Sunday, December 14, 2008

Please, Join Votre Vray Group on Facebook!

This is not a letter I ever intended to write but I’m not sure where to turn to make my vision work the way I know that it can. I’m not dying, homeless, or anything else that might spur someone to action and get them to help me. I’m just a woman who is creative and has spent a majority of my life trying to fit in where I “should” and create a life that others respect instead of living my truth. I have more education than anyone in my family’s history and still owe $19,000 worth of student loans that someday might just get paid off. I have worked in more career paths than I care to count and hated most of them because all along I wasn’t following my dream or using the skills that I know that I have, even if these jobs helped others. The bottom line is now I’m 40 years old and I can’t bare getting up in the morning without acknowledging my truth: I am creative, I like people, I cannot ever have children, and although I have parents who love me and a husband who does too, they’re all I’ve really got in this world and I don’t want to die with my soul still aching to make a real difference in lives of others. I am not powerful or wealthy enough to end world hunger or disease or make the impact that Bill and Melinda Gates can. However, I am a storyteller (even have a master’s degree in it from East TN State University) and I believe sharing my story and the stories of other creative people is what I can do in my lifetime. I aspire to be someone like Studs Terkel and Eve Ensler's brain child wrapped up in my own quirky little mind and body.

My dream is to connect creative people with each other through a network so that we’re never alone -- because many of us have been treated like second or third-class citizens because we’re not the MBAs of the Regan-era. In my quest to learn the stories of creative women, I’ve used all my savings and cashed in my small 401k to have a website built and launch my business. I’ve interviewed over 75 creative women around the US and Canada via the phone to ask them about their creative path in hopes they will become support for each other and anyone else who wants to live a similar life. I’ve posted many of their stories and advice via a blog that speaks of them and their work and also gives tips for trying to pay the bills when you’re a creative person. I’ve even created a one-woman show I call “Shout: Kiss My Art” based upon their tales and my own struggles to live my dream. The show received a small grant from the Metropolitan Arts Council of Greenville, SC, to help pay back a fraction of what I’ve put into it and I feel more optimistic that others can see the benefit of my vision and learning each others’ stories. In Summer 2009 I plan to interview 75 (or more) creative men and do the same work to reach out to the rest of the world with them.

Although Votre Vray, meaning ‘your truth’ is my business name, I am not writing this because I want you do buy anything, send money or ask others to throw money my way. I really am writing because I would love to have you as part of my network of people who believe we can all live our dreams if we all work together and support each other. If you go to Facebook and look up Votre Vray you’ll see my name and some of the casual friends I’ve made in life and in my new work. I thought if you joined us, maybe other creative people you respect might join us as well, and perhaps the ball will get rolling. Once you join, you can post links to your creative work for free, as long as you are kind, courteous, professional and do not discriminate or harass others in any form.

If you want all people (regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, body type, religion, political affiliation, etc.) to be able to live their dreams without feeling less-than or alone because they're creative and unique individuals, please join Votre Vray group. Tell everyone you know and respect about my vision and ask them to join us too. Help me leave a positive legacy and help each other by learning each others’ stories and holding on to each others' dreams.

-Melissa “Mel.” (Bentley) Edwards

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