Rollercoaster ride

You’re lucky. I nearly left it too late to submit this month’s column. I’ve never left it this late to write, but I didn’t know what to write, or honestly, I didn’t want to. I’ve had some highs, lows, self-doubt and frustrations. I’ve felt apathetic, conflicted, and distracted; and after starting the year in a positive frame of mind, I’ve not found it easy to rationalise the following. I’ve realised that:

  • I don’t want to work independently as a freelancer; I need to be surrounded by creative people, a team.
  • I’m not interested in writing Facebook ads, About Us pages or LinkedIn profiles.
  • Maybe I need to work for a company that is more me.

I know lockdown 3.0 influences how I feel and what I’m thinking, casting a cloud over my head and thoughts. I, like others, am also struggling with cabin fever.

Everything is dragging with no end date in sight, and I find myself getting frustrated with silly things, like our rented house. The freezing weather hasn’t helped: it’s exacerbated issues with the house due to its lack of decent insulation, and I want to move, NOW. We’d planned to move towards Bristol this year, renting via the Army but it’s unlikely to happen. We may buy this year instead, but we need to look for houses, although we can’t justify travelling a good two hours away with the current climate. It’s not essential travel. Is Pete going to be able to race abroad this year, can we get a dog yet?! Everything is in limbo, out of my control, and I like to be in control!

Work has started to get me down: budget restrictions, a new role with more reactive stuff thrown in, and solutions to client challenges are beginning to look the same due to a lack of digital tools. I’m stagnating professionally. My copywriting coursework has stopped, my own doing. The chatter in the Facebook community is of winning pitches to write Facebook ads, About Us pages or LinkedIn profiles – which I’m not interested in writing. Having banked on doing freelance copywriting as my new career, it didn’t sit well with me. It was a ‘throw my hands up in the air and swear’ moment.

I even avoided speaking to my best friend; I didn’t want to talk about how I felt. I just wanted to curl up in the corner, stew things over, adjust to my new thoughts and the potential impact on what they meant longer term. When I did speak to my friend, I knew I should’ve spoken to him earlier. He’s always the right person to talk to about things, and as a solo entrepreneur, he knows about the struggles of starting something up on your own.

I then remembered my career change advice; it’s all about trying things, and if it doesn’t work out, pivot, and try something else. It’s not a failure, see it as knowing what you don’t want to do and finder out sooner. I haven’t put all my eggs into one basket and jacked my full-time role in to be a fulltime copywriter: it’s ok.

On my first non-working day, now that I have my longed-for flexible working pattern approved, I spoke to a couple of headhunters to get a feel for the market and talk through my thoughts. It’s tough out there, and companies are doing more direct recruitment. Which you’d think would be a bonus, but you don’t know who or what is looking at your CV scanning for keywords or whether HR know a good communication professional when they see one. The likelihood of a CV getting through is lower than ever.

I do know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side however I’m keen to look at going back agency side, either as a Comms consultant or copywriter. It could even be a sideways step, starting as a Comms consultant and then moving into copywriting. I thrived in an agency I worked in a few years ago, and I know it’s the environment for me. There’s a real buzz to agency life. Whenever a brief came in, everyone from the design and operations team to the comms & engagement leads downed tools and met as a group to hear it. We’d throw ideas around for a couple of hours and then break off into our respective teams to further develop our pitch ideas. We’d come back together three to four hours later to share our thinking and start working on a pitch document.  The atmosphere is so different: there’s fun, creativity, a pace to things and a real sense of teamwork. It’s you and creatives brainstorming ideas and proposals, bouncing ideas off each other, and learning new techniques. Each client proposal demands a different response, so the mental and professional challenge is always there. There’s also a need to bring in business: an agency will only exist if there is client work and there’s an element of sales in agency life. It’s about making connections with companies and building relationships over time in the hope it pays off. It’s the long game; you can’t slack.

Spurred on by information shared on a call with a headhunter, I searched for a local creative agency recruiting for a comms associate. Although advertised in December, I took the plunge and emailed them with a copy of my CV. Learning to copywrite well has definitely made me better at writing emails, and I went with an imaginative, direct, and fun approach. And it worked!

I received a response a couple of hours later, saying they’d love an informal chat with me. It made my day, it really did. I had a spring in my step, and I felt more optimistic. It might never come to anything, but it’s always worth building connections. And I suppose I was essentially pitching in my email to the agency; I might be good at pitching for work after all!

How do you get a handle on things? Or do you, as in the film Frozen, ‘let it go’? Do you feel you’re on a more even mental keel if you manage to get a fraction of control back?

Claire 1 – Lack of control 0!

Walls

Walls

My room does not have

four walls:

curving and caving,

I trace hollows over the paint,

bumping over the bodies

of insects brushed clean

in Victorian Pewter gray.

I have counted seven walls

in my room:

bumping and falling,

curving and caving

with the hollows

of bugs and the hollows

of whispers and the shadow

of one person in a bed

made for two.

A little bit about the author:

Emily Uduwana (she/her) is a poet and graduate student based in Southern California. Her most recent work has appeared in issues of Stone of Madness Press, Rogue Agent Journal, and perhappened mag.

Find more from Emily:

Does this mean that I am a genius whose art will be appreciated much later?!

Trust me, in my eyes being an artist and living such a life is an art itself. To manage your time and emotions and to be ready to express yourself through art is often very personal. In fact, making a drawing, you put your heart and soul in it and you give your time and effort. Then your thoughts become visible to the audience and they start to evaluate, to criticise, to appreciate and eventually to love.Well, there are several types of people- some like to exhibit their art, others keep it to themselves until their friends find out their art and inspire the artist to exhibit his or her art. There is a third type of artists who love to do what they do but only a few people appreciate and give value to it. And the last type of artists are those who create some kind of work, but this is rather no one would really appreciate it.So the reason why I am saying all this is to explain that my artworks have been overvalued at my early childhood, later my art was appreciated and seen by my family, and today, in my consideration, the art that is done on a daily basis is situated somewhere between underappreciated and not appreciated at all.

Does this mean that I am a genius whose art will be appreciated much later?! This is hard to say, however I can tell you more about my passion and way of working…


Simple and minimalistic type of art. Usually attention is paid to every single line and when it the way I want it to be i just love it and show it. Well, there are times when a line turns more to the left instead of being straight… in those cases the disappointment is huge and some type of sadness appears inside of me. When a line is ugly there are two choices for me to make- take our the rubber, or throw away the sheet of paper and start to scratch! It varies according to the level of dissatisfaction. But, my style is such and my desire is to create simple and clean art without using rubber. I just feel like it. Furthermore, my teacher is the same type of artist- he rarely uses rubber.

So you can probably imagine how precise and careful my moves should be in order to achieve the desired lines with so much dedication and love. This is how it is done!

Art… It is interesting to do it, it is… it is hard to write about it especially when you have to go in details. As a matter of fact, I know from my teacher that too many different colors will destroy the beauty of an artwork. An artist should stick to several colors and as many shades as suitable. Imagine a warrior… ancient Greek warrior with brown eyes, short brown hair, beard, and a spear in his hands. Behind him is a horse and a lushy forest. Pine trees… Now, the less colors and the more shades of the colors you use, the better will be the final result. So my teacher told me.

Yes, depends on the perception that has to be created, the style of the artwork, more colors can be used. Pop-art for example is extremely colorful and vivid. Definitely not my type of art. However, in case that this is what a client wants to be created, well, the sky is the limit…

I know people who create a single A4 artwork for months. There are other artists who make the same size within minutes. So, what I want to tell you is this: There are rules in art, but there are no time limitations. There are professionalists who know the rules and follow them, there are also professionalists who know the rules and break them in order to make a point, to state an opinion, to express a vision. On the other hand, there are amateurs who do whatever just to get noticed. I have seen this and that and today, at the age of 29 all there is to say about my own art is: dedication, passion and love to every idea. When heart and soul are involved the result will be beautiful!

What is Textile Design?


As a Textile Designer, I have been in many situations where people don’t really understand what fabric design is. When I say that I’m a textile designer, questions like ‘what is that, exactly?’, or ‘does that mean you are a fashion designer?’, are pretty common. Many people don’t realise how versatile and broad the subject really is. So, I’m going to give a brief insight into this creatively vast field of design.

Everywhere we look there is cloth.
Look down and you will see that your body is covered in textiles. Perhaps you are also sitting in an arm chair, or leaning on a table cloth. Wherever you look there are fibres of different types, colours and textures. So, how can we know so little about it? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that this brief intro will only skim the surface.


Fabric, in fact, has shaped and defined the world we live in. We sleep in it, wear it, eat on it, sit on it, repair ourselves with it, even go to space in it. ‘Textiles’ is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as ‘cloth made by hand or machine’. This definition is simple and endless. Three areas where textiles are prevalent is in fashion, interiors and fine art. Fashion needs fabrics to clothe us; interiors have patterned walls, chair coverings and pillows; and many installations in fine art today are textile based.


From the linen wrappings of Tutankhamun’s mummy to the worms that make our luxurious silks, our constant use and reinvention of cloth offers a unique story in human history. The first principle natural fibres were cotton, silk, linen and wool. These have been crafted by humans forever for warmth and protection, status, for decoration and identity.


Only when I started to study textiles, did I realise the differences in the make up of our everyday fabrics. When you take a closer look at their threads, so much is revealed. Cloth is made mainly from the techniques of weaving, knitting or felting. The difference between them depends on the amount of threads used, or the way they are connected together. When a fabric is woven, there are multiple yarns crossing over and under each other. This technique is made with a loom, a traditional machine that can be large, wooden and loud. Of course today, the making process can be made easier with digital looms. In comparison, a knitted fabric is made from yarn being wrapped around itself. Have you ever wondered why your jumper starts to unravel before your eyes from one small hole? Felt, on the other hand, is is made from wool that is still in its fluffy, fleece like form. With a felting needle, the wool is punched multiple times until the material begins to stick together. Knitted wool can also become felted with a high heat. Perhaps that holey jumper was also washed on a high heat, only to be returned pretty stiff.


From the basic structure of these materials, colours, patterns and embellishments can be added. These include processes like printing, dyeing or stitching. The former basic fabric enters a new world of design and colour, which makes you forget the fibres could have once been a plant, or come from an animal.


In print design, for example, there are practical and digital sides. Within these are many
techniques including woodblock printing, screen printing, potato prints, dyeing, batik, digital printing, sublimation printing, laser cutting… the list goes on. Having specialised in print design, I found that more painterly and raw effects are created by hand with wood blocks, batik or screens. For centuries people have pressed repeat patterns onto fabric from wood blocks dipped in ink. This technique is famous in India, where small irregularities in colour or shape are part of the cloth. Batik is an Indonesian technique where wax is used as a resist when the cloth is dyed. The marks are made from the undyed areas. Screen printing, widely used in the UK, is a technique where a squeegee tool pulls ink through a metal gauze frame on which you place your pattern. With digital prints, the effects are endless. A process I enjoy is turning hand drawings into digital
prints through photoshop and illustrator.


The first time I walked into the dye lab at Chelsea College of Arts, it felt like a science lab. There are recipes to make dyes, along with chemicals and big dye vats filled with hot water. Specific quantities of pigment and chemicals are tested to achieve your desired colour. Of course, natural pigments too. This process of design and experimenting can be meticulous. Colours always look different from paper, to screen to fabric. Many tests are done for the perfect combinations. When it comes to pattern, you need to think about repeats – what will it look like on the finished piece, and will it work? After that, you need to make sure your fabric collection is cohesive, and not a mix of different shapes and colours. Imagine the amount of thought that has gone into every piece of fabric you are wearing right now.


Not only do textile designers make cloth for decorative purposes, but there are constant ground breaking fabrics being developed. Extreme sports fabrics, or even the automobile industry involves fabric designers. Moreover, today there is a growing concern towards using natural and sustainable fabrics, especially among young designers. Not only that, but new textiles are being made for animal leather alternatives – such as mushroom or pineapple leather. Textiles is an ever evolving subject, that works in tandem with time.


The book ‘The Golden Thread – How fabric changed history’, by Kassia St Clair, was a complete eye opener for me, and a great read if you are at all interested in cloth. One section that I found mesmerising was the inherent connection between our daily spoken word and the language of textiles. In only a few pages, Kassia St Clair describes some words we use every day, that have roots in textiles. For example, the words ‘line’, ‘lining’, ‘lingerie’ and ‘linoleum’, are all rooted in the word ‘linen’. Moreover, ‘text’ and ‘textile’ share the same ancestor – ‘textere’, which means to weave. It is so interesting to unpick these lineages. The written word and textiles are completely interwoven. Paper was even once made with rags.


From a traditionally female domestic activity, textiles have grown enormously to be intertwined with our growing culture and technology. A textile designer can be involved in every, or any single part of the fabric making process.

Take a moment to feel, observe and appreciate the design of a piece of fabric, and you will see that textiles are more important than you ever imagined.

Not being afraid to voice my opinion

  • Name: Nicolle Knapová
  • Occupation: Poet/aspiring novelist
  • University Degree: Currently finishing up my master degree in Creative writing and publishing
  • Favourite artist: Halsey/ Taylor Swift
  • Favourite colour: Baby blue
  • Favourite sound: Rain

Hi MyBest, Zine! I am Nicolle and I am a poet and a writer from the Czech Republic. Being an artist to me means not being afraid to voice my opinion. Being an artist to me means being able to share stories with people around the world. It enables me to express my feelings which is really important to me.  I love writing about topics such as mental health problems, forbidden love and New York (particularly Brooklyn). One of the biggest things that influences and inspires me the most is music. It doesn’t matter if it is Chopin or The Paper Kites. The one artist that inspires me and influences my work the most is without doubt Halsey. We are both Libras and she is someone I truly look up to. I have been listening to her ever since she released her debut album Badlands. It was love at first sight. When it comes to literature, a big influence for me is Murakami. I devoured his book Afterdark in a couple of days and left me in awe. It really left a mark on me.  I love creating playlists on Spotify. I made one for my debut novel that I want to publish in the next two years. It works as a soundtrack and every time I listen to it I can imagine the story unravel in front of me. But sometimes a really beautiful photo can inspire me just as perfectly.  I am currently hard at work writing my debut poetry collection Aftermath which I want to publish late this year. It is a very personal collection of my teen and young adult life- relationships, family, friendships, unfulfilled expectations and my mental health struggles.

I don’t really have a specific work routine! All I can tell you is that my creativity really comes to life around 10 PM when I want to sleep but my brain just doesn’t want to hear it.  I did spend the whole summer writing my dissertation- three chapters of the above mentioned novel and it was quite intense to write every day. My inspiration really does come in flares. But my writing process always involves coffee and music. I just can’t imagine doing it without it. Oh, and a candle and preferably a rainy morning.

What made me want to be an artist goes back to elementary school when I started writing little snippets of stories. I didn’t have many talents back then but writing was always something that I was praised for and therefore it stuck with me. The very first proper story that I wrote was about two cats that traveled to Egypt only for the one of them to be mistaken for Nefertiti. It was such a fun thing to do and to think I was only 10! Back then I only wrote in Czech which changed when I started high school. I tried writing in Czech but to be honest it just doesn’t sound as natural anymore. I find it insane but it is what it is! I used to be bullied and writing was to me a great way to express how I felt and it was a way to escape the reality. I love being a storyteller and I really hope I will one day be able to do this as a full-time job.

Without art, some people lose meaning

I’m an artist because I’ve always enjoyed books, movies, and art of all kinds. Some
people in my life would say writing isn’t an art but I don’t agree. I believe anything creative that involves someone creating a product or end piece is an artist whether it be a movie, book, article, painting or music. I write because I think it’s fun to do. Watching movies, playing video games, and reading books always gives me ideas. If I really like something and a book doesn’t include it, I write it into mine. I think writing is a good opportunity to put one’s own thoughts and ideas for others to read.


I started doing art at a young age, I drew silly comics of a superhero and filled tons of notebooks of the adventures. I didn’t do art as much in my beginning years of high school but seeing some of my close friends drawing and animating and doing music I began to try it too. I loved music and still do. I then started to try art classes and drawing and reading some more books.


Being an artist is a way to express oneself through different media. To me it’s writing books and stories about things I enjoy reading myself. I love fantasy video games and movies and books and that’s what I like to write about. Without writing, I feel like I wouldn’t have a good drive to continue being productive.


I’m not a professional writer but I do hope to be someday soon. On a normal day I write for a few hours on my book and my online blog. When I write, the story or topics flow out from me and I usually can write quite a lot in one sitting. I apply to writing jobs every day, to hopefully find somewhere that I can show my art and fulfill one of my dreams.


Writing brings me a lot of motivation. I hope to have a book published, seeing my own writing in a store is one of my biggest dreams. I think being an artist isn’t just about professional work, but more importantly it’s about doing something you love regardless of recognition or the expectation of money in return. Sharing something for the world is one of my favorite things about writing. Hearing feedback from others may be difficult sometimes but I think it always makes for good criticism to improve writing.

I posted a writing online and there were quite a few responses to it. Some of the feedback was negative but regardless, I learned a little more about the writing style I have and my writing flow. Even though it doesn’t feel great to see negative things about my own writing, I used that and tried to improve my writing in the future.


All in all, if you love to write or draw or whatever your art may be, I think it’s always a good idea to try it and share it with the world. Without art, some people lose meaning and need it to inspire them. One of my favorite quotes is “a professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit” by Richard Bach. I believe that quote because I think everyone can be a professional regardless of their age or years of experience. It can take just one writing piece to have someone realize they have talent. Sometimes people are overlooked for lack of experience or their age but I believe some younger people with less experience may have more talent than most others.

Being an artist to me means writing is my therapeutic outlet by Maria Baker

  • Name: Maria Baker
  • Occupation: English Tutor
  • University degree: BA Journalism
  • Favourite Artist: Lang Leav
  • Favourite Colour: Mint Green
  • Favorite Sound: Birds chirping outside my window early in the morning, the clickety-clack sound of the keyboard.

Being an artist to me means writing is my therapeutic outlet. Writing is the bedrock of good mental health for me. It works as an outlet, I spiel my woes, projecting them onto fictitious characters. I filter my experiences into stories, it’s an entanglement of reality shifting into fiction. Somehow laying out my troubles like this, takes me out of the equation and I can see more clearly. It also helps push me into the cold waters out of my comfort zone; it forced me to believe in my skills further. Something therapy does itself is exposing you to the scary world bit by bit.

I didn’t think of myself as a genuine writer right away. It wasn’t as soon my hand could form magical words, going to uni for my degree, when I worked for work experience for a leading multimedia agency, or even when my byline was published in print. It was the time I stepped into the Guildford Spectrum, like every other weekend during the autumn/winter season for a hockey game. The ice rink welcomed me swifter than my friends could with its choppy breeze to the face, and my throat was tugging me the whole time. For months, my friend said my writing was going places. I didn’t think much of a destination at the time, my writing was a timid attempt at trying to crack open a look at the bigger world, the industry was daunting, but it was something I enjoyed. But she was clawing at my potential and had bigger dreams for me, the ones I prayed for but was too afraid to see come true. The hockey game was a mess for the first period, though it needn’t have mattered, as my mind was claiming elsewhere the whole time. I thought: why would I want to change my writing into something daunting? It was the only antidote to my anxiety, and it held my hand supportively through my depression, so why would I shift the scene to make it the antagonist of the story? It was a new reality I had found myself in where anxiety was king, and my comfort was in peril. My friend swung herself around where she was seated in front of me, “let’s go,” stars painted her eyes bright as the lights overhead. How could I say no?

Michelle Obama had once said: “Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility.” If I had backed down then, my writing wouldn’t make progress, and then it wouldn’t have been therapy to me, it would have claimed to be the very device that stunted my growth. It felt like the longest lung dragging walk to the other side of the rink to meet the guy in charge of my future. He was a sweet man, but anyone that held a wisp of your dreams in their grasp marked a little intimidation.

He asked me why I wanted to do this, “it wasn’t because she pulled you into it?” thumbing my friend, he joked. I would be lying if I hadn’t said it was a dream come true if I had got to write about hockey and that I did. I was Bambi skirting on ice as I clambered to my first interview with a player well over 6ft. My hands clammy and my voice jittered as I spoke, but it was then, when I finally said it to myself: “well you did it now, you’re a bonafide journalist.” and believed it.

After this, I called my writing exposure therapy. It yanked me out of my comfort zone, struck a jabbing finger to my chest and went off about exposing my deepest thoughts and fears. Face them and bleed. It’s not necessarily the reason why I write, but the cathartic sense is a welcoming side effect.

My route towards fiction writing began with a rocky start. I was never really good with English, so it was a surprise that when I was thirteen, I had a sudden urge to write my first horror short story, and in the same winks of summer, I branched out further and wrote my first novel-length romance prose. Maybe just a little nudge to how I have become an avid horror and romance writer now. After that, I knew what I wanted to do.

When it came down to earning a living, I became an English tutor. I teach kids about the average age of eight, the wonders of writing. The majority wanted none of it. They were hesitant to tap into their imaginations, but this was the most exciting part of my job, it was to persuade them otherwise, that writing and art, in general, is freeing, it’s therapeutic, it’s an outlet for a lot of people. I remember when I said those words: “you can write just about anything.” How their sullen faces immediately lit up and to my humour, came up with the most whacky descriptions to write. Though, that’s what writing is all about. You word vomit what’s been rattling in your brain and sort out all the mess later. That’s the beauty of it, that writing is about accepting imperfections.

My days usually wrap around my writing schedule, I had just spent a full month of July doing Camp NaNoWriMo writing a draft of my novel. Other moments include writing for writing contests. I do occasionally wonder what really got me into writing fiction seriously. I believe it was when I started reading Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles when I hit gold. I wanted to romanticize words as she did. My interest in journalism piqued thanks to fashion, over the years, my interests have changed, but all the same, I wanted the same journalism outlet.

I say if a person has a passion for something, a strong one, that filters everything else out of your mind, heart and lifts your soul, don’t lose faith in yourself now, go for it.

It’s all gobbledegook to me

Since I’ve started looking at roles in the creative industry, I’ve used it as an opportunity to educate myself on what these roles are, understand the skills required, and whether it highlights a skills gap I need to address. In the Internal Communication industry in which I work, I can interpret an Internal Communication job description easily. Still, some of the creative roles I’ve seen have me interested and confused in equal measure.  Just this morning I saw a Head of Email role. Interesting.

On LinkedIn, I came across a person’s job title, which stopped me in my tracks; Chief Changemaker. What a claim, it sure carries weight and impact. But what does this person do? Make sure change happens and sticks perhaps? How about a mid-weight designer? Maybe not as ‘wow’ as Chief Changemaker, more reminds me of boxing titles like a featherweight boxer. Can you imagine a designer walking into an interview accompanied by loud music, wearing a glitzy dressing gown and followed behind by an entourage? What an encounter that would be!

The Chief Changemaker was hiring, and one of the skills required in the new role was SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, which we all know about. I did expect SEO to come with a bit more of explanation though, something along the lines of “Understanding of SEO and ability to apply it to X, Y, Z”. But no, it was merely SEO. Is this all it needs to be understood? Because I didn’t get it the first time and had to ask a fellow freelance writer what she thought the role required. Not only did the writer tell me what she thought, but she also shared the SEO service she offers clients.  I now know why it’s essential to be more well versed in it and what it means to a copywriter, so I shall be looking at Google’s free SEO courses …!

If I think about it more, perhaps job descriptions are being written in the same way we take in information. We have shorter attention spans and don’t always want or have time to read a full-length feature. Headlines should grab your attention, and good ones can pretty much tell you everything you need to know, a bit like a film trailer. It’s why The Sun headline writers earn the most. Articles and videos online now indicate how long it will take you to read or watch them. And if I think about the internal communication job descriptions I have seen in the past they waffle on an awful lot. If you don’t know the industry, they won’t make sense which is what I’m experiencing as I read creative job descriptions. Ironically, we tend to write communication job descriptions in such a way that lack any ability to raise or pique someone’s interest. If you can’t engage and inspire the very people that will be communicating messages, what hope do you have?

I wrote a reverse job ad as part of my career change course this year, so instead of a company posting a job ad, I wrote a job ad based on the company I wanted to attract. The idea was to help me understand the role or the career I wanted in terms of what was important to me. For example, I was looking for a relatively small company, where I could start work between 09:00 and 10:00. I wanted to be inspired by my boss and work with a team genuinely focused on collaborative working. To be able to finish work early to go for a run/swim/ride was encouraged because the company knew it would increase employee engagement, and I was trusted to catch up on work in my own time. If you know of a company like this, and is hiring, let me know!

My job ad used simple language that made it clear what I wanted, much like the above. I think people forget how effective, simple messaging can be. Recently my manager asked me to sense check an email from our CEO. You’ll notice that throughout my writing, I’ve used contractions; Ive rather than I have.  I prefer this style, it’s more casual, informal and I think it suits this audience, you. The CEO’s email was a mixture of both, and because I’ve heard him talk and know personal messages land better, I changed the tone.  My manager appreciated the changes I’d made but said that as a CEO, it’s better to use a formal tone. Is this a relic from our past that still pervades, the notion that a CEO can’t let their guard down and must remain somewhat above their employees? Does a formal tone hold more sway?

When people walk into work, they don’t suddenly change the way they think, read, write or hear things, and I believe people forget this. To engage people, you need to understand the audience, what makes them tick, turns them off and switches them on. Why not choose simplicity and clarity over formality and complication? Ultimately let’s not be afraid of being more human. That Head of Email? It does what it says on the tin. Maybe the creative industry has a good thing going after all. 

Why rejections are important for an artist?

I remember the first time when I sent one of my short stories to a magazine. The excitement was mixed with anxiety. What if they don’t publish my work? Does it mean that I’m a bad writer? Does it mean that I should abandon my dreams of ever publishing anything and look for something else, choose a different path? My grandma always wanted me to become a doctor so maybe that’s what I should do? After a rather long internal monologue I clicked submit. Immediately after I closed my laptop and continued watching videos on my phone.

Then the day when I received an answer to my submission finally came. I got rejected. The story didn’t quite fit the magazine, they were looking for something else entirely. I didn’t understand. I have put so much work into this piece, the thought of it not being good enough to be published was very disappointing. I kept on reading. They said they liked my story, however, even though it was a well written piece it didn’t give the reader the feel they were looking for for the issue. A part of me wanted to stop reading the email – what’s the point in reading it if it’s a simple no from the editing team? Let me tell you!

Every rejection is an opportunity to further improve your work. If a publication says they won’t include your work in their next issue there is always a reason behind it and usually they will tell you why it’s not the best fit for their publication. Rejection is not the end of the world, it’s a suggestion on how to improve and perhaps what to do next time to get that publication! It’s always fairly disappointing when our work gets rejected but hey, do you know how many times Stephen King got rejection letter before he got published? Exactly! It’s not a sign that you are bad at what you’re doing, it’s a sign you still have a room for improvement or that you simply didn’t read the submission guidelines careful enough and your work doesn’t fit the theme of the issue.

What are my tips? Easy:

  1. Always read the guidelines very carefully – they tell you what size/font to use, what genres they accept and what else you need to include in your submission.
  2. Don’t beg to be published – let your work speak for itself.
  3. Never send unfinished work or first drafts – take some time and put effort into the piece you want to get published. It does pay off.
  4. Don’t get discouraged, rejection is nothing else but an invitation to try again.
  5. Keep on trying till you succeed – I have received multiple rejection emails and then one sunny day I got an email from Vice inviting me to write for them! Whatever you do – never give up.
  6. Observe publications you like, read what they publish, see what they are all about and only then submit your work. If you don’t know a publication, how can you be sure what you send is the right material for them?
  7. Keep on creating!

I hope I helped you a bit and made you realize that rejections are only part of creation. Keep on creating! – Monyca