I kiss the top of my cats head, let the sun play over our bodies, and then walk into my naturally lit living room. I lay down the worries of another ASAP grant application and my concerns that my income from my job isn't enough and breathe in. Inhale. Exhale.
When COVID-19 forced the world to go into quarantine I was astonished at how things moved so quickly to shut down. It was like watching a wave come as you are paddling out into the ocean and being knocked off of your board before you can dive under the wave to miss the hit. A lot of people assume that if you have a job that that means you're good. But many Americans (if not other cultures as well) have multiple streams of income. One of my categories of employment is artist. As an artist I teach, perform, and create. And while I was hit like many other artist, the assumption is that I couldn't possible be failing under the wave. I could and am.
The biggest difference is that I also have a job, that I am extremely grateful to have. But I realized that my income is effected by my artistry in a BIG way. It brought me to the conclusion that being an artist is NOT enough. I can't depend on income from my artistry in any real way. I have one product. I have art that I don't sell. But I am not financially benefiting from anything other than mainly live performances/live teachings. I didn't cross over to the digital realm because I felt like other self employed artist had more of a right. But I am also an artist and I also had a hit to my finances in an unexpected way. I am not excluded.
Once I wrapped my head around this reality I knew I had to make some changes. Though art is my passion and expression, it can also be my business. I don't like to see my art as business because it feels like I am losing integrity by doing so, but really it is putting value on my art. The same as I look at my library career as a value added to my time this is putting value on my art. I am, in lack of a better word, an entrepreneur. I cringed at the term because I didn't think we existed in the same plane. I kept feeding myself the same lines. "I'm not a business person." "I'm not a marketing expert." "I'm not an entrepreneur." It's simply not true.
I am a career woman, an artist, AND an entrepreneur. All at the same time. Being an artist is not enough for me. I value what I create. I refuse to apologize for having multiple streams of income or demanding what I am due for my services/products. There are some people who can function for free. I can not. I can not afford to be shortchanged or looked over. This does mean that I have to also educate myself accordingly. I have to learn business and marketing. I have to learn financial strategies. Though I can't do it on my own I at least have to learn the language.
Before this I questioned if I was making enough to justify the input of my funds. I felt I was making little in return. Though it was little it had big impact that I overlooked. My budget included my little not just my other income. I know that the economic climate is shifting in a big way so we must shift with it. That is what I am doing. My word for the year is invest. So that means stocks, savings, Roth IRA, and also in my business. Do you have areas in your life that you feel have to change?
Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts. Was your money impacted by COVID-19? What strategies are you using to put you in a better financial standing?
What is slam?
Slam is a sport of words and verbs. It is something that stems from the practice of break poetry. Every year teams from all over the country and poets from all over the world compete in slam competitions.
Are You Ready?
This year has felt completely different than other slam years. Maybe it's because I took a break and was asked to re-join later. Maybe it's because the team has "hella" group pieces. Or maybe I just know that I can do other things with my time so it makes slam time more charged now. I do know I want us to win this year and I think we can.
I slam because it's a challenge for me. I started off as the poet who was cute, but... I wasn't connecting to audiences. I couldn't make the team even if I tried really hard. I wanted to do my best. I wanted to win. Through workshops and writing with others I've slowly transformed into a poet who actually can get my point across without it getting lost in translation. Now? I don't like the fact that I started becoming a poet who was "pimping pain for points". Not really, but I felt myself writing more about pain than anything else. How can I top this hurt. I know these stories must be told, but I wanted to heal. That's what I spent my time off doing. Healing.
I started writing to protest, to entice, to call to action, and to just vent. There was a time my poems were all about activism, erotica, faith, and whatever was on my heart at the time. I'm a broader writer now. Covering any and everything under the sun.
Since I've done the healing I just know slam (for me) isn't fun all the time. It hurts hearing all the things we've gone through as people. It hurts that our stories are so similar though we're all so different. It hurts. And though I cheer on my fellow poets. It gets difficult to sit in a room and be rubbed raw over and over. I often wonder if the people that NEED to hear these poems are even in the room.
The times I feel the need to slam, I'll go rock a slam. I'll still compete as a indie and support this city (St. Louis). BUUUUUUT first let's get this Nationals competition on! I ain't done yet gosh darn it. I'm ready to go. To see our team go rock those stages in Chicago.
I'll probably blog more than normal this month. Since it's my blogaversary.
Oh yea. Welcome to Slam.
2016 Slam Team
Tomorrow will finally be the book release for my book, "My Last Words... Not really"!! I'm beyond excited. I started making the book in 2015 while homeless and then finished the book February 2016 (I checked my archives here, score 1 blog) and now I am having the release almost two years later. (These things take time)
Hopefully see you tomorrow, if not you can order the book at the link below and have it delivered right to you, just click.
Leaving my stuffy cubicle for a life of artistry was a great decision. It gave me the freedom to explore my options creatively instead of doing the norm. Now I can live, work, and create on my own dime. However, I still work a 9-5 because a full time artist life is hard with no funding.
I came up with the title "Getting fired was the best" a little over a year ago. (Horrible title) But 2015 wasn't a great year. I think at the time I was actually proud of my mistake because it gave me the freedom to explore career options and gain some confidence in ways I hadn't yet. However, this statement was dripping in sarcasm, Getting fired was NOT the best. It was beyond stressful, BUT through that I learned to take those lemons and throw them out the window. (Safely of course).
We have to stop putting ourselves in jobs we hate. I'm not saying don't work, but be smarter about your choices because we do have a choice in all of this. Of course life makes us feel backed into this corner with only one real option out, but look for the gap. The way of escape and decide. Is that path better than this one? If the answer is yes then run for it. If not then stay exactly where you are and be happy with it because YOU CHOSE.
Now here are a few things I've learned career wise so far.
Interviews are just as much for you as your employer
They want to get to know you, to see how your set of skills mesh with their company, and guess what so are you. You want to know if you can see yourself in this place a year from now, five, ten, or more. Is this the right fit for you? Don't be afraid to ask them questions. Prepare a list of a few things you actually want to know. I've been there. With the whole I just want to be hired mentality willing to SETTLE for ANYTHING... Now this will sound good in practice actually doing it will be a whole other practice. This is where you have to be confident about who you are, know what your strengths are so you can sell that to your employer, and know when to walk away. Now I'm over here cringing because to me this is silly. I don't want to SELL myself to the man. To Uncle Sam. Or any big corporations out there. But I also know that in order to gain the experience I need work has to be done.
This leads to my second point...
Do Not Settle
One of the worst things you could do is settle for whatever job comes along that will have you working paycheck to paycheck, but you know you can't stand it. If you can't deal with retail. Do not take the retail job. That seems simple, but when your options are slime you have got to get resourceful. Develop the HUSTLE. Cause baby let me tell you without a hustling spirit your bags will be packed faster than you can say independence and you'll be right back in your momma's house thinking of all the ways ish has definitely hit the fan.
Speaking of hustle...
Get to Know Your Work Ethic
For me this meant learning the hard way I am not an entrepreneur, yet. The business side of life eludes me. My creative eye though, my imaginative spirit, and my drive work extremely hard. Yet I know I can't use skills I haven't developed and business is not something I've spent a lot of time grooming. I've done A LOT for my business so far, but my work ethic tells me that I've got the plan, design, hours spent in rehearsal/studio/journal BUT not a stable business plan, That's cool though cause I have a job I actually like. I've spent years doing things just to make the money. It wasn't until I lost my job, tried to do my own thing, failed to hustle, and found myself back at a desk while working on my stuff after (and during, let's get real) work hours, I do in fact have a nine to nine. As my early twenties fade into the background so does that horrible work ethic. It really takes you to sit with yourself and develop that muscle. I still have a ways to go, but I've got this!
Losing my job ultimately gave me a hard lesson. That though in your early twenties you think you know it all. You don't know anything, You're are still figuring out this adulting thing.
I've been a poet and playwright for quite a bit now. In this past three years in St. Louis I've produced my own show, authored my first collection of plays & poetry, and performed spoken word throughout the nation. People ask me how I do it. What does it entail? How do you make money doing that? Well people write everyday, but being a writer is no easy task. Being a writer is not easy. It's all up to you. What do you want to DO with your writing? Are you wanting to be a journalist? A blogger? A poet? A novelist? A script writer? A playwright? There are literally a thousand and three things you can do with writing, you just have to choose.
What will your focus be? So today I'm sitting at the computer searching freelance writing gigs to fill up some of my free time and it hits me. My writing has always lacked direction. I can literally write about anything, but what do I love to write about? What do I know like the back of my hand to make it through an entire sitting. (I have a point I promise) Theatre, art, and culture. I write stories. What should you write? Well... What are you passionate about? Go to Google trends. (Yest this is a real thing) and see what people are searching for. That way you can see what's popular, what people are looking at, and seeing what's popular that might interest you.
In fact just last night (This morning at 4AM) I started a new one featuring "a teen name Nuria Stone who lives in a cramped three bedroom apartment with her mom, dad, two brothers, and a sister in Baltimore, MD. One of her brothers, her popular twin that looks nothing like her, thinks she should get out more and drags her to her first high school house party on the rich side of town she discovers that her twin has an identical brother. (dun, dun, dun!) So the question is... Is she related to her brotherss? Why has she been painting weird images? Her family lives in the hub of drugs, gangs, and violence yet she doesn't fit in. Where does she belong? It's time for her parents to fess up cause something's not adding up."
And SCENE. So, you want advice on how to be a writer? Write. Everything else will become clear. I discovered I'm not meant to write blog content about doggies, it's not my passion. BUT I can get into writing scripts, scenes, and stories for people who need some entertainment or real life-like stories. I like writing poetry. And my novel will come. One day. Take what interest you and run with it. So... my hunt for that job to materialize continues. Till then, I'm just a woman with a creative imagination.
Jump Rope Sis
Fitness. Life. Art. Travel.