Sorry, I Don’t Go Down That Easy

So on Monday night, after declaring my triumphant final exit strategy just that morning, I settled in for another long night of hustling as I played catch-up on several projects I hadn’t had time for over the weekend while simultaneously attempting not to fall behind on the work I was supposed to complete that day…all while occasionally refreshing my inbox for updates on my car sale or news on the recent gig applications that were bound to push me over into the victory zone.

And, during one of my hopeful refreshes, an e-mail popped up from one of the blogs I regularly write for—thanking me for the recent posts I’d sent them, as they always do, and regretfully informing me they were changing their marketing strategy and canceling their blog indefinitely.

I wrote for this particular client three times a week, and they represented a good third of my current freelance income.

This is the danger of blogging for other people.  Even if you have a contract for X number of posts per month, it’s largely on an as-needed basis, and it can be ended at any time.  You hope it won’t be—you assume it won’t be if the blog is solid enough (this client was an large international institution with a well-established blog, not some fly-by-night startup)—but the brutal truth is, you just never know.

I can absorb the loss now (budget-wise) because I’ve still got the day job, but morale-wise?  It’s a blow, and a fairly nasty one.

Because now the leap I knew I could juuust about make with enough hustle and sweat is that much farther away.  Now it goes from looking “doable, albeit slightly crazy” to “put this back on the back burner; you’ve got a long way to go yet, honey.”


Your Timing Is Suspect, Sir (And I Refuse to Give in to It)

This cruel blow to my barely 12-hours-old victory reeks of the universe’s way of doing things.  It’s always been a tricksy bastard (a dear, mysterious, impishly tricksy bastard), and I’ve seen it pull many a prank before that looked foreboding but wound up being an endearing “gotcha!” story in hindsight.  Either this particular setback is one of those looks-mean-at-first, closing-a-door-but-opening-a-window deals, or this is the fates trying to tell me to slow my roll and settle back in for another long haul.

It really could be either.  I have no way of knowing at the moment.  A sensible person would wait for further instructions and clues as to how to proceed.

But I have long since ceased being a sensible person.

And I know for a fact (corroborated by a great number of dreamers and revolutionaries over the centuries) that the way things turn out after a setback is determined largely by the way you choose react to it.  (Note the important word: choose.)

I can choose to tell myself that I got too Icarus in my ambitions and move back three spaces, returning the cards I’ve collected thus far and praying to the (apparently unkind) fates for the patience to endure my current status quo for another few years without doing severe bodily harm to myself, a coworker, or a household appliance.

I can choose to say “You got me.  I didn’t really think I could pull this off.  Thanks for the reality check, old buddy!” and then slink off to cry silently and for a very long time in a corner, resenting the world for not letting me get what I want.

Or, I can choose to imagine that this is the universe’s way of testing me, of seeing just how much I really want it(Hint: I want it a lot.)  I can continue under the belief that this is still the final leg of the quest and that setbacks will happen, because the universe is a master storyteller, and every good story has those “oh crap, it’s all for naught!” moments right before the final victory.

I choose to operate under that assumption.  Because, quite frankly, it would be pretty shitty to operate under any other.  And I’m not one for living shittily.


The Fatal Flaw in the Scheme

If this was meant to cow me, it was not designed very well.

Because anyone who knows me at all knows that telling me I can’t have something I desperately, desperately want only makes me more determined to get it.

Telling me I have to wait even longer for something I’ve worked long and hard and doggedly for only makes me work longer and harder and doggedlier.

Am I disappointed?  Hell yes.  Do I still want to go have a cry in a corner and call the world a stupid poohead for being mean to me?  Yes, as any person initially would.  And I just might do that for a short while, just to get it out of my system.

But, once I’ve had my cry and brandished my name-calling abilities, I will wipe off my mascara tracks, sit back down at my computer, and keep plugging away.

Because that’s the only way that I know to make this happen, and I mean to make this happen.

It’s really that simple, when you get down to it.

Image: felixtsao / Flickr

Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.

  • My dear, I am more than happy to kick anyone who even slightly threatens your happiness in the shins. Why the shins? Because they freakin’ hurt. You just let me know. We all love you, and are so happy that you’re on YOUR path! Keep going, lady!

    • I may take you up on that offer, Rachael. I could use a hit woman to take down setbacks like this. 🙂

  • We definitely have the same sense of humor, because when I read the title of this post I thought, “yeah, that’s what she said!” Great minds, I tell ya…

    Seriously speaking though, this temporary setback (and it is temporary) definitely sucks, but it’s really the Universe’s way of saying “okay, let’s see how much you *really* want this freelancing biz to work out…” Anyone who has been paying attention to your writing already knows that you’re not a “kinda wanting it” type of gal. You’re not going to tighten up your resume and fight for a full-time senior director position at your current part-time job. Screw that. I know that you’re going to use this as motivation to show the Universe that you are going to fight for your freelancing biz harder than ever before. Just like Randy Pausch said in his Last Lecture, “the brick walls are there to stop the *other* people.” Not you.

    Sorry for the long-winded reply, but you already know my lifelong kinship with the brave souls who fight for their dreams no matter what–and you are one of those people. I’m rooting for you, your readers are rooting for you, your family is rooting for you, Dan Mondel is rooting for you, and the universe is rooting for you too.

    You got this, babe. The Universe tested the wrong chick.

    • I do love that brick wall image. It has helped me many a time, this time included.

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the Dan reference. It’s a good reminder of what really matters and how much strength we all have in us if we just search for it.

      The universe DID test the wrong chick–but she’s lucky to have friends like you to give her the pep talks she so desperately needs to remember that when she starts feeling a little less than revolutionary.

  • Cordelia’s Mom

    You’re my daughter, and we don’t cow easily. Some day you’ll look back on this little setback and realize it was THE trigger for your future success. Like when I got fired from that job on your 16th birthday – despite the tears it cost me, it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me, career wise. Just keep pluggin’ along!

    • you are so right. (see my post above) It was the scariest thing I ever did, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

    • I do believe that. The extra time this client loss gives me is just that much more time I can spend trying to find better, steadier gigs. I won’t lie and say I don’t mind the loss, but I do know that ultimately, it will be for the better.

  • Sarah Russell

    Think of this as practice. It’s scary when this kind of thing happens before you’ve made the leap and a whole crap ton scarier when you’re already out on your own. Just remember – if you got one client like that in the first place, you can absolutely go out and find another. You can do it!

    • Thanks, Sarah. I’m in dire need of encouragement at the moment, and that’s just what I need to hear. I’m ready to accept the uncertainty of freelancing, and I do recognize that means accepting it now, even before I’ve gone FT and when it feels like the universe is playing a mean little trick on me. I’ve gotten this far; I can get even farther. It’s just a matter of refusing to give up…

  • “This is a test. This is only a test…”

    And Calling It Quits seems to be ‘going around’: Jeffrey, one of my best-friend-cheerleaders is also getting out of a toxic-situation-that-use-ta-be-good, as of today; And Hawk and I talked at length last night about what kinds of shifts he can make to freshen up his situation!

    You’re in good company, in my world, my dear ~

    Bright-Writey Blessings to you!

    • Oh, I know I am–in my world, too. 🙂

  • Yes, this is only a test. Stick your plan, your knowledge of what you can accomplish if you really want it, and I know you do. Here’s my story: 25 years ago I was working for an unnamed national coffee company, and it had just been bought by the current owner. He was making all us old timer, “not my real job” types crazy, wanting us to buy into his corporate drone scheme. It was time for me to move on. I had enough to support myself for another 6 months, after which time I could get another crappy job. For about 4 years, I had made enough from the sale of my paintings to meet my expenses and maybe a couple thousand of profit each year, but I seemed stalled there. There were just not enough hours in the day to work 24 hours a week, paint, AND promote my work, but I was selling somewhat well, considering what I could produce. So, when the S#!* started hitting the fan, I quit. With another 30 hours a week to both create and do all the other stuff (by the way, this still adds up to way more than 40 hours a week, but sometimes I work in my pajamas, and my cat is with me) I started making more, better paintings, selling more and never went back to the day job. Voila! You will do it too. when you know in your gut it is time, make the leap.

    • That story is exactly what I needed to hear today. Effing’ hurrah for you for making it happen–and for letting those of still trying know that it IS possible.

      Being the Bear… 🙂

  • I will go in a different direction here.
    First, I think you should put more attention to this blog and its readers. We want you, we like you, we follow what’s going in on your life. So maybe you can think of a way of monetizing what you already have. You can write another book, and this time sell it, or make it a more advanced version of your (awesome) book. You can start some kind of coaching for people who don’t know where to start with getting out of debt, organizing, being a blogger or getting out of their day jobs.
    Second, as someone who has put a lot of effort in studying and applying lots of business theories – it’s not a good idea to rely on the income of a big client, although as your blogging skills are currently in this state – you can’t spread too thin with too many clients. But the basic stuff is this – if you don’t receive income from one client are you left with enough to feed your family? If not, it’s better to save those money, but not to make your big shifts relying on this. Especially, when you are not actually self-employed this way and it could end every second as you just said.
    Third, I don’t think this is a test. Nor, a brick wall or “wait” sign. The Universe knows that you are not that type. I think it is more of a sign to re-think your strategy, maybe there are some opportunities that you miss out on just because you have chosen just one path – in this case – freelancing.
    And, finally, yes, we all support you and we don’t want you to crack up mentally and/or physically. We want to see you as our hero who completes the journey.

    • You make some great points, Julia, and I’m glad you pointed them out to me. Creating something of my own (an ebook, etc.) is very much on my to-do list once I have more time. I want to start creating more of a “passive” stream of income that a) I can rely on during tough months, b) I will create once, and then not have to work on again in order to earn a profit, and c) can’t be suddenly pulled out from under me like client work can.

      I want very much to focus more on monetizing this blog, writing for it, and promoting it, as it is (and always has been) my baby. That’s one of the (many) things I plan on focusing on once I have the free time to do more than just the bare minimum when it comes to my writing work.

      Thanks so much for your advice and support. You really are incredibly wise and pointed out some aspects of the shift I hadn’t fully realized.

  • Debbie M

    Aw, that stinks. But although I can’t imagine how this could actually be good news in disguise, I do think that it could be a lot easier to hustle for more work when you don’t also have a day job. So I’m still backing the fight-back choice. And what if it doesn’t work out and that was the wrong choice? I sincerely doubt it could be that wrong of a choice–whatever you end up doing instead would likely be better than what you’re trying to escape now.

    • I agree. I’m taking this in stride and acknowledging that I may need to stick out the day job a tad longer, but I’m not modifying my exit strategy. It’s still final-countdown, full-steam-ahead in terms of extricating myself from my current situation once and for all. I’m being much more proactive about applying for new positions, setting aside an emergency fund, and streamlining my current tasks so I can fit in more work down the road.

      So the actual escape might take a wee bit longer than I was hoping. So be it. My efforts will not change. 🙂

  • Heck yes! I have a very similar relationship with the universe… you’ll both laugh together later when this becomes just an opportunity for you to have time for something else awesome. Totally believe in you, and whatever you choose is right, so no pressure. 🙂

    • Amen. Have you read “Notes from the Universe”? If not, check them out on my sidebar and subscribe to their daily emails. You sound like exactly the sort of lady who’d appreciate them. 🙂