November surprisingly turned out to be a pretty intense month for me.
Opportunities came up and vanished just as quickly as they had arrived in their glittery awesomeness. There were new things I started and old things I ended. At the same time my family went through some sort of passive-aggressive stomach virus that left us all tired and emotional. Little wonder that the above mentioned vanishing opportunities bothered me more than they usually would.
What followed after the excitement of those opportunities was the big fat nothing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G (not the "nothing" in Michael Ende's Neverending Story but close...) No opportunities but also not even rejections to the multiple things I had sent out (competitions, inquiries, grant submissions etc.) I seriously started to wonder if my entire computer system aka window to the world had been hacked and destroyed unbeknowst to me because - come on, not even ONE interesting email?! I even checked my snail mail box more often (the gecko who lives in there did not appreciate it) in hope there was still some sort of contact to the outside professional world happening. But no.
We all know it - the roller coaster ride. And my cabin stood still. At least that's how it felt to me. It bothered me immensely.
There are probably many ways to deal with these kind of lows when you feel like all your hard work (well was it even hard enough?!) goes seemingly unnoticed and unrewarded. I am very lucky to have many good and supportive friends in the kidlit industry and so I had plenty of good conversations with them that helped me to get the "blah' feeling out of my system.
Once that feeling was gone, I actually sat down and made a plan. What are the areas I can improve (is my social media going well? or on a more "technical" level: is there anything I can improve my drawing with?)? What other things that are related to illustrating haven't I tried in more detail yet? (selling my work on Etsy or Redbubble, giving illustrating workshops, giving art classes...)
With most of these things I had already scratched at their surface before but maybe not focused enough. So part of my plan was to write down all these areas and focus on each of them in a weekly or fortnightly rhythm. One week I would put more focus on establishing a social media strategy, the following week maybe establish a children's illustrating workshop and then try to find ways to launch them publicly. I am still sticking to this plan and have never felt more productive.
I certainly do not know if any exciting opportunities will develop from all these efforts but at least I feel like I am back in the saddle again and not just lurking next to my mail box annoying the gecko. And I think this is a very good starting positing for next year. and a positive to be taken from the roller coaster ride - don't keep standing still but get active. Again and again. And again.