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Special Series

Special Series

Muse and the Marketplace Presenter Spotlight: Isabella Kestermann

GrubStreet's Muse and the Marketplace is in-person May 10th-12th this year. We have an exciting round-up of presenters leading sessions and events like Isabella Kestermann, writer, poet, and fiction editor at khōréō magazine.

We recently caught up with Isabella to ask her about writing in community, the Muse, networking and more.

GrubStreet: What does the phrase "writing in community" mean to you personally and professionally? Could you share a moment from your career where community support at events like the Muse and the Marketplace made a significant difference?

Isabella Kestermann: “Writing in community” is being involved in a conversation. You read, you write, you talk, and grow. I find it very difficult to write alone. I need people—a community to write towards. Editing too, is a conversation. To know how to give feedback and to take it, is to know how to create community. It’s important to treat editing as a collaborative discussion between the writer and the editor, rather than a diagnosis or a grade sheet.

The Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective was one of the first communities that helped me hone my identity as a writer. My first workshop in college was bad, and it made me question my ability to become a writer. I was directed to Jack Grapes, who taught writing classes and by extension the Collective. I have never felt more welcomed and encouraged, and it’s thanks to them that I’m still doing this!

GrubStreet: Networking is a vital part of a writer's journey, but can sometimes feel like a new skill for writers to learn. Based on your experiences, what practical advice can you offer to attendees on making the most of networking opportunities at the Muse and the Marketplace? How have connections you've made at events like the Muse and the Marketplace shaped your writing trajectory creatively or opened new doors for you professionally?

Isabella Kestermann: I’m still pretty new to networking at events like Muse, so I don’t know if I have the best advice but I find a lot of courage in the knowledge that we are here to get to know each other. Which is to say, don’t be afraid to approach people and say hi. Even if they aren’t someone you know or expect to connect with. Everyone is looking to socialize and you never know who you might meet and how they may help you. And if you hit it off with them, always ask for contact info.

As for new opportunities, I was lucky to meet some amazing writers, editors and agents at the Hugo Awards in 2023. It opened my eyes to the global sci-fi community, something I hadn’t consciously thought of. The experience has definitely reshaped some of my goals for this year and I’m excited to see what happens.

Learn more about the Muse and the Marketplace and register here.

Keep reading in this series