Malaysian Fulbright program. She's a graduate of GrubStreet's Novel Incubator program, where she was a Pauline Scheer fellow. She's the co-author of The Power of Trust: How Companies Build It, Lose It, Regain It with Harvard Business School professor Sandra Sucher (Public Affairs, 2021). She's currently working on a YA novel and a nonfiction book on women's health.



You can catch Shalene's virtual craft discussion, "How Interviews Can Fuel Your Book Project,” via Hopin at Muse 2022 from 2:00pm - 3:15pm on May 1st. Don't wait! Register for the Muse and the Marketplace 2022 today.

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