Today we’d like to introduce you to Sundai Johnson.
Sundai, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have always been full of imagination and wonder. As a child, I was brimming with thoughts and ideas and had parents and a grandmother that encouraged my curiosity.
My earliest form of creative expression that I can remember has been writing. Despite having written through my adolescence, and teen years, it wasn’t until partway through my college career that I felt comfortable calling myself a “writer.” There are a host of factors that contributed to this, but it is a spoke of my identity that I work to confidently embrace as my life’s work takes form.
A Michigan native, I made my way to Los Angeles to begin my career in education following graduate school in the Bay Area. After two years of teaching high school English, I stepped outside of the traditional classroom to re-imagine what the role of educator can be for me and what that might look like. I also wanted to provide myself the opportunity to hold more space for my writing practice and integrate it into my livelihood.
This summer will mark my 3rd year in LA, and this is the first time in my life I haven’t known “what’s next. While this has been a terrifying reality in some sense, it has also been one of the greatest gifts. I have gained a deeper understanding of what I value and am daily discovering how to live that out in full and uncompromised authenticity.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No road is smooth, and with every bump in mine, there has been a turn and a door of opportunity. This attitude isn’t always easy to maintain in the midst of it all, but with each obstacle and outcome, this is the truth I must return to.
Growing up, my parent’s divorce, the passing of my father when I sixteen, alongside the residual effects of both of these, it all felt impossible to navigate amongst other life pressures and make it out on the other side. But I did. Now in my mid-20s, it is attempting to pay rent and take care of myself– secure sustainable income.
While also pursuing a career in a creative field, while also being mindful of my emotional and mental health and showing up for those people and relationships in my life that make my world turn. In this moment, faced with the challenges that surface in a career transition and in the maker’s stage of new work, I must remember that I was graced to overcome before and continue to move through the discomfort of uncertainty.
I am deeply in love with two paths that require a constant surrender of self: writing, to the craft, and education to those across from me. This, alongside the reality of simply living a life, means the road will have grooves that I will have no other choice but to move through. What I am certain of, even when I struggle to say it aloud, is that I will.
Please tell us about the wrtng house.
In October of 2017, I launched *the wrting house* as a marriage of my writing and education work. Through *the wrtng house*, I provide writing, editing, and tutoring services to youth and adults alike.
As I grow in my work and career, I have big dreams for the kinds of programs and opportunities *the wrtng house*, will, “house.” Ultimately, I desire for others to feel empowered to use language as a vehicle to tell their own narrative whether through services like editing or tutoring or through programs that support writing and literacy and inspire intellectual curiosity and enrichment.
What feels most special, and what I appreciate most about *the wrtng house* is a commitment to agency and empowerment through writing. It is not a place simply for endings–for finishing a project, or growing in a new writing skill–but instead, it is a place for beginnings.
My hope is for those in a relationship with *the wrtng house* to walk away with something they can institute in a new environment, and that can carry them forward in their journey. Thus far, *the wrtng house* has primarily taken form through personalized writing, editing and tutoring services with individual clients.
I have supported clients in conceptualizing and refining academic, arts and career-related content including proposals, artists and bio statements, professional materials and creative writing to name a few. In the fall of 2017, I was able to collaborate with my creative partner Lorenzo Diggins Jr. and his company Colour Bloc Creative to publish an intimate collection of poems entitled “you always lose something in the move.”
This was truly one of my most valuable moments, both personally and for *the wrtng house*, as my work and craft became a tangible reality that I had the privilege to share. I feel proud of what I have been able to accomplish with *the writing house* in just over a year, however, future installments include youth and adult writing workshops and arts and education-related community engagement.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Worried less and leaned into my reality versus so fervently pushing against it. As resilient as I can be, I am learning that not all adversity is meant to be fought because there is always something valuable to gather up in the wreckage.
Yet, this requires being still enough to look for it, or simply to see it. A good friend of mine recently encouraged me, “learn who you in the adversity of your own life, cause then you are that more prepared for all that’s to come.”
- Website: thewrtnghouse.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorenzo Diggins Jr.