I Hate Pitching!
The main reason that I did not actively seek out freelance work as a young writer is because it took me eighteen years to get fired as a staff writer. I had a nice non-getting-fired streak going there for a long while, but all good things must pass. But another reason I was reluctant to even test the freelance waters is because I am motivated even more by fear of rejection than most people.
I’d say that I’m unusually sensitive to criticism for a writer, but I don’t know that that’s true either. I think pretty much all writers are sensitive to criticism and take rejection personally: they’re just able to work through that intense fear of rejection because they have to.
When I got laid off by The Dissolve, I was feeling particularly hyper-sensitive emotionally and professionally, so the last thing that I wanted to do was head on out and start aggressively courting rejection by pitching relentlessly. Thankfully I was able to design a freelance career for myself that minimized the amount of pitching I’d have to do on a day-to-day basis by building my freelance career around five to nine ongoing columns providing a steady monthly income.
That worked pretty well for a while until I started progressively shedding columns. I gave up mommy-blogging, for example, which was super-non-glamorous but provided a steady five hundred dollars a month income, after being told by my editor not to even pitch ideas unless there was a very good chance that a resulting article would go viral. As much as I needed that five hundred dollars a month, the stress and pressure and strain of trying to guess what subjects and particularly headlines would resonate with a large audience of women, something I was consistently terrible at during my time as a mommy blogger, made it not worth the hassle.
Thankfully, I haven’t had to pitch aggressively, either when I was first starting out as a freelance writer or now, when my five columns (Sub-Cult and The Zeroes for Rotten Tomatoes, First and Last and Fractured Mirror for TCM Backlot) are hugely important to me, but most of my income comes from the Patreon for this site, something that allows me to devote an obsessive amount of time and work and energy into it.
I’m doing okay with Patreon and my five columns but I think if I got over my fear of rejection I could be doing a whole lot better, financially and professionally. Truth be told, there aren’t that many ideas that I can’t realize satisfactorily either through one of my outside columns or the literally thirty or forty ongoing columns I’m writing for Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place.
That said, there are exceptions. I would love to write about Juggalo Weekend in Las Vegas in the middle of February, for example. The intersection of ICP and Vegas is just too rich and ripe to pass up but even when you are recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on a subject, as I am with ICP and Juggalos, that still does not mean that it’s easy, or even possible to get green lights for Juggalo coverage so if you would like me to cover Juggalo Day in Vegas, or have other freelance work you’d like me to do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I have room in my schedule for at least another column or two and I love it when freelance outlets seek me out, since that takes the whole “rejection” thing out of the equation. So if you have an idea for an article you’d like me to write, and are interested in paying me US money, I’d love to hear it.
The other big thing I’d love to write about is “Weird Al” Yankovic’s forthcoming 2018 tour, but I think I’ve got a good line on a freelance outlet for that, but the idea is so big and involved and expensive that it might require a combination of freelance outlet/Happy Place coverage/crowd-funding and finally placement in the Weird Accordion to Al book.
At various points in my career, my skin has been thicker and thinner when it comes to rejection. It feels pretty thin right now, partially because I haven’t really pitched at all in a while, which is not good.
Rejection sucks but it’s also a fundamental aspect of being a writer, and you can’t run away from it the way I have without also feeling like you’re cheating somehow. That’s the beautiful thing and the tricky thing about Happy Place. It’s a place where I never have to worry about an editor rejecting me or turning me down; in that respect it’s too ideal to the point where it spoils me for the rest of the world, where I can assure you, dear reader, that that is most assuredly not the case.
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