Lately, I’ve been playing email roulette. Permanently open in a browser tab, I reflexively spin the inbox of chance and hope that it lands on my number.
For better or worse, my day can turn on a dime based on one single email. The rejected pitch for an idea I’m desperate to write; the decision to go in another direction on a project; the cancelling of a contract. But then there’s also the commission out of the blue; the invitation to host a podcast series; the green light on funding for a project.
Faceless arbiters at the other end of digital missives, deciding what passes and what doesn’t. There’s a furious adrenaline rush each time I peek in my inbox – I hate that my mood is so affected by what I find in there and yet I can’t stop myself from constantly checking either.
I know how unhealthy this behaviour is and I’ve worked hard over the last four years to make sure that the bulk of my work isn’t solely dependent on the whims of gatekeepers. (Hello, this newsletter). But there are still some projects that just can’t be done without a yes from someone else. Like the big one I’m working on at the moment, the Freelance Writing Awards. (Fellow freelancer and newsletter writer Sian Meades-Williams and I are launching the first-ever media awards for freelancers in the UK.)
It’s a big, ambitious project, that’s as challenging as it is exciting. We need a lot of yeses to make it happen – from sponsors to help us fund it, to judges who can contribute their time to it. And so, I sit and refresh.
The yeses have been truly thrilling, while some of the nos, utterly devastating. I’ve been in the freelancing game long enough to know that sometimes, the gatekeepers are just wrong. But it’s really hard to believe that when you’re up against them by yourself. What’s kept me sane throughout this whole project is that, for once, I’m not sitting at the wheel alone.
Working with friends has transformed my career. When one of us melts down, the other one scoops them up. Old friendships have taken on a new dimension, while I’ve made new pals through collaboration. There’s no performative working or fudging the progress reports, there’s just honesty and support. We put friendship first and yet somehow, the work is all the better for it.
So today’s newsletter is a dedication to all the people that I work with, who sit next to me, betting on things working out. Regardless of where the chips fall, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.