To celebrate our 20th Anniversary in 2023, we’re highlighting 20 stories that have helped shape StoryStudio over the years. Each month of 2023, we’ll be featuring one or two members of our community as they share their story. Whether they came from the very first class that Jill started in 2003 when StoryStudio was just a few folding chairs and a dream, or they’re from the most recent cohort of Novel in a Year students, on their way to publishing a book; these members make StoryStudio what it is.
Below is Carol Ludwick’s story.
When the student is ready, the teacher appears. At least, that’s how it was for me in the fall of 2004 when I first landed in the cozy embrace of StoryStudio. I had recently finished laboring over the completion of a Civil War novel that my father was unable to wrap up before he passed.
I wasn’t yet a writer when I took this on. But after working with a tireless, saintly editor who shepherded me through the often brutal job of taking a compelling, yet rambling story and shaping it into a proper novel, I realized I wanted to be. Luckily, I was smart enough to know I needed to learn how.
My first course was probably Story Basics and the instructor was Jill, someone born to teach. You know that deep sigh of relief that grounds you when you realize you’re right where you should be? Well that’s how I felt by the end of my first class. Inspired, encouraged, guided and left with an eagerness for more.
The diverse course curriculum beckoned and I took full advantage of the abundance, working my way through course after course, savoring each offering, looking for my niche.
Still relatively new to Chicago I was trying find my footing. At StoryStudio, I found my tribe. The sense of community was palpable as was the camaraderie of working side by side with others who had the same goal, to be the best storytellers they could be. And some of those storytellers became cherished friends.
The sense of community was palpable as was the camaraderie of working side by side with others who had the same goal, to be the best storytellers they could be. And some of those storytellers became cherished friends.
I was pretty invested in the place an even worked as a staffer for a bit, where I enjoyed writing blog posts for Cooler by the Lake, helping with the transition to an expanded space and assisting Jill during a weekend writing retreat.
StoryStudio was a place that encouraged creative pursuits of all kinds and Jill, ever the supportive champion, was kind enough to let me lead a wine tasting/ story workshop after I started writing the column, A Good Pour, for a neighborhood website.
The foundational skills I learned at StoryStudio continue to serve me well. As a celebrant and an actor, the richness of specificity flavors every ceremony I write and every part I play. I need to be keenly aware of the stakes involved for my clients and my characters and the building block of the story arc reliably gives my work its frame.
I look back on my time at StoryStudio with affection and gratitude. Happy 20th anniversary! May you continue to nurture the dreams of earnest writers for years to come!
Carol Ludwick, Lifecycle Celebrant
Acorn To Oak Ceremonies