Remember lining up in grade school and picking teams for dodgeball or kickball?
Brutal. Nothing quite like hoping you aren’t picked in the last half. Or worse, actually being picked last.
I was sort-of athletic, but always too tall and gangly to really excel at sports with balls that required hand-eye coordination. Speed, sure. Catching things? Yeah right. To this day I still remember the anxiety of waiting to be picked.
Many people are still waiting to be picked.
No, they’re not still lurking around a playground hoping to get on the dodgeball team. That would be…ill-advised.
What I mean, is we’re sitting around waiting for someone to deem our work worthy.
For your boss to realize you’ve earned a promotion or a killer new job. Or for a model scout to see you and realize you’re the next Kate Moss. For a publisher to see us and say “I bet you have the next great American novel in you, here’s an enormous advance”. Or you’re waiting for the algorithm to deem your content worthy of being suggested to literally everyone and going viral with a mere 2 videos like that adorable van girl Jennelle Eliana and her snake Alfredo.
I don’t bank much on miracles or lottery tickets, so you can wait to be picked or…here’s a better option, you can pick yourself.
Bootstrap your project. Ask for a raise. Shoot a bunch of cool photos with a photographer you like just because. Self publish your novel. Film and edit a documentary. Write that killer opinion piece and publish on your website.
If you want your work to exist that badly, just do it. Make it, and find a way to ship it.
Most people don’t do this because it’s way harder this way. You still have to work, you still have to earn money, your passion project might be a side hustle…all that life stuff.
I’m in the home stretch of self-publishing an indie motorcycle magazine for women. It’s called Rag, and it’s SO close to being done. I updated my LinkedIn to include the project and got all these “Congrats on the new role”.
One person said “congrats, that looks cool and must be a ton of work”. That person gets it.
It’s a TON of work. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit lying on the floor as I try to gather my wits to keep writing, keep grinding in Indesign, and keep pushing on this project.
I’ve always read magazines and adored the medium. I loved Vogue and Cereal, Harpers Bazaar and Purple, everything from traditional to art house to indie magazines. It used to be, if you wanted to be published in one of those, you had to be picked. Work your ass off, make a name for yourself, submit a bunch of times. There were gatekeepers who deemed you worthy of being printed in those magazines that you had to impress.
Instead of battling the old guard and gatekeepers of the 90s and aughts, I found a local print shop, made my own dang magazine in Indesign and we’re going to print in a matter of weeks. I picked myself. The only gatekeeper was me and my ability to keep showing up, keep working on the project, keep writing, and keep the resistance from winning.
Waiting to be picked today is excruciating. The best thing you can do is assume you’re not going to be picked, or picked last, so why are you waiting to play games with those losers when you can go and play your own game? Start your own league, kick your own balls down the field.
If the internet has done anything for us it’s freed us from gatekeepers. There’s no one in the way of you bringing your creative project to life except yourself. With that in mind, what will you make?