Well here I am, stuck at home, trying to figure out what to do next in this crazy, dystopian-esque world we now live in. It only felt natural to write my story; the real one; not the contrived bio that makes your life seem perfect and simple. It certainly has been anything but perfect and simple, however my solace has always been writing. I wrote picture books as a kid, lyrics as a teen (yikes!), and eventually moved in to fiction novels in my Master’s program. Some of it was bad, and some of it was very bad. I write more conversational than grammatical, and was told that by more than one professor. My ideas were always my strong suit. I came to the conclusion that I would be better suited for a different kind of creative career. That a designer, marketer, or book publisher would be an easier route for my ideas. But when it came to starting a career, nothing came easy.
I spent the 10 years after graduation floating around in different professional arenas, but I really didn’t feel like I had accomplished anything. That was a hard pill to swallow for this over-achieving, perfectionist. There was never enough time or money to focus on the ideas in my head, and the less work I put in, the more self-conscious I became. I wasn’t going fast enough, there wasn’t enough money in it, it wasn’t a “real job” were the thoughts swirling in my head. I tried niche blogging but always felt like an impostor. I worked as a tech writer at a bank operations center. I did social media and reception work for a few small businesses. I was a server and a bartender a country clubs and golf courses. None of it really afforded me the time or motivation to pursue a career that I wanted, and I had the dead the skeletons of over a half a dozen fiction and non-fiction books littering my hard drive. I finally conceded that I was stuck. I needed a fresh start.
At that point, fate stepped in, or rather Google stalked me enough to show me an opening for an event planning position at a regional casino. I went in to the interview thinking I wasn’t really qualified, but I had a desire to learn and lots of ideas. I had worked numerous weddings and banquets before, and had planned a few fundraising events in high school, but really was just looking for an opportunity to build my resume with a creative outlet. I was tired of bouncing around and wanted a career I could really focus my energy. I had two babies, and my little people needed me to focus.
Luckily, the casino gave me a shot. I later found out it was because I told them I wrote zombie fiction novels in my spare time (thanks Nate!). But for me, events came easily and naturally. They let me design and plan everything from themed VIP parties to beer festivals and multi-headlining concerts. It put me on a good trajectory for a real career in events, and I learned so much about contracts, budgets, spacial design, timelines, and building quality networks. However, the amount of hours required per week to successfully plan and manage 150 events a year was really starting to ware me down physically and emotionally. I began to question my value in the corporate structure; that all my hard work and passion didn’t mean much in the “grand scheme” of things. Eventually, I decided to leave and take an events position at a non-profit planning events for a mid-size city. A bit boring on paper, but it has let me breathe again. It was a tough decision, one that I grieved for months after the fact, but it was the right move.
Before the Covid-19 catastrophe, I had been planning to open a new event consulting business called A Story Book Affair. My new job had given me the background to start a brick and mortar business with the resources to find a perfect location, secure financing, and have a powerful marketing outlet in my corner. My goal was to open a small studio to meet with clients and design spaces for photo shoots. It really was a dream that easily could have become a reality. And yet, I am glad it did not.
It was not because of the virus basically shutting down the whole industry, but rather because I am not sure that is who I really am. To be taken seriously in events, you have to have a way about you; a glamour that entices your client and convinces them you are the only person that could accomplish such a complex web of vendors, timelines, menus, entertainers, and guests. After 5 years in the event industry, I’m just not sure that is me. I know I could pretend to be those things. and I successfully have, but in reality, I am that little girl in pink sweat pants, with dirt under her fingernails, writing stories about a lost puppy named Gonzo. My old boss, Nate, once told me that people will gravitate toward my work if I am being myself; whatever work I am doing.
I’ve been thinking about his comment for over six months now. What is true about me? I really didn’t have a good answer, until now. The collapse of the whole entertainment/service/hospitality industry under the weight of the virus, brought me back to the thing that was always there; writing. Why am I trying to do something else, even if I am good at it? But not the cheap niche writing about fitness, make-up, and fashion that I really didn’t care about before. Writing about things that matter to me. Yes, make-up and fashion do matter to me (sometimes), but I don’t want to be forced to write about it.
That has led to the birth of A Story Book Soul. A place where I can freely write, and hopefully find some direction and peace in my work. It would be about damn time.