Saturday, April 13, 2013

When You're In Limbo (Pole Optional).

How Low Can You Go? 

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Since I started blogging almost two years ago, I've had a lot to say about rejection. I've talked about how to handle it, how to move on from it, and how to keep from giving up when you feel like you've had too darn much of it.

After I entered one of my latest, and coolest, projects into Bead Dreams for 2013, I realized that there's a whole other territory between acceptance and rejection. A sort of limbo, where you've sent your work out into the world to be judged, and all you can do is wait.

(A sneak peek of my necklace.)

And even though it's not a comfortable place, it's an important one. Creative people, from writers to performers, spend a good chunk of time here, after all. So crank up the music, grab a pole if you're inclined, and let's do some exploring!

A Cool Place To Be?

Now maybe you're thinking... no. No, limbo is not a cool place to be, Miss Sarah J. Sequins. How can you suggest such a thing? At best, waiting is boring. Because the suspense is killing you, and you want to know now, now, now. Maybe it feels like you can't move forward until you know the outcome.

And at worst? It's maddening! Because when you're in this state, your imagination can go wild. Maybe it heads right to that worst case scenario, like mine does. To put it another way, if you're standing over the box containing Shroedinger's famous cat, you start to wonder if you'll find a hungry zombie kitty when you lift the lid. 

(Or something really scary... like a game show host!!! Aaaaahhhhh!!!!)

(Sorry about that. If you have Alex Trebek nightmares tonight, I take full responsibility.)

But when you think about it, limbo is kind of a neat place to be because in a way, anything is possible. Maybe the cat is alive and purring. Maybe it had cute, fluffy kittens. Or maybe, just maybe, it's a flamingo in a cat costume, and it wants to dance for you.

So if you can, try to accept limbo for what it is. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to predict the outcome. Just enjoy the idea of endless possibilities. Think of limbo as something exciting, or even fun. Like having a table full of mysterious, unwrapped birthday presents.

If You Still Hate Limbo

Maybe you're not buying the magical, endless possibilities thing. That's OK. A few years ago, I wouldn't have, either! That's why I have another suggestion, which is making another plan.

But first, I should clarify something. When I thought I wanted to be a doctor, I had some instructors and even family members tell me that I should have a backup plan. Not even a backup plan, really -- more like a safe, practical cushion for when I inevitably failed. Plan B, where B stood for Boring.

Well, I'm not going to do that to you! When I tell you to make another plan, I don't mean that you should prepare to settle for mediocrity. What I mean is that whatever happens next isn't up to you. Once you've produced the best work you can and sent it out into the world, success or failure is completely in the hands or other people. And while people can be great, they can also be pretty unpredictable.

A is for Awesome!

So no Plan B. What I am going to do, though, is encourage you to come up with an equally awesome plan. Something that has nothing to do with giving up or settling, and everything to do with dreaming up opportunities that are just as cool as the first one. We'll call it Plan A for Awesome.

(Or Amazeballs. It's totally your choice.)

Because when you have a Plan A, you no longer feel like your whole life is on pause. You can move on to the next project -- something you need to do whether you succeed or fail -- with confidence. Because you know that the magical possibilities are still out there. And because you know that no matter what happens, you'll be able to handle it. After all, you're tough and resourceful and completely amazeballs.

When I sent my new favorite necklace into the world to be judged, I knew that if I didn't get into Bead Dreams, I'd enter it in another contest. Or I'd submit it to the gallery section of Bead and Button Magazine. And no matter what, I'd eventually sell it to a fantastic lady who loves it as much as I do.

And I felt like I could breathe. I felt like no matter what happened, I'd be OK. And when I got my rejection letter, I was sad and disappointed, and I did some heavy pouting. And yes, I consoled myself with a lot of Oreos -- I'm still feeling a little sick from that.

But my pouting wasn't as bad as the last time. The very same day, I went right back to work on my latest project. For someone who could have won an Olympic medal in pouting a few years ago? That's not too shabby.

Now it's your turn. Are you now in the limbo stage? Well, then! Here's what I want you to do:

  • Get a piece of scrap paper and write down the name of whatever you're in limbo about.
  •  Next, list the things you'll gain if you succeed. These can be obvious things like trophies and prizes. These can also be less obvious things, like acceptance from your peers and recognition for your hard work and creativity. Or just feeling like you've been noticed.
  • Now I want you to look at that list and circle the very most important thing. Seriously, if your answer is prize money, it's prize money. No judgements from me -- those beads don't buy themselves, after all.
  • And now I want you to think of -- and write down -- three other things that might get you this most important thing. Entering another contest, submitting to another magazine, applying to another gallery, being featured on another blog. Selling your work to the right person. 
  • Or maybe you'll bypass the gatekeepers completely, in which case it's time to get creative and really have fun! Publish your own story in an anthology you put together, turn your painting into a fabric on Spoonflower and make sheets out of it, create your own online magazine, get together with your artist friends and find a place to do your own exhibit/fashion show/concert/whatever. It's amazing what you can come up with when you put that overactive imagination to good use!
  •  And then I want you to notice how you feel. Better? Worse? Pretty much the same? And if you feel like sharing this with me, I'll be thrilled to hear from you, even if you're telling me I'm completely crazy. Because then I can start thinking of another way to help you.

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and have a sequintastic day! <3

(And if you're looking for my post on Blogcademy, it's here.)


  1. Ok, now I *know* you're going to think I'm crazy, but...

    I love being in limbo.

    At least when it comes to my other parts of life, not so much...and here's why I love it. I've done all I can, I've said my prayers, I've sent off my piece or my photo or request, and now I have permission to sit back for a short while and daydream about what I should work on next!

    1. Actually, I think that's awesome!

      I love the idea of daydreaming and of freedom to think about the next project. I guess limbo can be a time of letting go, too. :)

  2. We always seem to be on the same wavelength!

    I'm in the process of putting together the finishing touches on my first artist grant proposal. It would allow me to tackle my largest beaded project yet. But even as I'm getting ready to send it off, I'm working on alternate plans to make sure this project does indeed happen.

    1. That's because great minds think alike. ;)

      A grant proposal! That sounds awesome, and I'm excited about your biggest beading project ever. If you need any help brainstorming alternate plans, let me know!

  3. I have to immediately start on another project while waiting in limbo. That way when the judgment comes about the first project, I have already moved on to something that excites me even more.

    Your ideas about alternate plans is a good way think about goals, too. "I'm going to get my work published in X magazine" isn't a good goal--you have no control over whether you can achieve that. A better goal would be to submit your best, most irresistible work.

  4. Aren't we always in limbo in one part of our lives or another? I think the magic lies in using the security of the stable parts to hold you up in the more, um, flexible parts. And to let you know how wacked out my brain is right now (from some limbo in my own life), when I read the "pole optional" part of your post title, I wondered why you might be writing about stripper poles...then again, maybe that flamingo in its cat costume is doing a pole dance! See? I completely knocked that Alex Trebek nightmare out of your head and replaced it with something truly absurd!

  5. I've been thinking about this post all week, seeing as how I am currently a resident of limbo-land. Not a happy resident, mind you.

    But, today, I close a door on something that has been a big part of my life - and my heart - for many years. Feeling kind of numb about it, which for me, is the epitome of limbo. time to go searching for flamingos... (cause I have too many cats and there ain't no way they get to play with a pole!)

  6. I'm like Michelle. I never enter limbo without another project on my docket. That way if something in limbo doesn't work out, I have this other shiny thing waiting in the wings.

    Also, I figure that if an agent or publisher doesn't want Story A, maybe another agent or publisher will. Or maybe they'll want Story B. Or Story C. Just keep throwing that spaghetti until *something* sticks.

    And in the end, writing is the reason I write, not publishing. Successful publishing would just let me write more, but I can already write plenty.


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