The best $117.90 I've ever made. - Kristen Kalp

The best $117.90 I’ve ever made.

Right around age 21, I internalized the idea that no one could make a living as a poet.

Being ever so wise and nearly 22, I quickly broadened that sentiment to mean that no one could make a living as a writer, either.

So, what’s a newly minted grad with an English Education degree who has cut off all hopes of being paid for the English portion of that degree to do?  Teach in the public school system, obviously!

Within two years of taking part in that system, I became disillusioned and said, “Oh hey, you know what I’ll do? I’ll be a photographer,” like you do.  Then I started writing to photographers about the business of photography, and then to other business owners, and I started ghostwriting some projects, too, and suddenly (over the course of a number of years) I WAS MAKING A LIVING AS A WRITER.

For seven years, that was enough. Brand Camp was lovely and vital and it kept taking interesting twists and turns and I kept making stuff and learning stuff and helping people, too. And then one day, it wasn’t big enough to hold me anymore.

Earlier this month, my first book of poetry was published.

I pre-sold a whopping 15 copies.

My royalties from those book sales total one hundred seventeen dollars and ninety cents.

Peeps, I’ve been behind the scenes for six-figure launches and even had one of my own. I have had paydays that equaled more than an entire year of my teaching salary. I have created deeper and deeper work, and I have been an agent of change in many clients’ lives, and still.

That one hundred seventeen dollars and ninety cents is the best money I’ve ever earned.

Not because I plan to be the world’s first billionaire poet. (Hell, I’ll be dead before I can use poetry to pay even one month’s rent, if we’re going by this 117 dollars every 17 years standard.)

Because my heart.

My heart is more open and alive than it’s ever been.

Brand Camp has to go because I don’t want people to visit and think that poetry is the anomaly. As in, “Oh yah, she teaches about business, and then there’s this one weird time when she released a book of poetry…?”

I can’t embrace that future, and I don’t want to keep crafting a world in which people think of me as a business owner first and a poet second.

Words are the heart of me, and teaching is intertwined in there, too, and these two entities form a wild and compelling core that I can’t try to shove into a box I’ve made any longer.

Thus, the end of Brand Camp. There’s nothing gossip-worthy. There’s no malice and there aren’t any lawsuits and there’s no drama of any kind.

I’m not even sick of talking about business or tired of working with business owners, I’m simply coming to the point where I admit that poetry and words and writing are just as interesting to me as helping my peeps come alive through entrepreneurship.

All the Selves I Used to Be is my great coming alive story, 17 years in the making, and it’s full of all the pieces of my soul that I’ve found worthy of keeping during my evolution.

I hope it helps you remember your own soul.

I hope it gives you hope.

I hope my poetry helps you feel more alive, more human, and more willing to own up to what you find most interesting in this moment.

…and may you, friend, someday know the joy of being paid at least $117.90 for bringing your dearest and most treasured work into the world.