Discover more from Freelance Jungle’s Newsletter
Why would you choose a life filled with creative rejection?
Why freelancers do what we do, even though we’re so far behind the eight ball in so many ways
Watching through a numb blurriness I haven’t known since heartbreak was so young, tender, and all involved, I barely recall the bus ride home. Inflation has smashed me with brutal force.
I’d said goodbye to a beloved client not a month ago. Another said those dreaded words, “budget cuts” and “in-house”.
My wonderful therapist of a year and his delightful dog also told me they were moving on, out of private practice and into the safety of a team leader role with a mental health organisation.
All of them lovely – sad to say goodbye – and appreciative of the work we’d done together.
I thanked them, digested, smiled, promised to move on. But the beating thrum inside my chest? The heart that fuels my creativity? I heard it crack and wail and beg, “please, no f*cking more!”
Rejection is yattering hitched to the creative ride
This is the brutal reality of the world of the creative type. Rejection by a thousand cuts is the bedrock, the base. Maybe it’s what separates the dreamers from the doers? The rejection moments display the differences as stark.
Dreamers entangle and dance. We invest, enmesh. The stories we share, the vulnerability we enact, it is priceless. Until of course the economics of the relationships come a-calling and reality gives us that hard, concrete stare.
Doers come home and build a digital war room. They get to it. Inspired by the heartbreak, they are indignant at the pipelines disruption. Angered, even. Determined, resolute and onto it, most definitely.
I instead bob and weave. I pull myself up, see the pinpricks of light within the darkness. I become brave as the kettle boils before I am enveloped in the murky water of rejection once again.
It strips me with its acidic bite. Reintroducing the moment I am most unshelled.
Part of my recovery is to know never to work on a day of a major rejection. Feedback, I can greet and enjoy. Criticism can bead on the Teflon to roll the heck away.
But rejection’s waves roll up, swamp me, and threaten to drown? Nope. I’m not letting much else near my sadly soaking brain.
I don’t think I am alone in this. Even though I am traversing the wreckage of self and certainty in therapy and working towards a new normal, I am well aware of other cries. I see them between the business words, the comments, questions and complaints. I see them in the Freelance Jungle as so many of us grapple with a very simple fact:
We create art with the whole of our hearts, and then we always have to watch it eventually slip away.
Why then do we do what we do?
It’s not the money because if it were, we’d likely find another way.
Image: a hand holds the apple of creativity to tempt forth yet another rejection.
The compulsion to create
Creativity is a vulnerability powered by its own jagged, bombastic, infernal insistence. It is a need to explore your darker regions in search of something to give most of this seemingly nonsensical and random stuff some form of delicacy and meaning.
A tiny flicker of understanding, a dangled tendril of purpose, something comforting appears to light the heart and mind before scampering away.
The beauty of hitting the right creative note is so beautiful. It calls us like a siren back to rejection’s rocks. And maybe there is even a dark, jagged beauty in the pain rejection is the real art, the genesis of a bubble we can’t even see yet.
I really don’t know. I like to pretend I do, but who am I kidding? What I do know is this:
Creativity is inescapable. That’s nine tenths of its charms. It’s also utterly subjective and indefinable.
And frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Creative questions to ponder
As I sit with rejection and explore the inky bruises within, I ask:
· What is the truth between circumstance and what my head tells me?
· What sorts of ways to create can I engage in now to stop myself from trying to avoid creativity and retreat? (spoiler alert, that’s why I am writing about this to you!)
· Knowing how rejection hurts, what can I do to hold space and remain compassionate as I deliver it to others?
· What part of the kid I was learned to personalise rejection, even for good, honest and unavoidable reasons, so completely?
· How can I process this and transform it into being a better creative?
· How can I learn to fail more often so rejection in an instant hurts less?
Beyond rejection, there is hope
When we hit winter solstice and the shortest day of the year, I take time out to look at January and that summer goal setting optimism and see how it stacks up in the cold, comforting reality of winter. It might even be a good time for you to re-read or re-do the Freelance Jungle planner.
What I am enjoying
Need a podcast? Ezra Klein and Prof Sheila Liming about the loneliness epidemic and how it’s influenced by housing, family perception, social constraints, and wealth disparity in a community setting. Memphis Jones talks all about the branding g-spot with copywriter and Fem-Tech enthusiast Lanae Carmichael. Liz Fleming is offering free online workshops to help recession-proof your business. Tim King has launched The Write Shift for freelance copywriters. Martina Donkers explains the big no-no that is accepting commissions for grant writing. Vanessa Smith is using her recent experience of redundancy and job hunting with long Covid to inspire The Chronic Business Club, a safe space to explore the intersection of business and disability. Sign up via Vanessa’s newsletter and you’ll receive a link. And The Content Byte Content Summit looks to be the hottest word-nerd ticket in Sydney town this September.
It's Substack season! – check out Lorna Gordon’s take on life with ADHD, Marian Edmunds life’s twists and micro changes with The Paradigm Shuffle, explore opinions to food reviews with Fiona McNeill in Wherein We Discover, Cassy Polimeni asks have you got a minute, sunshine personified Nance Haxton invites you to uncover the Streets of Your Town, and I talk to ChatGPT about mental health and the creativity it inspires is a little interesting.
Events and stuff
If you’ve ever wanted to build community around your creativity, join me for this Patreon-exclusive on community building on July 17th. I am really looking forward to Sandy Forbes teaching the gentle art of backing yourself to the Patreon supporters on August 11th.
Love and other ways to recover from creative bruising,