Ian Belknap is the founder (and Overlord) of WRITE CLUB. He also writes a comedy blog with Samantha Irby, another of our wonderful speakers. Today, Ian shares why Chicago is a city where you can create yourself, and how he’s achieved success in the literary community:
What do you love about Chicago? Why do you love writing here?
In my view, there are several astonishing aspects about making creative work in Chicago:
- It remains a livable city. I moved here from NYC in 1992, and was shocked to find I could get a non-rat trap apartment for a non-robbery rent. This climate of feasibility has led to my then-girlfriend, now-wife and me to make a life here. We have two kids, we own a house, we’re square citizens in way we likely would never have been permitted to become in the economically punishing climate of New York.
- There are eye-poppingly, jaw-droppingly, gob-smackingly talented people plying their trade here. And for a variety of reasons, they mostly remain humble enough to seek joy and fulfillment in the work itself and dodge the worst excesses of ego that can plague the coasts.
- The ethic of DIY runs strong here, so if the opportunity you need does not yet exist, and you’re willing to make with the moxie and elbow grease, you can make your own way with relative ease.
- There is a collegiality and unfailing generosity of artists here – if you’re daunted or intimidated by somebody’s accomplishment or experience level, nine times out of ten they’ll be extremely openhanded with their time and insight. And as often as not, they’ll take an interest in your work – they’ll read your stuff, they’ll see your shows, they’ll give you honest feedback if you want it.