Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Tao of Comics Freelancing #1: Those Who Do Not Have, Get Even Less
I've written variations on this theme before, but probably not with such a philosophical bent. While I think the specifics of getting work as a comic book freelancer are important -- how to write the perfect pitch, etc. -- there are also broad concepts that are crucial to understand.
"Those Who Do Not Have, Get Even Less"
This is probably the cruelest of the realities of being not just a comic book freelancer, but a job-seeker in general. It's way easier to get a job when you already have a job.
That makes no damn sense, does it? Sheesh, if you have a job, you don't really need one! It's when you don't have a job and the bills aren't paid that you need a job.
That said, listen to The Tao of Comics Freelancing -- "Those Who Do Not Have, Get Even Less."
There are two factors at work here. First, those who are already employed look more "attractive" to an editor or potential boss. If you are so highly valued at one publisher, there must be something awesome about you. It's like a built-in recommendation -- but also something more than that. It's about one person wanting something (or somebody) that another person has.
The second factor is more metaphysical. You tend to attract what you already have. If you have employment, you will tend to attract more employment. If you have abundance, you will attract more abundance. And if you are desperate, potential employers will stay away from you.
It is, in my view, not even a personal thing. It's impersonal. It's the law of the universe. And I've seen it play out over and over again.
I've never got freelance comic writing work when I was really desperate and needed it to pay my bills. Ever. I only get assignments when I'm already employed. I only get assignments when I have other assignments. This has happened without fail.
And that goes for gigs beyond comic book work, as well. The sure-fire way for me to hear about old projects that were put on hold, or the status of job applications I put in months ago, is to be happily employed in another job. Once I am secure in that feeling of being employed and experiencing abundance -- all the offers come flooding in.
Conversely, my moments of desperation have apparently sent out stinky wave lines that keep editors and other employers scarce. Even when I put up a brave front. Because inside, I'm consumed with financial fears, insecurity, etc. I have nothing, and I'm attracting even less.
The $10,000 question then becomes: if I have nothing, how do I get something? How do I attract abundance when I am presently living the opposite of abundance?
Answer: I stop trying.
Sounds crazy, right?
I just take a look at how much time and money I have to coast on for several days or a week (or a month), and then work on strengthening myself. I stop being desperate. I stop contacting people in a frenzy. I stop looking at classified ads in a panic. I just focus on my strengths, get back in touch with the things I love to do, and just follow that path.
If you find yourself between jobs and have been caught up in the Panic -- take at least a few full days to get into Strengthening mode. Stop trying during this time. Get in touch with yourself.
**Note: "stop trying" doesn't equal "drinking a bunch of beers, watching daytime TV, and sleeping a lot." You ARE doing work. It's just work on yourself.
And what will happen is: leads will start coming to you. It will be really small at first. It might not even look like a job lead. Someone you knew a long time ago might contact you out of the blue about advice on some project. You might be invited to an event that will lead to a chance meeting which will eventually lead to a gig. But I promise you that if you give yourself the time to step out of Desperate Mode and fall into Strength Mode, things will start to turn around.
I write all of this from both my own repeated personal experience and by observing others.
Next time in The Tao of Comics Freelancing, I will discuss a related topic that will ensure you are never caught in Desperate Mode: "Thou Shalt Have A Backup Plan"