Let's talk business. Now before we get into it let me be clear. This is not a "How to Start a Successful Business Guide". This is merely a reflection over my own business faux pas' and how I hope to do better in the future. Like many people during the pandemic, I started my business. There was just one issue. I didn't have a plan. I didn't even have revenue that could successfully run the business or money to really invest into it or a clue as to what I was doing. I knew enough to get started but it had no sustainability. Now that's bad business.
I've wanted my own business for years. I used to surprise people with my interest in starting a non-profit that uplift artist and to hopefully open it up to others who wanted to teach or do art therapy. It would be for the community. Does this at all sound familiar? UrbArts now Urbstetiks, Inc was the non-profit that I could get behind because it was so much like my own vision. Which is why I'll probably go hard for Urbstetiks until I am old.
I put the cart before the horse. I saw marginal success with my artist career, my fitness videos, and my contract work so why not just put it under the LLC. Let me just start by saying that I walked away for more than just a new career. Making money as a artist is complicated and I wanted to be legit. The more success you see the more you need to prepare for taxes. The bigger the show or venue means the more you need to pay a crew. The vision of not just paying yourself but other artist or workers means that you need to fund a payroll. One thing became clear as crystal to me. I could slack on my own dollar, but when it came to how I wanted to also see others succeed I needed to go back to the drawing board of how to truly fund what I could see.
Taking my time in coming back to it all has given me clarity. I could easily write a grant or fellowship application now knowing what I know to go where I need to. It just took time. I had to do my research. I'm still learning a lot but I know that when I go full force I'll be prepared. I'm developing the plan because I started a business and "failed". The truth is I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by how fast it all can happen. It's weird to think that in just 3 years I've learned so much. It doesn't make me want to do it all over, but it does make me want to use more wisdom in the present and in the future.
I look forward to sharing my business endeavors as they flesh themselves out and become fully formed. I have more of a business mind than I ever thought I would. The best thing about the world today is you can learn almost anything at any age.
When I was 13 I had this jean bound journal with rhinestones on it, I doodled on it like it was my own pair of "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" pants. I was convinced I could become the second youngest successfully published author of our time. Everyday I updated the "novel" I would pass it around while in class to give my updates to my readers in real-time. By lunch, I would know which direction to head. The thing about my story is I wanted it to feature kids like my classmates. Not some rich or middle class kids. Just regular smegular kids having a good time goofing off and falling in love. Of course there would be drama that we'd understand and twist and enemies turned frenemies. And any resemblance to real life people or classmates was just a coincidence. Six years ago I decided, once again, to write a novel. I am finally sitting down to do it and by the end of this year I will have a first draft.
Back then, I was nine chapters in when my mom let me make the decision to move to St. Louis. There are two things I didn't do that move that will haunt me for the rest of my years. I didn't save my first time ever electronic journal on a floppy disk (Yes, I am from that era) and I lost my jean studded journal with my world changing novel. I typically am not at a loss for words but I lost two crucial voices of mine at that era. I didn't know it then but my memory keeping was important not just because I'm a writer but because I know just how fast those memories can slip between your fingers like water. And it may not be super important to 32 year old me why I had a crush on that one boy who I couldn't stop thinking about. But it was important to 13 year old me and I want to remember what that was like forever.
According to several studies at this point, our brains (the hippocampus) transfer memories to long-term especially when they are traumatic. With my journals, I've wanted to capture the day to day stuff. I refuse to this day to call it a diary because diaries are something private. My journals I hope are riveting enough to become bestsellers when I'm gone. Always a writer. The loss of the novel is something I always think about. What could I have done with it once it was finished. Everyone loved it, I mean you try to get a bunch of 8th graders to read. The one specialty my book also had was its steamy moments. I mean again, 8th graders. The most scandalous thing was the deep kissing. But it was definitely better than the Iliad.
My Write A Novel in a Year workshop was born because so many people want to finish that novel they've been dreaming about they just don't know how to go about it. Where are those support groups? Where you all start at zero and end up with this thing you've been dreaming of? At the Story Center I noticed that Critique Groups were for short stories or poetry, maybe a chapter but no true support for a novelist. So I created it and the response was surprising. People showed up.
In my case it's been a desire since I was 13 though the story, content, and characters have all changed. In the spirit I still seek it to be a book for that 13 year old me. Something she could read and pass around to her classmates even though it felt a tad grown up. At that time, I got bored with the chapter books. We didn't have a young adult section so I made my way to the adult books and then the reallllly adult books. *wink, wink* I became known as the book slinger and the candy girl in my middle school hallways. Now, I constantly feel in a state of coming full circle.
My novel is going well. I have a little over three months to get it finished and honestly I want to shoot for the end of November. We've got this!
At least that’s the best way I can describe it. From the moment I stepped out of Saint Louis and into this new realm of “what the heck do I want to do with my life”. I stepped away from poetry, from art, from everything that had grown familiar to me and focused on grad school as well as my career. There were a lot of changes and I was taught if you don’t have anything nice to say… I’m kidding of course. There were some really amazing things and moments. However, there were some painful truths and discoveries.
One of these hard truths was my desire to leave youth services. The kids in St. Louis were the spark I needed to go into this career fully as a librarian/manager not just as a full-time employee. I could see the difference it made. The pandemic changed our space and made me focus on the harshness of the organizations. In a lot of ways it was painful to leave St. Louis but in other ways its probably the best decision I ever made. The other hard truth is that if I were to work with teens/young adults in a public library capacity it has to be a urban area. While I have been able to grow my skill set I also realized that I love working independently. I’m didn’t want to be a co-librarian supervising a space. Which led me to switch it up to be a Publication Manager. Which is a job I really loved. But the Midwest was pressing its boot on my neck and the call to go home was stronger that me loving a job.
No one gives you a roadmap when it comes to life, careers, and love. As a black woman I have chosen paths that are a incredible climb. Typically being the only in the room and if I’m not the only I am one of the most vocal. I am a woman of action. I don’t want to just talk about change I want to see it. This means that if a policy needs to be adjusted, rewritten, or re-thought then let’s do it. If a group of employees are feeling unheard then let’s hear them out. If spaces seem to be unsafe for staff then let’s create safety through training and support. Not just verbal support but let’s invite mental health professionals, train managers to offer support, and put our actions where our thoughts are. This means that I tend to be outspoken at meetings and unwavering in my challenge for those in charge.
Now I’m a library resident at Clemson University. Check out my blog for that journey here: http://www.saharasistasols.com/the-library-sis/my-library-resident-journey-begins
But what does this mean for artist me?
I’m working on a novel!! I’ll do my best to keep you all updated on this novel that I’m writing and I’ll go over what I’m doing artistically to stay in it. I’ve had a lot of shifts over the past few years and that means that I’ve been focusing on different things. This big season is called fitness & finance. I’m been whipping my mind, body, and wallet into shape and it’s not a simple year journey. This journey has been in the works since I had my revelation October 2017. I was hoping for “some chill” in my life and let me tell you… I’m chilling. I’m also creating differently. I can’t wait to share that with ya’ll.
Wait? Are we back to Thursday blogs!? I think we are. YAY!
Fitness. Life. Art. Travel.