|« A Brand New Op Shop for the Brand New Season||Chicago Improv Festival April 19-25 »|
Literary Tue Mar 30 2010
Jill Pollack is proud to say she hasn't had a boss since 1991. When she turned 40, she left behind the "soul-sucking" Internet consulting business she started and sought out something more meaningful. Having a background in theater and writing, she decided to teach a creative writing class at Columbia College . But when that program was shut down, she used her entrepreneurial spirit to start StoryStudio Chicago, a center for writing and related arts.
Located in Ravenswood off the Irving Park Brown Line stop, is StoryStudio's third home since 2003. They keep moving because they keep growing, an unheard of feat in today's economy. The space is gorgeous and warm with vaulted ceilings, skylights and exposed brick. The first greeting patrons receive is from Zia the dog followed promptly by friendly greetings from the rest of the staff. In my case, it was Pollack, Events Coordinator Lisa Katzenberger, and Assistant Director Molly Backes, who just got her young adult novel published.
Classes are held Monday through Thursdays and class size tops off at 15 students in order to maintain an intimate workshop experience. There are about 650 students involved with StoryStudio right now, ranging from serious published writers to the literary-curious. Although StoryStudio offers a range of practical classes like Business Writing, Freelance Magazine Writing, and Writing the Personal Essay, they also arrange events like Author Talk Panels and Write-A-Thons.
The best part for Pollack and Katzenberger is the community of writers that StoryStudio fosters. Highlighting StoryStudio's reputation as a "landing place," Pollack described one student who returned after completing her MFA. Katzenberger mentioned she is still a student at StoryStudio. Pollack explained that people want to be there; their teachers stick around and the students are dedicated.
Growing at an impressive rate, Pollack says they are "bursting at the seams" and hopes they will be able to add two more classrooms soon as well as online classes for those who are too busy or live too far to make it into the studio. Burdened with a 12.2 percent unemployment rate, many Illinoisans are reassessing their careers as well as what they deem truly important. StoryStudio's growth in this recession proves they are doing something right.