Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Tough Decision Rings In The New Year

©Kathleen Rietz
I had to make a decision that was really hard for me as a freelance illustrator: I had to decide to pull out of an assignment. The deadline for the picture book assignment was just too tight. I have worked day and night for the past 2 1/2 months, barely stopping to enjoy the holidays, running myself raw. My "free time" has been filled with creating new sample pieces, adding to my website, creating "give-aways", promoting myself, trying to keep the fiery momentum going. Freelance business can be oh-so volatile. I had wished for projects like this to come in June, July and August. Instead, they all came at once - during the holidays no less! And business rarely ever goes according to the schedule sent to you, especially in November and December when everyone's schedule is up for grabs. So....I realized that taking the job would have meant compromising my other current assignments, and nothing would have received 100% of my effort. By "nothing" I mean my assignments. And my students. And meetings. And the patients at the chiopractic clinic. And more importantly really, my friends, family, and myself. It is so hard to strike a balance at times, isn't it? And it is really hard to say "no" to assignments. Especially good ones - like PUBLISHED BOOKS! But I felt a sense of relief at the thought of not having this deadline hovering over me: a week to research and complete rough sketches, and then a week and a half for FINISHED, full-color art!! So yesterday I did something I have not done in at least 3 months: lie on my sofa with the dog, a wool blanket, a cup of hot cocoa and the television remote.

26 comments:

  1. Querida Kate:
    Aprender a decir "NO" es una de las cosas màs maravillosas!!!
    No te preocupes, con tu talento nunca te faltarà trabajo!
    Feliz 2008 para ti y tu familia.
    Hugs,
    Cata

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  2. I'm glad you got to relax a bit - everyone needs to recharge their batteries! I really can't imagine that the best work is done when we're ground down and overworked. I too turned down a really good PB opportunity that was way too short on time last month (must be something about end of year with publishers, does anyone really work this fast?) and it was devastating but the right choice. Sanity first, right? And here's to more good things to come in 2008!

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  3. I totally understand Kate. Sometimes is very hard to find a balance bewteen jobs and everyday life..
    Is not easy to say no to a job offer, specially one that is very appealing... but to be able to stop and think of the outcome, it is going to be good enough with such little time? Are you going to be happy with it ? Is even more difficult and not eveyone can do it.
    I'm sure it wasent easy but you were brave and did it.
    So now enjoy your much deserved time to rest and your couch!
    Don't worry I'm sure another book offer will come soon.. You'll see :o)

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  4. I totally understand Kate. Sometimes is very hard to find a balance bewteen jobs and everyday life..
    Is not easy to say no to a job offer, specially one that is very appealing... but to be able to stop and think of the outcome, it is going to be good enough with such little time? Are you going to be happy with it ? Is even more difficult and not everyone can do it.
    I'm sure it wasnt easy but you were brave and did it.
    So now enjoy your much deserved time to rest and your couch!
    Don't worry I'm sure another book offer will come soon.. You'll see :o)

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  5. I understand. This season was the first time in three years I did not sign up for hockey. It was hard but it was the right move.

    Enjoy your cocoa!

    ian

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  6. Well, I'm glad you told 'em no, cause those deadlines are just NUTS! I've been in the same boat once and obsessed over it for weeks. It's hard to find the balance, but sometimes time on the couch with the dog is more important.

    Happy New Year!

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  7. Thanks everyone! I guess we've all struggled with balance in our lives!

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  8. I congratulate you on making a stand for yourself and those who are important to you. It's a hard thing to do, especially when we are talented and driven people. I'm happy you are seeking balance - keep it up!

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  9. you are not a machine.
    health and sanity come first:)

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  10. Wow, wish I had some tough decisions to make, haha...

    Glad you are keeping busy but balanced!

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  11. Oh Kate, that's a hard one. But letting go seems one of the essential things everyone has to learn. For freelancers it's just that much harder because we can rely only on ourselves and our time. But I agree with the other commenters: health and ballance come first.
    Happy new year, by the way. I hope you started it well, and may it bring one good job after the other. Scratch your Sunshine behind the ear (the left one) for me while you're on your couch relaxing.

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  12. I love this post, you just reminded me, to try and relax a bit this year too!
    Hope you had a wonderful New Years!
    Sandra Evertson

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  13. Wow, Kate, talk about full disclosure! THANKS so much for sharing your struggle qwith us!! I can completely understand, and sometimes the most important decisions are so so tough like yours was. But you did the right thing, for yourself and also for the project. If you haven't enough to give to it, then you might not have been totally 100% beaming proud of it anyway. BUT, what you did took a lot of wisdom. There WILL be another book coming for you Kate, and when it does you will be in the right position to say YES!!!!

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  14. Thanks Kathy Weller and everyone else. I just want to take a moment to tell you all why I decided to post about this situation. I usually post to tell you all about new jobs because I am excited and love to share the good news. Likewise, there is the other side of freelancing, which many of you already know is difficult at times. In 2007, I had several book assignments which I held in my hands, which for one reason (or many reasons), did not work out. Of course, I had others that DID work out and I am happy about that. But I feel like it is only fair to blog about both sides of the coin...you know? I have my struggles like everyone else in this industry. I spent about 16 years as a freelance illustrator, designer and product developer, and I made a comfortable living. That all changed due to outsourcing and industry trends, and the last couple of years have been a big struggle. In a way, it has also been a blessing because the struggle has stretched me creatively and helped me to focus on what I always wanted to do anyway, which is illustrating children's books and teaching art. It also led me to start this art blog in October 2006, and it's been so priceless being a part of such a supportive blogging community with you all. But again, I feel like if I am going to present the good side of freelance illustrating on my blog, it is the honest thing to do to also share with you the harder side as well.

    There will be other freelance jobs, and my Picturebook '08 ad comes out this month, so I am excited to see what sorts of jobs that brings.

    Thanks for all of your comments. It's been nice to let go a little and find time to breath again!

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  15. Hey Kate, I'm glad you took some time off for yourself. I'm sure Sunshine was happy too. I consider you Wonderwoman but that schedule was just too ridiculous! Breathe woman! You deserve it. And thanks for sharing both sides of the artworld coin. It must be great to be surrounded by other artists who understand your situation completely.

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  16. Good for you Kate! Believe me, I TOTALLY know where you are coming from and just how hard it is to say NO to any type of work. But, its simply not worth it when you can't be 100% on top of your game.

    You did a very, very smart thing. Not to mention the way time spent on the couch with a furry friends as fuel the creative spirit...

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  17. Dear Kate,
    This post gives that much more creedence to to my post :) It is so hard to find the balance, but also to set boundaries which you did so well. I'm proud of you. We don't want to put out art that we're not proud of just to fill someone elses deadlines. I hope writing this has helped you on the freelance journey. I know your travels will take you far because you're doing what you love, and for all the right reasons! Lucky Sunshine and lucky you to have had that moment to share :)

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  18. I know what you mean about balance and sanity. Thank your lucky stars that you don't work at an agency that demands at least 60 hours a week. And have freelance jobs piling up all over the place. It's enough to only allow for 4 hours of sleep most days. And that includes weekends. I told my husband that the next time I would have to sit on the couch would be Christmas 2008. Seriously. Keep up the good work. You'll find a happy balance in there somewhere. And you'll see the work come along too.

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  19. It sounds like you found peace and contentment from your decision. And I bet it was a very tough one. Looking forward to seeing all of your wonderful art you have up and coming!

    Teresa
    xo

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  20. What a crazy deadline.
    I'm glad you said no.
    I had to do that a couple of months ago and it was soooo tough to let a job go by. =o(
    But it worked out for the best.

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  21. Taking care of yourself,sifting out the "stuff" that doesn't feed your spirit is a great way to start off the new year Kate!

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  22. Wow!! Sorry that you had to turn down an assignment-- on the other hand, it's wonderful to be so busy you need to do that! happy 2008!!

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  23. Hi Kathleen....

    Great read...thanks for sharing....
    Oftentimes we just keep working and working...and I really don't think people appreciate all the behind the scenes stuff we do as illustrators...we are in a constant state of flux and we feel the pressure to constantly say yes ....

    I'm glad that you're thinking about yourself and know that you have made the right decision...

    You are so talented and it is so nice when it all comes naturally...with no major deadlines and not too much stress.....

    Have a great week...

    Cheers,
    Diana

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  24. Good for you Kate! You deserve a break!! The couch and a blanket are a perfect way to recharge. Take care my friend!

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  25. Sometimes the best decision is the one that gives us time to spend on the sofa with a good book and a hot cup of comfort like cocoa or coffee. So glad you were able to contemplate and see what you really needed for yourself this time of year.

    Best wishes to you this 2008. :)

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  26. I think you did yourself a huge favour in turning down the book assignment, Kate. Thanks so much for sharing the other side of the coin....I very much appreciate it. I'm sure it would have been pure bliss to break from your busy schedule and just curl up on the couch to relax and watch TV. Well deserved ~

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