Flying by the Seat of Your Pyjama Bottoms

07 Mar

One thing I find hard about freelancing is balancing

  • the things you have to do
  • the things you need to do
  • the things you want to do
  • the things you hope to do
  • the things you can’t do

With a 9 – 5 job you know what you’re doing between 9 and 5 because someone or something dictates what is required. As a freelancer you have to dictate it all yourself, you have to choose.

In an ideal world, everything would fit across the top four categories. More often than not things don’t.

Washing up fits in ‘need to do’ but sometimes ends up in another category I’ve not mentioned, ‘things you should do but other things are more important just now’. If I’m really busy I’m ashamed to admit getting dressed can go in there too but I’ve been learning that’s not sustainable. Like on Monday I had three unexpected callers. Thankfully I’d put tidying into ‘have to do’ category the day before so I was able to welcome them in without shame.

I get excited about opportunities, learning and developing new ideas. They fit in ‘hope to do’. I recently had a mentoring session with Elspeth Murray. She helped me to focus by putting all the things I do and hope to do down and we put £ signs next to things that pay. Ultimately I need to earn money. It gets difficult when things don’t pay but could lead to payment and then there are things that will never pay but I want to do them. You can’t do everything so taking a step back to look at things with Elspeth was really helpful.

Freelancing gives me more space for the ‘hope to do’ and that’s brilliant but sometimes I don’t get round to that list because the other lists are bigger and more urgent. This happened with ‘Rhyme Rocket’, a new CBeebies show looking for poets to run workshops and perform. Elspeth Murray had passed the request on to me and Peggy Hughes mentioned she’d put my name forward but I’d not been directly invited to apply by them and it wasn’t being organised by anyone I knew. I realised I’d missed the deadline but thought it might be worth sending them a quick email to see if there was any chance I could still be involved. I did that yesterday morning on a break from a podcast I’m editing.

I said a bit about my relevant experience and I had an email straight back saying if I could respond to the following brief within an hour I MIGHT be able to be considered. At that point I had a choice. One hour wasn’t long enough, I had other things to do and it’s easy to leave things if you’re not sure you can succeed. But I chose to try. You can learn even if you don’t succeed; it beats staying safe and never growing or finding what you’re capable of doing. They knew I only had an hour, so I did my best.

I needed to submit a 1 minute video of me performing a poem for 4 – 6 year olds and / or performance workshop ideas. There were themes I could choose from. Much of the brief was about captivating children and making things fun. If I could show them that in less than a minute they might be willing to consider my ideas and give me more time.

I grabbed a camera, tidied the sofa and put the camera on the coffee table. I ran a test shot, sat down, got up, played it back. My head was cut off. The camera needed to be higher. I grabbed the clothes airer and lifted it forward. It somehow managed to loop its leg through the pint mug of tea I’d put down when grabbing the camera. The tea tipped everywhere. There wasn’t time for that, I threw a tea-towel on it and carried on. Fixing the camera to the top of the clothes airer, I ran another test shot.

It was better. I was in shot but wearing pyjamas, I had messy hair and there wasn’t time to shower. Quickly, I changed my top, put some foundation on and tried to tidy my hair. There wasn’t time. I’d chosen my theme and performed my poem; I did two takes. I messed up the first one (I forgot how to count backwards!) but the second one went OK. At least if it was all one take it showed I could do it live and that was all I had time for.

My film was finished but I had to download, trim and compress it. I went through all the usual problems you get with film when you’re in a rush, it wouldn’t compress, I thought it had, I emailed it and reopened it and it wouldn’t play. Eventually I uploaded it to youtube instead and hurrah, it worked. Here is my effort:

Yes I know my hair is messy and I know they may not pick me but you know what? I loved that hour, the pressure of a deadline and doing my best with what I had. My email went in with a minute to spare. I’ll hear by the end of the week if I’m through to the next stage but even if I’m not, I’m glad I tried.

Oh and by the way, I’m wearing my pyjama bottoms in the film but you can’t see them (:


Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Film, Media, Writing


Tags: , , , ,

8 responses to “Flying by the Seat of Your Pyjama Bottoms

  1. aligeorge

    March 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Hooray for 2am blogging! This post made me laugh. I hope you get through!

  2. Marianne

    March 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I need a rest after reading that!

  3. Elspeth Murray

    March 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Fingers crossed that they can see you’re the child-friendly, compost-savvy, deadline-ready gal they need. Go Emily!

  4. Milo

    March 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    It’s not easy Emily but sounds like you’ve got a great support system. A last-ditch effort is always better than none, at least you can now relax in the knowledge you tried!

    • auntyemily

      March 9, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Thanks Milo and you’re right (:


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