The time-line of a freelancer is different from the rest of the world's. I know that messes with the laws of physics, but I'm sure there's an episode of Star Trek that supports my theory. Freelancing is the ultimate "yeah, but what have you done lately?" gig. As cool and pride-provoking as some of my earlier work has been, I'm only as good as what I've done in the last year -- because I'm only as busy as my current roster of editors will allow.
Let's face it: my last two-plus years were extremely rough. I was suffering through a personal crisis and had no energy to devote to properly pitching, writing, and nurturing professional relationships. I was given several opportunities that I simply couldn't follow through on, and I blew several good assignments. Blow an assignment when you're on-staff and you get an intervention from HR. Blow an assignment as a freelancer and you're deleted from the address book. There's just too many good writers out here for anyone to be patient with me. Thanks to three or four really loyal, amazing friend-itors, who leaned on me to get things in and threw softball assignments my way, I was able to stay afloat professionally.
Try as I might to re-form those relationships, it's slow going and horribly hard. I know I'm great at this, I know I can do the work, but as good as my clips and resume are, it's still a very long and uphill climb. I'm making progress, but slowly.
Contrast this to my fellow freelancers. Apparently, they're all, effortlessly, getting generous assignments from the glossiest of magazines. In my online freelancer forums, I see their victories -- hard-won as they are! -- and just feel defeated. It's such an awful attitude, and I feel ashamed of it. But this is a blog, and what's a blog without a little embarrassing self-revelation once in a while?
My fellow freelancers fall into two categories:
• People I hate, and therefore begrudge their success.
• People I love, and still feel envious of, even as I applaud their success.
It's driving me up a frickin' wall, around the frickin' bend, and [preposition] the frickin' [noun]. Book projects! Plum assignments about my favorite TV shows! Successful networking! I tell ya, it's enough to make a gal's superior attitude feel downright hollow.
I also hear the same freelancers complaining about projects they screwed up, opportunities they didn't go for, ambitions they are afraid to have, and overloaded situations they are sure they can't handle. I know we all feel this way sometimes. I just feel like I'm the only one who really deserves to.
Except for those people I hate. They deserve to and never do -- of that, I'm sure. Which only makes me want to be like them even more. Oh, the self-loathing, so much more interesting than the deadline I must meet today!