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View Full Version : Best small or mid-sized city for writers?



ScottyB
08-08-2008, 06:06 AM
I am looking for a place to move in the next couple years that is writer-friendly. I was in DC this week checking out an MFA program there, but passed due to personal reasons I won't get into. Now I am probably going to do a Creative Writing graduate program at a local university this fall.

After I graduate (or possible before if things don't go smoothly), I want to move to a city where I can find work that has some creative function. It really doesn't matter what, as long as I can use my writing background (which includes some undergrad work in television and film along with traditional creative writing).

Some areas I will not consider: the South, the Southwest, the Midwest, and the Mid-Atlantic.

So that pretty much leaves the Northeast, the Great Lakes region, the Upper Northwest, California (though the cost there makes me think maybe not), and the Mountain region.

I am leaning toward the Northwest because of the fairly stable weather patterns and the "outdoorsy" feeling.

I would like to live in a city that has a metro area greater than 100k but less than 1 million.

Siddow
08-08-2008, 06:25 AM
Wow, you don't ask for much, do ya? :)

I don't have any rec's for ya, but you might think about looking at www.city-data.com. You can choose your states and narrow it down to the population, and then look at the demographics for each area...you'll want areas that have a lot of arts stuff like libraries, museums galleries.

The most creative jobs are in NYC and LA. You might think about freelancing from a place not too far from NYC so you can still get downtown to meet with editors. I used to live up around Putnam and Duchess counties in NY state...nice place, but still pricey.

Can't believe you won't consider the south. Whassamatter, can't take the heat?

ScottyB
08-08-2008, 06:28 AM
Wow, you don't ask for much, do ya? :)

I don't have any rec's for ya, but you might think about looking at www.city-data.com (http://www.city-data.com). You can choose your states and narrow it down to the population, and then look at the demographics for each area...you'll want areas that have a lot of arts stuff like libraries, museums galleries.

The most creative jobs are in NYC and LA. You might think about freelancing from a place not too far from NYC so you can still get downtown to meet with editors. I used to live up around Putnam and Duchess counties in NY state...nice place, but still pricey.

Can't believe you won't consider the south. Whassamatter, can't take the heat?


Not the heat, the racism, or the southern twang. My mother's family is from the South, and I have heard enough of "I ain't votin' for no [black man]" to fill a lifetime.

Siddow
08-08-2008, 06:35 AM
Not the heat, the racism, or the southern twang. My mother's family is from the South, and I have heard enough of "I ain't votin' for no [black man]" to fill a lifetime.

Well.

I live in Georgia and I take offense at the stereotyping right there.

Good luck to ya.

KTC
08-08-2008, 06:42 AM
That's extremely offensive, Scotty. Not funny. The smiley face does not help your cause.

Siddow
08-08-2008, 06:43 AM
Sorry, I am sure there are many areas around Atlanta that don't have all three at the same time. :tongue

NOT FUNNY.

Are you trying to be offensive?

ScottyB
08-08-2008, 07:02 AM
NOT FUNNY.

Are you trying to be offensive?


Nope, sorry. Just trying to make light of the situation. Sorry if my sardonic sense of humor didn't come through. I really just hate the heat. Which should be evident from the locations I don't want to live.

rugcat
08-08-2008, 07:02 AM
Sorry, I am sure there are many areas around Atlanta that don't have all three at the same time. Since you're new to this board, you might want to tread a bit more lightly. It's like someone new coming into a bar where there are a bunch of regulars and making fun of them in a loud voice, with no idea of who they are or what they're like -- not much appreciated.

An actual apology would go a long way toward showing you understand what I'm talking about.

Just some friendly advice.

blacbird
08-08-2008, 08:40 AM
Iowa City, Iowa.

You'll be hard-pressed to find another small-sized place so deeply into arts in general, but especially writing. Home of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, alumni of which include Flannery O'Connor, John Irving, Joe Haldeman, Tracy Kidder. Instructors over the years have included Kurt Vonnegut, John Cheever, Anthony Burgess, Raymond Carver, and also John Irving.

Plus it's a wholly pleasant Grant Wood kinda midwestern town, except when getting flooded or hit by tornadoes.

caw

Bayou Bill
08-08-2008, 02:01 PM
Austin, Texas

Population around 500,000. Several colleges with the Un. of Texas being the largest. The area's chief claim to fame is music (there's a life-sized statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn) but there are a lot of film and writing activities. The place is almost self-consciously progressive as typified by the unofficial slogan, "Keep Austin Weird."

Bayou bill :cool:

Bartholomew
08-08-2008, 02:52 PM
I know you said you don't want to move to the midwest, but let me emphasize this:

STAY THE HELL OUT OF KANSAS!

Seriously, don't even drive through. The streets roll up at 5:30 sharp, and if you're out after sundown, by gum, you must be one of them thar devil worshipers.

I can mock Kansas all I damn well want, thank you. Seriously. Overland Park has exactly two independent book stores: one is a Christian bookstore, in which I am physically unwelcome, and the other is Rainy Day Books, which does its very best to carry the exact same titles as Borders. I seriously hate where I live. /derail.

EriRae
08-08-2008, 02:57 PM
Iowa City, Iowa.

You'll be hard-pressed to find another small-sized place so deeply into arts in general, but especially writing. Home of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, alumni of which include Flannery O'Connor, John Irving, Joe Haldeman, Tracy Kidder. Instructors over the years have included Kurt Vonnegut, John Cheever, Anthony Burgess, Raymond Carver, and also John Irving.

Plus it's a wholly pleasant Grant Wood kinda midwestern town, except when getting flooded or hit by tornadoes.

caw

I totally second this.

I got to meet Kurt Vonnegut, when I was in 3rd grade and had no farging clue who the guy was.

IC is a very diverse community, unusual for the midwest. Kinda like our very own San Francisco. Yes, it's hot and humid, but only for a month or so (starting right now).

maestrowork
08-09-2008, 02:25 AM
Big cities like LA, NYC and Chicago have the best media/creative markets. I also like Atlanta. Also, try Seattle and Portland.

Cassidy
08-09-2008, 09:02 AM
Hey, I was going to suggest Seattle and Portland too. Or hop across the border... Victoria is a great little city!

blacbird
08-09-2008, 11:01 AM
Big cities like LA, NYC and Chicago have the best media/creative markets. I also like Atlanta. Also, try Seattle and Portland.

Gackle, North Dakota isn't so good, though.

caw

CBumpkin
08-09-2008, 12:04 PM
Minneapolis, Minnesota is supposed to be a mecca for writers. Artsy town, friendly to writers. Cold winters to keep you indoors with nothing to do but write.

Phoebe H
08-09-2008, 12:20 PM
Your genre might make a difference, too. For instance, Seattle is a particularly good city for science fiction & fantasy, or for videogame writing.

maestrowork
08-09-2008, 01:45 PM
San Francisco, too.

willietheshakes
08-09-2008, 05:34 PM
Victoria is a great little city!

Too many damn writers, though.

Melenka
08-10-2008, 04:59 AM
Shame you ruled out the midwest. Others have mentioned Iowa City, which is lovely and has a lot to offer. Lincoln, NE is also a great city for creative endeavors. It's clean, affordable, more diverse than you'd have any reason to suspect, and the university has amazing cultural programs. Omaha has one of the best play writing conferences in the country. I hear even Edward Albee is sociable at it, and that's saying something.

Madsion, WI is also a funky little city with a lot going on. Like most places in WI, it gets a ton of snow in the winter, but that's good for long BIC sessions.

Red-Green
08-10-2008, 08:45 PM
Bart, you need to move to Lawrence. :D Heck we even got decent weather this summer.


I know you said you don't want to move to the midwest, but let me emphasize this:

STAY THE HELL OUT OF KANSAS!

Seriously, don't even drive through. The streets roll up at 5:30 sharp, and if you're out after sundown, by gum, you must be one of them thar devil worshipers.

I can mock Kansas all I damn well want, thank you. Seriously. Overland Park has exactly two independent book stores: one is a Christian bookstore, in which I am physically unwelcome, and the other is Rainy Day Books, which does its very best to carry the exact same titles as Borders. I seriously hate where I live. /derail.

Jackfishwoman
08-12-2008, 06:43 AM
Mountain region:
Boulder Colorado (home of Naropa University which is home of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics; see: http://www.naropa.edu/academics/graduate/writingpoetics/mfalowres/index.cfm

and also, what about Ann Arbor Michigan? a cool university town with lots of writers/activists.

Cassidy
08-12-2008, 08:23 AM
Too many damn writers, though.

what, you mean it's not just you and me?

geardrops
08-12-2008, 09:19 AM
San Francisco, too.

Was wondering when someone was going to say it.

And don't believe that it's a hot city. South Bay gets hot (a fact with which I am acutely familiar, due to my lack of a/c), but SF? Good lord, no. It's its own microclimate.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/chartTempDownload.do?cobjId=13430

Adam Israel
08-12-2008, 09:24 AM
Bart, you need to move to Lawrence. :D Heck we even got decent weather this summer.

I love Lawrence, KS.

willietheshakes
08-12-2008, 07:31 PM
what, you mean it's not just you and me?

I've heard there are a few others.

Haggis
08-12-2008, 07:52 PM
and also, what about Ann Arbor Michigan? a cool university town with lots of writers/activists.

...and one writer/inactivist.

Susan B
08-12-2008, 08:06 PM
I'm a transplanted Chicagoan living in the SF Bay Area. Only started writing after I got here. It's a very rich writing community and supposedly has the most solid independent bookstore presence in the country.

www.redroom.com (an online writer's community based in the Bay Area)

Several good MFA writing programs (SF State, USF, UC Davis)

And the climate is very temperate in SF or across the bay in Berkeley/Oakland (where I live)

NeuroFizz
08-13-2008, 06:36 AM
Bess you stay out of our Souf. Jess mite mess up yo steereo stearo stereotipes bout us all. Ya no, we got us some universitees doun heer, and we got us some creetive riting programs, and rite cheer in my home citee we eeven got us some riters like Clyde Edgerton and Philip Gerard at are little city universitee's creetive riting program, wiff some of da best MFA and BFA studints around. Course dis is da Souf, so we's jes prolly thinkin we's as good y'all oh-so-classy Northernurs. Butt ya no whut happins wen we git all them new fangled double-wides, so's we's reely feelin are oats.

Haggis
08-13-2008, 07:31 AM
Bess you stay out of our Souf. Jess mite mess up yo steereo stearo stereotipes bout us all. Ya no, we got us some universitees doun heer, and we got us some creetive riting programs, and rite cheer in my home citee we eeven got us some riters like Clyde Edgerton and Philip Gerard at are little city universitee's creetive riting program, wiff some of da best MFA and BFA studints around. Course dis is da Souf, so we's jes prolly thinkin we's as good y'all oh-so-classy Northernurs. Butt ya no whut happins wen we git all them new fangled double-wides, so's we's reely feelin are oats.

*copies and pastes in email to Fizz's publisher*

Madison
08-13-2008, 08:34 AM
If you don't want expensive, stay out of Seattle. Just sayin'...

benbradley
08-13-2008, 08:38 AM
Bess you stay out of our Souf. Jess mite mess up yo steereo stearo stereotipes bout us all. Ya no, we got us some universitees doun heer, and we got us some creetive riting programs, and rite cheer in my home citee we eeven got us some riters like Clyde Edgerton and Philip Gerard at are little city universitee's creetive riting program, wiff some of da best MFA and BFA studints around. Course dis is da Souf, so we's jes prolly thinkin we's as good y'all oh-so-classy Northernurs. Butt ya no whut happins wen we git all them new fangled double-wides, so's we's reely feelin are oats.
An doncha fergit three of are gratest riters, Lewis Grizzard (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url?%5Fencoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Lewis%20Grizzard) and Ludlow Porch (http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Ludlow%20Porch&page=1).

blacbird
08-13-2008, 08:41 AM
Minneapolis, Minnesota is supposed to be a mecca for writers. Artsy town, friendly to writers. Cold winters to keep you indoors with nothing to do but write.

Oh, no, by golly, ya could go ice-fishin'. Them bluegills make good eatin', long as you ignore the bones, and ya might get ya a good-size walleye, too. And if ya get really bored, ya can visit St. Paul, you betcha.

caw