What is it that I’m doing if I’m not doing what I want to be doing?

If this is what a quarter-life crisis is, help me now.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT SOMETHING

One thought meanders in and out of my head about once a month: Should I go back to school to get my master’s degree in creative writing?

Plus side: School loans will be put on hold.
Down side: I’ll accrue even more money to pay back when I finish said schooling.

When I was a child, why did I ever imagine life as an adult would be easier?

Another plus side: I’ll be focused on writing (more than ever before), and I’ll have a network of other writers by my side.
Oh look, another respective down side – that tricky bastard: How will I fit it into my schedule? Will I be good enough? What benefit will it provide me to hold an even higher degree in a field where it’s next to impossible to get an actual writing job, especially in this area?

Maybe it’s just me, but the recent national articles written about Eau Claire are kind of missing the mark. I love Eau Claire, I really do. But the opportunities are not flowing out of every river, creek, and stream. In my opinion, if you don’t know the three people who run this city, then you’re shit out of luck. I know Eau Claire is home to an abundance of creative people trying to break into the game, but guess what I see. I see the same photographers, same writers, same artists sprinkled across the backdrop. You can’t tell me it’s because the unknown artists aren’t giving it their all. I’ve witnessed a great artist pour everything she’s got into a job application and not even get the courtesy of an explanation for why she wasn’t considered for the job – just a “Sorry, we found someone else that fits our specific needs at this time” mumbo jumbo, canned statement that gets sent out in droves. Believe me, I would hire her in a heartbeat if I had an actual business that could hire someone of that caliber, because what she is creating is cerebral and relevant and pushing the line of perception vs. reality.

“All you have to do is get your foot in the door and network.” – this overused statement really chaps my ass. If you’re anything like me, socializing with strangers by yukking it up and handing out business cards feels like the most terrifying thing I could ever force myself to do. It’s not natural for a writer like me. If I have to shake hands with someone I just met, only to shove my talents down their throat, just to break into the “circle” of Eau Claire’s creative-minded people, then I don’t want to be a part of that club. Has anyone thought about the artists who are too afraid to introduce themselves at a Young Professionals Meet-Up – can there be a place for them to congregate and work on their art in a more fluid setting? A place that prides itself on the feedback and collaboration from other individuals trying to make a name for themselves. A place that partners with other businesses that could offer artists a chance to submit their writing, art, design, photography, etc., once every few months to a publication or gallery? Because I find it helpful to set a goal among witnesses who can hold me accountable, push my creativity, and support me when I’m feeling lost.

Why do we not have a place like this in Eau Claire – an actual physical location, specifically for artists, with an affordable monthly fee to be a part of something bigger than our singular mind? Not just a “work space,” but a place to come together and collaborate. If we’re supposed to be the next Artist’s Wet Dream of a city, then let’s provide support and opportunities for the artists who have a hard time getting out of bed or who would rather stay in on a Thursday night, the artists who don’t feel comfortable sharing their work because they’re scared of the unknown or don’t have the contacts to provide feedback, and the artists who have applied for jobs multiple times and have been turned down at every corner without any advice for improvement. If there was a place for me to go after my 9-5 job to write, to bounce ideas off others, to help another writer with wording or structure, and to just look around and see artists like me supporting each other, then I would go every single day after work.

That’s the direction I want Eau Claire to be headed. I’ve lived in the Chippewa Valley my entire life (besides the four years I went to college at Winona State), and this place is nothing but welcoming. The residents have big hearts. No one wants you to sink or be forgotten, which is why I hope there is a chance for everyone with a dream to obtain the tools to fulfill them.

I’ve dabbled in poetry, nonfiction, and short stories. For me, those mediums are fun as a hobby – I actually received a degree in writing…I understand the elements of structure and literary theory, but screenwriting is my focus. No one hires screenwriters for screenwriting, not in this town at least. So here I am, trying to not get myself down about the fact that my scripts will never see the light of day because the script has to be some kind of wonderful at just the right time, which is achievable but excruciatingly difficult. But even then, what are the chances of a Wisconsinite making it big (I’d even take making it small) in Hollywood? Answer: Slim.

But I’ll keep writing. I will never stop, because the movies I want to watch are not being made – and if they are being made, they aren’t being made well. If there is one thing I know in and out, it’s movies. And I’ve tasked myself with the responsibility of making movies where one of the two main characters in the love story doesn’t DIE. Seriously, stop killing the lesbians. It’s getting annoying. Representation matters, and if you keep killing the lesbian love interest, what are you telling us? Just die already? Come on.

I’m trying not to give Eau Claire too much shit for not being made for me or my dreams. The truth is that EC has opportunities for writers: Chippewa Valley Writer’s Guild, Barstow and Grand, Twig, and Volume One. If I were into poetry or prose or gained enjoyment from writing news articles, then you bet your ass I would be submitting my work all across town for the exposure and publication and sense of accomplishment…sense of my work being read by someone who might be able to connect with it, but I’m not writing in those styles – it’s not for me. Maybe I’m supposed to be stuck in my house, typing frantically on my laptop, struggling to find the perfect way to complete the second act.

Or maybe I’m supposed to stop making excuses and just do what I know how to do. When I finish this screenplay, then what? Revise, revise, revise of course. And after that? Submit it to the unknown forces of the powerful, movie industry giants. For all I know, it’s the same wherever you go – you have to know someone or know of someone who knows someone and then rely on them to pull imaginary strings to get you to that next step. And if that’s the case, then it sure would be comforting to have a network of peers to encourage you to keep at it, no matter the outcome. And I think Eau Claire could be just the place.

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