Like the rest of the world, I’m a big Hamilton fan. It’s what I listen to when I need to get pumped, what I reference when I have something important to say and a secret code that makes me giddy with glee when someone else makes a stealthy reference. The most inspiring track is, of course, My Shot that continues like a thread throughout the story: your time will come and when it does, will you throw away your shot? Will you jump at the opportunity, no matter the cost?
There was a conversation on my twitter feed a couple of days ago about a similar thing. As freelancing comic artists, every pitch is a job interview, every job a shot to take or throw away and at times it’s difficult to tell whether we should jump at the opportunity or not. Partially this is because most artists in my experience suffer from perpetual impostor syndrome (myself included) where we simply don’t believe we have a gun, let alone a bullet in the chamber. It’s dangerously easy to talk ourselves out of applying for a paid position in an anthology and let’s not even talk about pitching work that would be published as a stand alone. It’s scary! What if they say no? (What if they say yes?)
The other side of the coin is what happens when you’ve gotten over the pitch paralysis – work is hard to get, especially when you’re starting out, so it’s tempting to say yes to everything, apply to everything. The problem with this is that sooner or later, you’re going to be accepted. And then you’ll be accepted again. And again. And then, perhaps without even realising it, you’ve said yes to more work than you’re physically capable of producing. This is bad. This can burn you the hell out and even if it doesn’t, there’s a real risk of looking sloppy, of missing deadlines and misreading specs because you simply have too much to do.
I wish I had a profound conclusion, a solution to end this post on but I don’t. I got over my pitch paralysis two years ago by making it into a New Year’s Resolution: apply to things. The first year I was accepted into two anthologies, two art books and was taken on board as a regular artist on a paywall comic site. 2016 I easily doubled that and I intend to carry on in this very same way but without a balance it’s going to be a very short run. I’ll keep you posted if I ever figure out how to play it, but for now I need to get back to work. I have deadlines looming and right now, I’m not throwing away my shot.