The vision was never to sell shirts forever.
The vision was to create a buzz for my writing.
I got this advice from Jas.
A light laugh emerges under my breath as I pen that because…
It sounds as if I knew Jas Waters personally.
I never had the pleasure of meeting the Emmy award-winning writer. But it felt like I did.
That’s how captivating it was to watch her.
That’s how good she was at telling her story on social media.
So in the Spring of 2018, when the established journalist offered limited spaces to an online class entitled – “Story Basics”, I jumped at the opportunity.
Here is the email that followed:
Story is Jas’ passion. You can express yourself, understand others, and change a mind with a good story. And this TWO-hour class will cover the basics to teach you how to turn your idea into a brilliant story. The class will begin exactly at 9 AM PST, SATURDAY, APRIL 14TH and last exactly two (2) hours. The lesson portion will be the first 45 minutes, followed by a question and answer section.
I immediately paid the $100 and secured my spot.
The remaining 3 weeks were spent framing and reframing one single question.
How do you attract readers if nobody’s watching?
You see, as a reputable writer, @jasfly already had a following without solicitation.
And she attracted more and more each day by turning her life into tiny pieces of art in which she’d put on display via her Instagram stories.
But these weren’t your typical, “Watch me smoke a hookah while I butcher rap lyrics into the camera” stories.
These were vignettes of her life beautifully intertwined with pieces of pop culture here, an artistic retreat to Paris there, and one-sentence film reviews from the comfort of her LA apartment sprinkled sporadically.
Her stories had soundtracks and frames where we’re all just staring at the sunset. No words. Just Jas and some jazz for 15 seconds.
And there were all these reoccurring characters. A rose. A dog. Michael Jordan. A shark. Always a shark.
A shark stalking its prey. A shark emerging from the water. A shark smiling. A wounded shark. A cartooned shark. A stuffed shark.. Was it a triumph? A defeat? A new opportunity?
Nobody knew what any of it meant but it was fun to assume that these carefully selected images somehow signified turning points in her life; illustrations so lucid it made words optional.
The whole account was pretty enigmatic; often with no frame of reference but somehow strung together perfectly. So many beautiful details, such little context.
It begged the question, “How do you share so much and still remain a mystery?”.
That is the way I wanted to tell stories.
The night before the class I thought about how I’d groan if Jas got sick and Stephen King himself had to take over, for as prolific as he is, I do not believe that he would’ve been able to unlock the level of illumination that Jas was about to unlock for me that day.
That morning I could tell that many were more interested in Jas’ mysterious life than the elements of storytelling.
“Where yo dog at? Should I move to LA and pursue acting? Can I send you my draft? Will you read my script“. The first 25 minutes was spent fielding questions from fans.
The remaining time was spent learning about the Lumiere Brothers who created a camera that could record, develop and project film onto what they referred to as “the big screen”. I’d never heard of them before then.
She taught us the concept of “Show Don’t Tell” – a technique writers use to allow the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author’s description.
And we played with ways we could turn a simple nursery rhyme like Humpty Dumpty into a suspense or a romantic comedy simply by adding different elements to Humpty’s story.
Then it was time for Q&As. I cleared my throat, waited for my turn, and let’er rip….
“Lately I have this weird feeling that everything I do relies on a solid social media presence. What if you don’t have that? What is your suggestion to underexposed writers who are just coming up?”
She thought about my question; looked to the heavens for a second as if that’s where the answer was and returned to the screen with confidence but also a shrug.
“You gotta create a buzz”, she said.
That was it. That was the answer. She would go on to say, “I’m lucky. I came in with one. All l had to do was be myself…” but nothing else was necessary she answered my question with honesty and experience.
She didn’t say network. Or pitch profusely. Nothing she mentioned relied on others. Creating a buzz was something I was capable of and I knew just the way to do it.
I’d make T-shirts. T-Shirts that centered on storytelling.
I’d turn cotton into my canvas and use it as a way to tell people more about myself.
Then I’d match those up with eye-catching images and use my captions to take people along on the journey.
That’s it. That was my plan. And although the idea to do so had been bubbling in me for some time, when Jaz said, “Create a buzz” it clicked.
Two years later and I’ve skyrocketed to fame. Sike. Just kidding. But I do have a much larger audience than I started out with so mission accomplished-ish.
Now the vision is to guide that audience deeper into themselves by:
- Incorporating premium, more personable products
- Publishing stories that prompt self-discovery
- Documenting authentic content and progress on a platform that won’t delete it in 24hrs
- Partnering with personal development brands
- Taking a course in psychology to help folks go so deep they emerge with their own story
So now the only question I have is, yall fuckin with the vision?