Listening to the radio right now like I do. A lot. And there are a lot of shows and interviews about (but not enough, they are too busy trying to figure out WTF is up with the latest candidate-we-never-heard-of-but-he’s-got-an-ego-and-a-kabillion-dollars-so-why-shouldn’t-he-run??!!!) job-hunting, how to survive being unemployed, and I feel the pain.
But, unlike the viewpoint of a lot of those shows, it’s something I’m used to. So, maybe I should say I’m empathetic, but not really in pain. Anymore. You see, I’m a freelancer. I’ve been a freelancer for many years. Also, my hubby has been a professional in theatre for decades. And, in theatre, most of your work is year-to-year, month-to-month, or show-to-show contracts. So, we know what it’s like to put ourselves out there, work our butts off, and hope people don’t stop seeing shows and buying art/cartoons/handbags-I-make-while-watching Rocco’s Dinner Party.
My several years of attempts to get back into the “corporate” world just proved to me that even though MAYBE I could get in, staying in was another matter altogether. I mean, they TELL YOU TO DO STUFF. Like, all the time!! And, after you’ve been a stand-up comic (IS THAT WORD HYPHENATED?! I dunno), and a freelance cartoonist . . . well, let’s just say that being a professional smartass doesn’t exactly prepare you to EXCEL in a cubicle. (Read: they don’t LIKE it when you say what you really think. They just asked you that because HR told them they are supposed to look like they give a flying f— . . .) gaaaahhhh. See what I mean? Anyway, I gotta stick to jobs where brutal honesty and political incorrectness pay off. So, being a comic/writer/cartoonist/artist, or however you prefer to describe me, is PERFECT for me. I can blog in my PJs. I can sleep in my clothes and then work all day in the same thing. Saves time. I can wear no makeup. Like EVER. I can pontificate on my blog and Tweet and Facebook and other nouns-turned-verbs. Is that a gerund? I dunno THAT, either. SEE HOW HONEST I GET TO BE? See how I get to yell in type whenever I feel like it!! THAT is freedom.
But, there are tradeoffs.
The freedom it does not necessarily allow you is financial freedom.
This doesn’t mean you don’t make money. It means you never know WHEN you’re gonna make money. It is feast or famine. With a lotta famine in between. It works for me to wear my PJs as clothes and my clothes as PJs, first of all because I wear black all the time, so it works as a fashion statement, but also because I haven’t bought new clothes in a long time. But, I don’t care. I use gift money to buy art supplies. And then I make art and then I sell it. Circle of Life. Like in The Lion King! (Though, as our very little boy pointed out to us when that movie came out,
“It’s actually a Circle of Death. Because the lions eat the other animals.”) Which brings me back to the corporate world.
The thing about not having a job and being in this scary scary market? Well, first of all you need to know that every artist, writer, singer, musician, actor, performer, event planner, filmmaker, freelancer of ANY sort which you know is USED TO SCARY. We live it, we breathe it, we ride the knife edge of when will another licensing check come, and will it, and do I have the money to go after fill-in-the-blank who definitely did not pay up, and thanking God that there are still AWESOME companies and people who value artists and writers, and then back to pleez-let-them-return-my-original-artwork-intact – WAIT!! This knife has too many edges. Bad metaphor. Roller coaster better? More of an analogy than a metaphor? I’m blogging, I don’t have time to look these things up, and I have to get back to my 1920’s-Paris-Bistro-Table-turned-art-table and make some draw-rings. Man, don’t I love the dash? Or hyphen? You can look that up, too, if you feel compelled. I have a Harbrace College Handbook, but it’s gathering dust at the moment. I’m too busy downloading vampire novels on my Kindle to bother that thang at the moment.
Anyway, all this yammering is meant to ENCOURAGE you. For reelz. Because, I have put myself out there. As have many others. Many of us are hurting in this economy (and if techies and nurses are having trouble being un- or under-employed, how do you think this economy is treating comics and writers and artists? The non-famous ones, I mean), but you need to put yourself out there. And keep doing it. It ain’t easy. Matter of fact, mostly it sucks the biggest wind.
You might be surprised at this, but I’m actually an introvert. I’d rather sit and have a glass of wine with one or two friends than work a room or attend any party. I avoid crowds. (With the notable, which is why I’m noting it, exception of being on stage performing stand-up, and don’t get me started on the psychology of that one! I just enjoy. Then I go backstage and beat myself up for all my mistakes, make notes on my set list and wish I’d been skinnier because then EVERYONE woulda liked me, really liked me!) Anyway, I do love performing comedy. I hate the business of comedy.
Trouble is, the business of freelancing ANYTHING is how you get the work. I have a couple of clients right now (and I feel really really BLESSED in this way) who really like my stuff. So, it’s a volume game for the most part. If I do ENOUGH work, usually I make sales. It’s a LOTTA work, I mean. You’d be surprised how many ideas get generated, drawn, and submitted to get ONE accepted. And I’ve been in this a while, so I’m not sending in stuff they’ve seen a kabillion times. But I love it. That’s why I’m in it.
I had a whiny little text session with a friend in LA t’other day about how much I HATE the comedy business. Not the comedy, not performing it or writing it, or having tons of awesome hilarious people as friends, but the actual GETTING OF THE WORK. It sucks.
It’s gonna suck.
This reminds me of a little thingy I read in (I think, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) Syd Field’s book on screenwriting. Someone asked him in a seminar if Hollywood was really sexist and misogynist and racist and religionist and ageist . . . ‘cuz that’s what they had heard. His answer was . . .
YES. Are you IN or are you OUT?
So, that’s the attitude we have to have. Even when we owe people money. Even when we don’t know how to look nice for an interview, even when we are sick of getting new photos and spending hours resizing files and posting videos. Even when we really don’t want to hear a critique of what we do, even when it seems everyone else is getting the breaks. (They’re NOT.)
Are you in or are you out? Your decision.
I am a professional smartass.
And I’m glad my meds finally kicked in.
peace, love, and other things hippies say,
ADDED AFTER ORIGINAL POSTING: BTW, I’m not trying to give advice here. I’m just trying to encourage you. You are not alone. A lot of people feel your pain. And, really, actually know how you feel, deep down. Ignore the politics of this – the politicians who tell you they care usually don’t, or used to, but are so far away from our day-to-day, they are clueless. (When your job is trying to be popular, well, I guess it does something to you . . .) So, hang in there, in spite of them. (Okay, maybe that IS advice.)