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Home Towns, Real Jobs, & Helping Artists

So, I get excited when I come across internet articles talking about how St Louis is one of the top places in the world for writers to live. It happened again this morning when I was reading my Literary Hub e-newsletter... Hannibal is only about an hour and a half north, you know!

However, there is an entire paradigm shift to be had in an easy afternoon trip.

I like going down to St Louis about once a month. I'm usually going to one of the wonderful St Louis Writers Guild workshops! Whenever I miss a meeting, it bums me out (like this month and last). There is power in being around other writers. There is serious encouragement in being in a town which actively values the arts - and not just as a cutesy tourist trap sort of thing. There are active writer and artist communities there which dominate the local scene - and that's awesome!

I don't know about you, but I can tell when a town has a legitimate art scene or not. Where I live doesn't. There are odd artists poking around obscure corners, to be sure... but it's all quilts and junk. It's not active. It's not current. It's not cool. And if this sounds judgey - well, it is. But it's also true.

People like to think that just because Hannibal = Mark Twain, you'd think that means active writers.

Well... um... no. Not really, no. The towns here are river towns, mainly focused on small town sports, manufacturing, farming, domestic beer, and complaining about super random things on Facebook.

I rant because I'm frustrated about it. I crave active writer communities - and not just invisible ones online (as helpful as they are).

So, about a year ago I started up the Hannibal Writers Guild. There's two big reasons behind this:

1, I KNOW there are other talented writer people here! I know it! And over the past year we've seen them peep their little noses out from time to time at our monthly meetings.

2, There is a paradigm shift that needs happening here. Right now, the people where I live don't really value the Arts. And what I mean by that it that it's not taken seriously. Sure you might splash some paint on a canvas for a fundraiser every now and again - but no one is trying to become an Artist and make a living off it. Name me three living people (besides me) who are known authors living in Hannibal or Quincy. I dare you. And that's sad, because, like I said, there ARE talented people here - but more often than not, since the unspoken consensus is that art is just hobby stuff, you need to go get a "real job" at Walmart or Titan Wheel and you need to be content with that.

It's heartbreaking.