Friday, April 26, 2013

Launch Day: A company is born

In some ways, launching a new company was a dream come true.

Not that I’ve dreamed for long about starting my own company. I’m a writer, not an entrepreneur. My dreams for the future have generally tended more toward writing a novel than establish an LLC.

But about six months ago, that began to change. I had just finished working with a group of fifty seniors at a retirement community to record their memoirs. They told me about their most formative experiences, and I wrote them down, and revised and edited a little, and soon we had a 200-page book, professionally bound and printed by a self-publishing press.

That was almost a year to the day after I helped another client self-publish her memoir. The earlier project focused on just one subject, a woman who told me the story of her seven decades over the course of about three months of weekly interview sessions.

It was just two books, published a year apart, and yet I knew I’d found my calling. Yes, I enjoy writing essays and articles and seeing them in the newspaper – I still occasionally wake up on the morning an article of mine is scheduled to appear in print and feel a little bit like it’s my birthday – but that side of my work life didn’t really seem to be growing, as much as just….continuing. I could always strive to write better, always be on the lookout for ever more interesting or complex article ideas….but overall, I was at something of a plateau in my journalism career.

And then a few opportunities arose to help other people tell their stories, this time in long form, as a book. I knew as soon as I started working with my first memoir client that I’d discovered not just a great job but a passion.

Still, it wouldn’t have become a company if my husband hadn’t met a couple in his networking group right around the same time who run a marketing firm. He told them about the work I was doing, and they suggested we meet to try to combine skills. Two or three meetings later, we were not only combining skills, we were brainstorming on a company name for our new enterprise.

That seems like a long time ago now, but it was in fact less than six months. Earlier this week, we celebrated our company’s birth date. With the launch of our website – beautifully constructed by a pair of talented web designers – our company became a living, breathing entity.

At least that’s how it feels to me: like a new person, a member of the family. Something that was first an idea and now a presence, ready for us to nurture it into maturity.

What happens next remains to be seen. Our goal is to find communities, families and individuals interested in having us help write their memoirs. This is only the very beginning, and I have no idea what I’ll know a year from now that I don’t know today: whether it will be much harder or much easier than I imagine, whether we’ll find opportunities quickly or whether it will happen slowly, whether every project will feel as rewarding as the one that originally gave me the idea to do this or whether each one will be a different experience.

Right now, it’s all just possibility. This early phase is the part that is still full of hope. I’m ready for the challenge and thrilled about the opportunity this presents. A dream come true, indeed, even if it’s a dream that until six months ago I didn’t even know I had.

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