The Loft offers literary support for life or career transitions

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January 20, 2003 // UPDATED 12:04 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Caitlin Pine
Caitlin Pine

Organization strives to attract younger students

After a stint at a design firm in New York City, 26-year- old Rachel Hutton returned to Minneapolis to begin a new career in writing. Hutton, who holds an engineering degree from Stanford, was ready for a new direction. "New York City was an expensive place to find your self," she said.

After returning back home to the CARAG neighborhood of Southwest Minneapolis, Hutton took her first step towards her new career by signing up for a freelance writing class at the Loft Literary Center in Downtown. Hutton also began applying for full-time internships at publications to replace her two part-time jobs.

"I'm a hands- on learner," explained Hutton. "[The Loft class] was pretty basic, but it was things that you wouldn't have known if you hadn't done it before."

Huttone enjoyed learning from an experienced freelance writer who took a realistic approach to the subject. "If you thought you could be writing 3,000- word articles for Vanity Fair after sending out one letter, you wouldn't think that after this class," she said.

Though the class taught the nuts and bolts of freelance life, focusing mainly on how to market yourself and get your foot in the door in a highly -competitive business, what Hutton enjoyed the most was simply spending time with the other writers.

"That was the fun part of it. There was a diverse mix of people, people of different ages and backgrounds. The thing that linked us is that we were all in kind of a transition. There were people right out of college and older people who might have had a background in education and now wanted to do freelancing for educational publication," said Hutton.

As a twenty-something Hutton tended to be one of the younger members of her classes. Of the Loft's 3800 students per term, the average tends to be over 30, white and higher income.

"To the Loft's credit they are trying to do something about that. I'm on a committee that is working to attract younger students," said Hutton. That committee has already changed some of The Loft's thinking about what younger people want.

"When we first started we thought 18 to 30- year- olds would like more performance oriented or more genre oriented classes," said Sarah Anderson, the Loft's community relations director. After talking to Hutton and others, the Loft has realized that young people want the same things as their older clientele, such as how to write fiction or sell their work. "They also are career oriented and want structured and fast-paced classes," said Anderson.

Hutton's career change is quickly taking root. After a three-month internship at Minnesota Monthly, Hutton is now an editorial assistant for the magazine. "I'm at the lowest rung of the totem pole," she laughed. Although she is happy to be at her first writing job, Hutton predicts she will soon tire of writing in the same style and format. Her next Loft endeavor, a creative writing class, will help her pick up at home where her work leaves off.