Freelancing FOR DECADES messes with your brain pan. For writers, actors, artists, musicians, singer/songwriters, comics, directors, filmmakers, cartoonists, poets, this is success: when you keep on keepin’ on. Which is a sentence which may not convince you that I’m actually a professional writer. I actually get paid to write stuff. Mostly humor. I’m hoping to get paid to write some scary stuff, too someday. So, I’m writing it. The best money I usually make at my HUMOR writing is getting behind a microphone in front of a few hundred or thousands of people, and making them laugh for about an hour. But it still all comes back to the writing. And that’s probably my favorite part, because it doesn’t require SPANX or mascara or strip searches by the TSA.
I want to encourage all y’all freelancers (yes, I talk that way) to hang in there. Don’t give up. Keep on Keepin’ On. Hang in There. (And other clichés! I’m picturing that stupid kitty poster from the 70s where the kitty is hanging onto a branch! Maybe this is why I like dogs better!!)
Mainly I say this encouragement crap because I’m saying it to myself. I know it’s true, it’s not really crap, but freelancing is such a roller coaster. Feast or famine. If you go by your paychecks, you mistakenly see yourself, alternating, from creative genius to pond scum (and not the pretty chartreuse kind.)
You may not be making untold kabillions, (which is certainly not to say that you won’t) or get paid occasionally in coupons (which I have admittedly), but working in a field you love, or doing the things you love to do, on a daily basis, is a great thing. My son reminded me of this one day when I was bitching about a little bitty famine period. (It was a HUGE famine period, but I had you there for a minute, didn’t I?) Really, creating for a living is a blessing, it’s a blessing you have chosen, though sometimes it may feel like a curse. When you are discussing why it matters for you to get an advance against royalties for your writing, or why you should get paid for doing artwork for a greeting card company, or you’re looking down the long list of outstanding submissions and emails which no one has answered, or replacing that printer cartridge once again, and thinking whuuuuuut the hell am I buying more ink for? This is RICH. THIS is optimism. This is wild, unfettered hope.
Is wild hope for creative types just eternally dangling a plastic carrot?
I don’t think so. Maybe because I have friends all over the map, some of y’all have movies on the big screen as we speak, others have won Emmys and are now writing some of my OTHER favorite shows . . . others have several animation series under their belts, and new ones in production . . . or are in the storyboarding process of their next animated feature; others are negotiating with studios on sitcoms and movies and some are writing their 50th or 70th books – which are actually being published, and not just on their home printers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) And I’m soooooo excited when I hear my buds interviewed on NPR or when I can buy a ticket to a movie they wrote on the big screen. And I think of the thousands of my creative friends (hey, Facebook) who aren’t there yet, who are still waiting and creating, or who have been there, but aren’t now. And I want to encourage us all. Because you know what? Once you get a movie or a sitcom or a cartoon or your own TV series or book tour – it doesn’t mean it’s all smooth going (has watching 30 ROCK taught you nothing, compadre?!)
The oh-so-scientific study I conducted in my head while I was writing this tells me that all these people have one thing in common: they are still writing. They kept on writing. They are writing now, and they were writing then.
Let’s keep writing and drawing and dreaming and submitting. I have a file full of rejection notices and plan to ModPodge them all on a wall someday in a gallery installation I’ll call, “Try, Try Again.” Or maybe “Try, Try, Again.”
Editor, pleeeez . . .