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ChiTownScreenwriting with Kat O'Brien - Issue #9 | Deciding You're a Writer & #BVE

ChiTownScreenwriting
Welcome back to ChiTown Screenwriting with Kat O'Brien!
In this week’s issue:
  • On Writing & Creating: Deciding You’re a Writer
  • Tips and Tricks: Inclusivity & Accessibility
  • Wisdom & What I’m Loving: “Special Stuff” & #BVE
  • Workshops and Events: Getting Out There
  • Someone You Should Know: Maegan Poland

Kat's Notes
Last week, we explored fearless creation in action, highlighting opportunities to elevate stories that need telling and retelling, and to connect and engage in meaningful mentorships.
This week, we’re continuing on that theme of being fearless in our creative work by demystifying some of the more opaque processes behind getting our work out there in an effort to make getting published and produced more accessible. The secret? Finding time, confidence, and support. Inside this issue, industry insiders share what’s working for them.
I’m especially excited to feature this week’s guest contributor Maegan Poland, fiction writer and professor and Drexel University, whose debut short story collection What Makes You Think You’re Awake? was released this week by Blair Publishers. You can get your copy here.
I’ve also opened our call for submissions to publish, produce, or promote your work or upcoming projects in this newsletter. Scroll to the end to find out all the ways we’re trying to optimize this newsletter to create opportunities for its subscribers. Thanks for connecting & engaging.
On Writing & Creating: Deciding You're A Writer
This week’s guest contributor is Maegan Poland, author of the story collection What Makes You Think You’re Awake? from Blair Publishers.
On Deciding You’re a Writer by Maegan Poland
My first book, a collection of short stories titled What Makes You Think You’re Awake?, was just published, and I’m nearly forty years old. Many publish their first book later in life, but I often see younger writers fretting about their age as it pertains to their publication record thus far. I remember being in my twenties in Los Angeles, writing my screenplays and working jobs that became less and less satisfying. I eventually left LA to focus on writing fiction. I’d always planned to make that transition at some point, but failing to launch a successful screenwriting career hastened my pivot to an MFA in fiction at the University of Mississippi.
For the first two years, I didn’t even consider submitting my work. I was just reading and practicing and learning. But I felt the creeping need for validation, which I thought would come from publishing my work. I succumbed to that insidious falsehood that if I just did x, y, or z, then I would be a “real writer.” Friends who had already published would tell me not to worry, that I was just getting started, but I had already been dedicated to my writing for over ten years; I’d just focused on a different genre. This idea that I was “just getting started” made me feel even more unworthy of declaring myself a writer.
Then a famous writer (let’s call him Richard Fjord) came to teach at my MFA program. On the first day he told us (now I’m paraphrasing since several years have passed) that he would not tell us if we were good or bad writers, and he would not tell us if we should quit writing, unless we asked him to. I was elated. I figured I was off the hook. I would never ask and therefore I’d never hear a crushing verdict from Richard Fjord that I wasn’t worthy of calling myself a writer. A classmate made the mistake of asking Fjord if he was a good writer, and he got the disappointing response that I had feared I would receive if I were so brazen as to pose the question. Later, though, I wondered if perhaps Fjord’s whole point was that no one should ever ask. Maybe I had already passed the test; I refused to ask because I knew I was going to keep writing anyway, so why seek a verdict that might just cause me to lose momentum and lick my wounds for a month or two? Perhaps I’d given up screenwriting, but I never could give up writing. 
I’m happiest when I commit to writing as a ritual, a spiritual act of meeting the task with the faith that my persistent puzzling over the words and images will yield an elevated sense of awareness. I want the writing process to reveal the unexpected, to allow room for discovery. When this is my goal, the writing works.
When I forget this, the anxiety of “being a good writer” takes over. I think about my age and the publication rate. It turns out that accomplishing x, y, and z is not enough to feel validated. If you’re like me, one of your favorite writers can pick your manuscript in a contest and you can still doubt yourself. I’m also left with anxiety about my future writing: How long will it take me to finish this novel draft? Is that fast enough? Am I even a writer if it takes this long to publish my next book?
If I am honest, I will always oscillate between the centered place of ritual and the anxious need for validation. When I place too much importance on the external measures of worth, I have to return to the ritual. It is a matter of commitment and faith. There cannot be any other option. The writing must happen. It will work. I will not ask anyone else for permission. This self-declaration also is an act of faith — a part of the ritual that has to be reenacted each day. Turn off the internet for a bit. Stop comparing timelines. Don’t ask Richard Fjord if you should keep writing. Just write.
Available now from Blair Publishers
Available now from Blair Publishers
On My Feed: Tips & Tricks
Realized my tips and RTs this past week focused on inclusivity and accessibility, perhaps not coincidentally, as June is PRIDE month.
How are we making our Creative Community more inclusive, accessible, and seeking ways to empathize with each other, understand each other, elevate and support each other?
Also, below, I unpack this week’s #Thursday #Thread on how busy people make time to write with additional insight into my tricks for getting it done.
NPR
Not sure how to ask someone their pronouns? Or confused about what different gender terms mean?

We put together a 101 guide to common terms about gender identity, how to talk about gender respectfully — and why it matters 👇
https://t.co/5hwHcIxvvD
Christopher Cantwell
We made the paper for #Pride2021 ! Very proud of our new Cap character! https://t.co/W5PpGC4rQy
Frank Abney
Filmmaking/Storytelling isn’t just an opportunity to entertain imo. I think we have a responsibility to educate as well.
#film #filmmaking
Kat O'Brien
Yes! If it's thematically relevant and emotionally resonant, it will engage and that - I think - is what makes the entertainment (when it is that) meaningful.

#chitownscreenwriting #TheKOBMagicIdea https://t.co/xWJXJ0vsuE
Kat O'Brien
I always tell writers on their "breaking in" journey to strategize opportunities by creating a deadline calendar.
Add this one:
https://t.co/Zh1eZqLw2J

#Tuesday #Tip #WritingCommunity #screenwriters #amwriting #chitownscreenwriting #pipelinewriters
Sony Pictures Television Launches Diverse Writers Program With Sixteen Aspiring Scribes
The Black List
One feature writer will be selected for a two-step Guild minimum blind deal as a part of the second round of our partnership with @mgmstudios! Screenwriters interested in the family-comedy and/or action-comedy space are encouraged to apply.

Learn more: https://t.co/1hY8lZKkAC https://t.co/HOW5NevD8U
Kat O'Brien
Mentorship Matters: this week's #chitownscreenwriting newsletter shares all the 411 on how to sign up to be a mentor & mentee with #StartWith8Hollywood and WOC United @TheJTCList.

If we're going to change the game, we gotta get all the players on the field. Amirite @TedLasso? https://t.co/lLxPhVPPyP
Kat O'Brien
Can't wait to check this out and as I've been a fan of @jeannevb's work for a long time, no doubt will be adding this to my course recommended reading lists for my students!

#scriptchat #pipelinewriters #stayreckless #chitownscreenwriting #amwriting #WritingCommunity https://t.co/eSlflp6A93
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman
*drumroll* As we're talking bout starting #writing career at older age, I get a text that my 1st book came out today!

#BallsofSteel: #Screenwriter Mindset - Compilation of my @scriptmag articles + new stuff!

https://t.co/rmXawM4H39

#scriptchat #pipelinewriters #stayreckless https://t.co/aZ3VORvJaR
Steal This Trick: Think-Writing & Speed-Writing
For those of us juggling multiple jobs, caregiving roles, and other responsibilities while writing and creating, being intentional about carving out time to write is essential to getting it done. Here’s my #Thursday (expanded) #Thread (as promised!) on the art and craft behind micro-managing your creative time.
Kat O'Brien
How do busy people find everyday moments to #write? Like anything else, we squeeze it in. Use your day to day micro-moments to get it done. This can be a great way to develop your craft and story, in whatever bursts of free time/distracted energy you have. 🧵
When do you write?
When do you write?
Twitter Poll: Write-at-Night was the unanimous winner. I know some folks get up early and do morning pages, others can find time during the day, others stay up late– and as a parent, I definitely have to juggle modules of creative time around my kids’ needs. For the most part I’ve always been a night-writer because I like the quiet, and compared writing while juggling other jobs to juggling my writing assignments during film school. I’ve always had to find a way to squeeze in writing time to accommodate other obligations, even when my primary gig is writing on assignment.
When I had the luxury to write during the day though, I realized I’m actually most able to get into my writing flow state between 10AM - 2PM. Now that I have two school-aged kids, making time to write during their school day and catching up on other, lite-focus work at night (when I’m more tired/more distracted) leaves me feeling more accomplished, productive, and less stressed about making deadlines.
Kat O'Brien
I'm a fan of *Think-Writing*
1/ Commuting? Listen to podcasts/audiobooks for research and development.

#WritingCommunity #amwriting #pipelinewriters #screenwriters #creativity #CreativeLives #chitownscreenwriting
On *Think-Writing*… I recall having once read that Stephanie Myers wrote Twilight during her kids’ swim lessons, in her head, then got it down on the page at night. You can read Myers’ tale of getting published here.
When I Think-Write, I’m usually tasking on something else – riding, running, commuting, showering, cleaning the house, gardening, hanging with my kids at the park. Basically anything *but* staring at the screen. Sometimes even watching other shows and movies helps me Think-Write, too. I use this time to let my mind wander over what the story could be, and/or to listen to podcasts or do calls and convos for research or ideation and development. All of it’s legit. Maximizing our creative resources means finding ways to creatively multi-task. Give your mind a chance to wander while getting other things done.
Kat O'Brien
2/ Work Breaks? Service Gig? Retail? Taking the kids out to play? Observing human interactions in public, eavesdropping 😉🤷‍♀️ on dialogue on your breaks, etc can help you hone your ear for unique and catchy dialogue and note character inspo for your stories. https://t.co/KjCseZ6zbV
Eavesdropping. Really? Really. This is a fave tip that always gets a reaction from my students. Look, it’s hard not to overhear conversations when we’re in proximity to others speaking loudly, in public. Many writers are natural observers and you can use that to your advantage wherever you are. Instead of losing yourself in your phone, just watch and observe. When you do, really listen to others around you. Some might call it eavesdropping. If I’m being cheeky (and honest) I’ll call it the same. But if you can find a way to not be creepy about it (which I recommend, and everyone’s gotta figure that out for themselves), I think there’s a lot we can learn from others simply by being more present in our co-existence, and intentional about how we process that time. Who knows? You might even listen your way into an opportunity to make a new connection, or a new friend.
And on that note… word to the wise, steal this Old Hollywood tip: do not use last names if you’re talking sh*t about someone else in public. I would recommend using elaborate code names. Others might advise maybe just don’t talk sh*t, cuz who needs that karma? I might advise the same. Might.
Kat O'Brien
3/ High Drama/High Stress situations? Cope by turning it into a rage-vent comedy. Start with monologues about the things you wish you could say, and refine it from there.

#ThisIsNotBasedOnTrueEvents https://t.co/gwPgVS4r2V
In case you don’t know, now you know: if you’ve ever crossed a petty writer– you’re not so vain, that song really is about you.
Kat O'Brien
Also a big fan of *Speed-Writing*
4/ The Pomodoro Technique or Focus Keeper app gives you 25 minute countdown clocks to stay focused without distractions. Get as much done as you can in that time, give yourself a 5 minute break, and start again.
https://t.co/ETs3lQl1gl
On *Speed-Writing*… Okay. So, shifting gears to productivity and focus tricks. Speed-Writing is my go-to. When I’m battling distractions? Hot tip: I use the Focus Keeper app which is similar to The Pomodoro Technique. The trick is to stick with it. It’s gonna feel weird at first and you must close all the browser tabs and put your phone away. It requires some self-discipline to get through the first few focus periods. What I found though, is that over a given period of time, it also helps me calm my distracted energy and my focus gradually pours into the work at hand, and I even find myself going beyond the 25min windows to build up to longer periods of focus and longer breaks. It trains me mentally when I lack the discipline to otherwise mental-override, to eventually get focused on the creative task at hand.
Kat O'Brien
5/ Stream of Consciousness Pages. Butt in chair. Stay at the keyboard. Write to music, or a timer, without stopping. No editing while you go. Whatever’s on your mind, get it out on the page. Edit later. https://t.co/WTKawJBw1P
Stream of Consciousness Pages are a great way to intentionally turn off editor-brain and procrastinator-brain and distractor-brain. This is my other go-to Speed-Writing trick. Sometimes the Focus Keeper app gets me there, other times it’s playing instrumental music like a movie score that’s tonally in the wheel house of what I want to write. I make playlists prior to long writing sessions for the emotional moments I want to reach on the page. That playlist trick is one that I’ve found especially helpful in writing break-up scenes, however weird that is. As a rom-com writer, you’ve gotta be able to land a heart-wrenching break up scene. I haven’t gone through that many break-ups and I frankly don’t feel like reliving the ones I have experienced– so to get to that place emotionally, I go more into my actor bag of tricks and try sense-memory music. I look for adjacent emotions, adjacent memories, the various stages of grief, and try to work my way to the emotional heart of the moment that way. Once I’m in that emotional space, I can shift into that creative flow state and by allowing myself to write without edits, I can stay there for as long as I need to in order to get everything on the page.
Kat O'Brien
6/ Pace Yourself. Take it 3-5-10 pages at a time. Whether drafting or editing, celebrate the accomplishment and productivity.

#WritingCommunity #amwriting #pipelinewriters #screenwriters #creativity #CreativeLives #chitownscreenwriting https://t.co/TAhe4wrSsl
When Speed-Writing, I find it essential to pace myself. I’m going all out. It’s a sprint. But I’m no Pheidippides (Φιλιππίδης), this isn’t the Battle of Marathon, and my competitive running days are way (way) behind me. I no longer find joy in the-sprint-until-I-collapse. Nike! Victory! Rejoice! We conquered!… What exactly? While that sort of intensity did bring me a sense of accomplishment when I was younger, I find that the quality of my work when I sprint-write in focused bursts is stronger. Like, after writing for 18 hours and it’s 3am, everything is hilarious. When I Speed-Write, I plan to sprint through sequences or chapters – and then I give myself a break. Sometimes I go by pages – 3, 5, 10 at a time. Whether drafting or editing, breaking the work down into manageable chunks and then celebrating that accomplishment is my key to staying motivated and on track to get it done.
Writers' Wisdom: What I've Been Loving
This week, I’m celebrating Venus Williams’s mic drop heard ‘round the world. Tamika Spaulding declares it #BVE. Love. It. With that in mind, I’m also loving how Ed Solomon (MIB, Bill & Ted) reminded twitter that we’ve all had the secret stuff inside us all along (thank you also Space Jam).
World applauds Venus Williams’ response to Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from French Open | The Feed
TV Fanatic👑⚜️
Venus Williams said your insults can’t reach me because you’re not at my level😂🔥

https://t.co/z6vGdIAJB5
Tamika J. Spaulding
@TvKhaleesi I've watched this like 20 times. Venus said the quiet part out loud, in front of a mic, on camera, closed captioned and broadcast around the world. I hereby declare the death of BDE and present you with...

BVE: Big Venus Energy

This is that changmeaker sh*t @uknowKatOBrien.
Ed Solomon on How To Deal With I Should Be Writing Guilt & Anxiety:
Kat O'Brien
#SelfCare #Saturday this is a great thread from @ed_solomon. Thank you for sharing your wisdom! https://t.co/wB7G6qXOMV
Ed Solomon
I was struggling today to get inside something I’m working on. And was doubting my own abilities. And someone - bizarrely - retweeted this thing I’d totally forgotten I’d written over 3 yrs ago. And - crazily - it kind of helped me. https://t.co/FP4v3Cbm8C
Ed Solomon
Here are a few things that work for me, in no particular order. I hope it helps. (Curious to hear how others deal with these very common feelings.) 1. Meditation. It not only increases base levels of clarity, concentration and equanimity, but it can provide a much-needed break 1/ https://t.co/XCWc4PwQAC
Ed Solomon
..in an otherwise stressful day. You can begin your day with it (which helps make the other parts more manageable, and therefore less tiring), or use it to divide your day up. It can be like a power nap, but one where, rather than shutting down your mind, you're in fact.. 2/
Ed Solomon
..training it. If you do it before writing, it can help you get to a deeper place in a shorter time. It also helps with managing that anxiety that comes from feeling like you're not doing enough. It helps with all anxiety. 2. Find the joy again in the writing. What do I mean.. 3/
Ed Solomon
..by that? There's a reason you're drawn to it. Try and locate it, and access it, and abide in that. If you can do that, you can USE your writing NOT as something you "should" be doing, but, rather, as a BREAK from the other parts of your life. But of course that requires.. 4/
Ed Solomon
.. number 3, which is: fight for your writing time. It's actually more work than you think, to aggressively find - and block out - time to write. And give yourself enough of a window so that you're not rushing, or feeling pressure (for me I need at least a 3 hour window). 5/
Ed Solomon
And remember: "writing" is not only "pen on paper," or "fingers on keys." Sometimes it's just slow, seemingly-unproductive mulling. You need to allow time for that, too. Which leads me to 4. When you're NOT writing (ie, when you're attending to all the other duties you have), 6/
Ed Solomon
..try as best as you can to have a FULL EXPERIENCE of what you're doing. Whether it's driving carpool or doing dishes or working the day job. The more focused you can be on what you're ACTUALLY doing (as opposed to doing ONE thing while feeling you SHOULD be doing another).. 7/
Ed Solomon
..the more the thing you're actually doing will be, in fact, relaxing. Or, at least, less stressful. (This is where meditation helps, too: with practice, you can turn other parts of your day into a kind of walking/living meditation, which in turns saves/builds energy for the.. 8/
Ed Solomon
..other tasks.) Which leads me to 5. (This is a variation on 2 above.) Try and use your writing as a break from your other routine - and, similarly, use your other routine as a break from your writing. Believe it or not, this is very doable. It's about a MINDSET that involves 9/
Ed Solomon
ALLOWING yourself to be doing EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING. Sounds easy? not so much when you feel you "should" be doing something else. Allow yourself your "regular" day - and, similarly, allow yourself your writing time. Which leads to 6. Your unconscious. Trust in it. 10/
Ed Solomon
WITH INTENTION, your subconscious mind can actually do some of the work for you. But you need to set the intention. Sometimes, for me, it helps if, before I set out to do another task (any of the daily routine that, say, being a parent involves), I give myself the conscious 11/
Ed Solomon
intention to, at a deeper level, work on something. Then I consciously DON'T think about it. It works more often than you'd think. (Note that there's a difference between PROCRASTINATION and CONSCIOUSLY NOT WORKING.) Finally, I'd say there's 6. Which is: 12/
Ed Solomon
Get rid of the "shoulds." Believe in your own life, and its value, and the need to do the things you are doing. And ALLOW them to happen. Writing is a delicate thing. It can't withstand the pressure of being the thing that "should" be happening when you are doing the other.. 13/
Ed Solomon
and very necessary parts of your day. It can't withstand the guilt, or the self-reprimands. It's possible that when you release that weight from it, it will be not just a refuge from the pressures of the rest of your life, but, rather, a delightful escape. But you need to.. 14/
Ed Solomon
..give it permission to be that. And finally (I know, I said the last one was finally, but I just remembered this one): 7. Tell the rest of your family they can go f*** themselves for a while. And guess what? They'll be fine. They WANT to see their mom do what is deeply.. 15/
Ed Solomon
..meaningful to her. And to have joy. And to explore her inner world. Even if nothing "comes" of it (ie, it doesn't sell). My mom is a painter. And for some years during our youth she gave it up to parent. It turns out that that didn't help her - and it didn't help US. 16/
Ed Solomon
It's hard. All this is hard. Finding the balance is hard. But it's a BALANCE. If you can give yourself permission to do both, maybe that balance will help with all aspects. And it takes time. Building these skills takes time and gentle encouragement that will only really come 17/
Ed Solomon
..from within yourself. But you have to fight the outside world for that space. Oh one more thing. (Sorry) 8. Find a separate place to do your writing. Like a coffee shop, or a tiny office, or something. That helps not just set your intention (ie, "I'm going here to work"), 18/
Ed Solomon
..but it physically separates you from everything. Sometimes you have to do that to get your into a different mental state as well. Sorry this went so long. Thank you for reading this far, if you did. I wish you the best. You're not at all alone in this. 19/19
On My Calendar: Writing Workshops & Events
If you’re zoomed out, you can still sign up to attend many virtual events and get the video recording later. We are in a unique time for unprecedented virtual access to amazing workshops and opportunities to continue to learn and engage as a community of content creators and collaborators. Thanks to my creative partner Tamika J. Spaulding @tjmadeafunny for curating this wonderful list for us!
  • Writers Guild Foundation
  • Thursday, 6/10 @ 4 pm PT
  • Women’s Weekend Film Challenge
  • Sunday, 6/13 @ 4:30 pm CT
  • Alliance of Women Directors & Seed and Spark
  • Monday, 6/14 @ 5 pm CT
On My Calendar: #SelfCare
Whenever I’ve been too long in the trenches on warrior-mode, or stuck in my head on something that’s got me stressed, anxious, or feeling sad, I really find it hard to find the funny. To shake a sad mood, negative attitude, or stressed-out brood, I binge comedy shows and nachos (and do some extra cardio).
ALE
Thursday night is Hacks night now
Yes! And the final two episodes land this week on HBOMax: June 10.
It took me until the end of the second episode to really get into HBO’s Hacks, and took me a few more to really invest in the characters, but once I got there, I thought the show was on fire. Binge this show now. HBOMax dropped 2 eps a week for the past few weeks and this week we’ll get the final two of the season. As of now, HBO has not yet publicly committed to renewing Season 2, so please watch ASAP! I’m def going to binge it for the fiercely funny feminist comedy that frankly, sometimes, misfires. Because of the risks they took, I think I love it even more. This show goes boldly for the really uncomfortable, painful comedy and I celebrate that BVE!
ROSIE
bravo jean smart - just epic - watch this show on #hbomax https://t.co/3QTXPmPU78
Save The Date! This weekend in Chicago | June 12: The Japanese Culture Center Chicago will be presenting an Ikebana Walking Exhibition in the Lakeview / Roscoe Village / Southport Corridor with Japanese Culture Center Ikebana instructors, artists, and students from two different schools of Ikebana; Ikenobo and Ohara Ryu. 
See event sign up for more information
See event sign up for more information
This event is free of charge, and there will be a ribbon cutting at an opening ceremony on June 12 at 12 PM CDT with local community leaders and special guests. Also, there is going to be a free sake tasting at Galleria Liqueurs from 1-4PM on both days of the event!
Writers' Spotlight: Someone You Should Know
MAEGAN POLAND | Fiction Writer
Thank you to this week’s guest contributor, Maegan Poland, who also made time to answer a few questions for our ChiTown Screenwriting Spotlight to share her thoughts on getting out there and getting published.
KO: On getting out there & submitting work… How do writers get into various publications? Do you recommend researching & charting your submission deadlines? Is there something like “Film Freeway” … but for literary publications and contests? 
MP: I have been and still am an almost exclusively slush-pile submitter for fiction. I wish I had a cooler strategy to share but that’s really it. I submit to the slush pile and I hope for acceptances, which also means I get quite a few rejections. I’m currently focused on my novel and taking a tiny break from submitting short stories, but I try to always have at least a handful of outgoing submissions, since many of the journals I like take six to twelve months to respond. I keep a list of my favorite journals and their approximate submission windows. These dates may change each year, but they tend to gravitate to the same general timeframe. I used to use Duotrope to keep track of my submissions, but now I just keep a spreadsheet. You can also keep track of your submissions on Submittable; recently, they added a feature that lets you log submissions for journals that do not use Submittable. Other than that, I follow quite a few writers on Twitter (that’s primarily why I’m even on Twitter), and I pay attention to any calls for submissions they post. 
KO: On getting published … How did you find and connect with Blair? How do writers seeking to publish a collection of short stories? How are you planning to publish your novel?
MP: A few agents reached out to me based on previous story publications, but they wanted a novel first. I wanted to prioritize my short story collection, so I submitted to a handful of contests and was very fortunate that Blair Press was one of them and the judge (Carmen Maria Machado) selected my book. As far as strategy goes, look at who the press has recently published. I was impressed that Blair had recently published May-lee Chai (Useful Phrases for Immigrants, winner of the American Book Award). Also, pick a contest that will be judged by a writer who is more likely to get what you are doing. I had no idea if Carmen Maria Machado would connect with my manuscript, but I loved her writing and I knew there were certain parallels in terms of thematic focus. If I hadn’t gone the contest route, I would have focused on querying agents. I still am unagented, so that will be the next challenge, when my novel is ready.
Maegan Poland, Author of What Makes You Think You're Awake?
Maegan Poland, Author of What Makes You Think You're Awake?
Maegan Poland @Maegan_Poland lives in Philadelphia, where she teaches creative writing and composition at Drexel University. Her debut short story collection What Makes You Think You’re Awake? was selected by Carmen Maria Machado to win the Bakwin Award and was published in 2021 by Blair Press. Her fiction has been published in Mississippi Review, Pleiades, Beloit Fiction Journal, Juked, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. She has received a Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize anthology, a Tin House scholarship, and a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. She is currently working on a novel. You can find more information on her website at www.maeganpoland.com. You can buy her story collection here.
Connect & Contribute to #chitownscreenwriting
Writers and creators, in Chicago and around the world, please share ChiTown Screenwriting with anyone you think might enjoy it, and be sure to let us know how ChiTown Screenwriting can uplift or support you and your projects. As we continue to build community + opportunity, I’m actively seeking to hand the feature reins over to other voices besides my own. I got this party started, you can find me at the bar/on the dance floor, I want to put *you* in the spotlight/center stage!
Upcoming Issues | Call for submissions!
We’re looking for feature essays, random thoughts, creative pieces, images and/or videos exploring the following topics:
Ongoing Call for Submissions!
As this grassroots movement finds its voice and expands our reach, we’ll continue to solicit content contributions in the areas of:
  • advice on writing and creating
  • tips and tricks on twitter (tag me @uknowkatobrien if you got some!)
  • wisdom, think: self care, mindfulness, changemaking and more
  • workshops and events to continue our professional development, and foster opportunities for connection, and collaboration
  • as well as writers and creators you should know
  • cool projects launching that we should spotlight
Who’s someone that I should know, ChiTown Screenwriting creators? Ping me @uknowkatobrien.
If you enjoyed this, or have writing/creative life questions I can unpack and answer, or are looking for support to promote your work and projects, reach out and let me know? And please share widely! #grassroots #letsgo
Thanks for reading, and see you next week #chitownscreenwriting!
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Kat O'Brien
Kat O'Brien @uknowKatOBrien

ChiTown Screenwriting is a movement, a mindset, and a publication that I write and edit. We're building community by connecting creative collaborators to opportunities.

Each issue features advice on writing and creating, tips & tricks, wit & wisdom, workshops & events, and spotlights on artists you should know. Within those formats, we're sharing and unpacking strategies to navigate the business, as well as writing prompts and lessons in the art and craft of screenwriting to navigate professional development in the creative process.

As a screenwriter, producer, and changemaker with over 20 years experience in the film industry based in Los Angeles, and connected around the world, I'm here to share my own experiences as well as curated content in the form of wisdom and resources through conversations with my creative partners and collaborators, as well as special guest contributors from the ChiTown Screenwriting Community, and other inspirations throughout the twitterverse. I'm also a professor, wife, and mom and am always discovering new ways to find balance and sustain my creative goals and am excited to share that with you! 

Whether you're in Chicago or just love the ChiTown collaborator mindset (good peeps, generous support!), join us to connect to a community of creatives seizing opportunities to sustain their dreams, and support their professional/personal work/life goals. 

ChiTown Screenwriting is a local community that will welcome you when you visit to work or play in the City of Big Shoulders, with international reach, breadth, and depth of perspective. 

Join us to support fellow writers and creatives at all stages of their professional career, and to cultivate a critical discourse around the cultural relevance and future of independent storytelling.

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