It’s not a big secret that I have a huge lady crush on Felicia Day. I mean, I have a huge lady crush on a lot of ladies — Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Christina Hendricks, Morena Baccarin, Jenna Mourey, Michelle Obama, Queen Rania of Jordan, and my friend Sarah are all on the “The only drink I’d need before hitting that is orange juice” list. But Felicia gets top billing.
The short version, for the troglodytes among you: Felicia Day is a writer, actress, and musician who first showed up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and co-starred with Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Not too long after that, she started her own (very successful) web series, The Guild; this eventually became a cornerstone of the YouTube channel Geek & Sundry, which Felicia — with her own lady friends — launched in April of this year.
The very VERY short version is that she’s the Queen of the Nerds. And I don’t want to say, necessarily, that we were separated at birth, because that might be a violation of my restraining order. But there are clearly similarities. SEXY ones? I leave that to you. (There are. There are sexy similarities between me and Felicia Day.)
Examples: I, too, am a translucent redhead (coughnotnaturallycough) who enjoys the dorkier things in life. I, too, carry tunes not in buckets, but in those purse-friendly tampon sizes (compact AND absorbent!). I like to be a source of comedic Schadenfreude. We both look pretty rad in elf ears.
But the thing I appreciate most about Felicia is that she’s self-possessed, diversely talented, and makes a lot of her own shit — with help from a dedicated group of very creative friends. She’s not a Hollywood Barbie doll fresh off the assembly line. She spends as much time in front of a keyboard as she does in front of a camera. And with nearly two million Twitter followers, hers is a big and important voice.
Right. So what the fuck does this have to do with copywriting, Charlotte? I hear you. Slow your roll, Sassy Sally.
This afternoon, as I was on my way to my favorite cafe to muddle my way through a growing pile of freelance, I put on the song “(I’m the One That’s) Cool” from The Guild‘s latest music video. An anthem for nerds everywhere, the lyrics crow about geekdom’s tightening hold on popular culture, and gets up in the faces of every “asshat jock who beat me up in school.” It’s liberating and it’s catchy as hell. But it also struck me as timely.
I’m coming up on one year as a freelancer. It has been exactly as tough and nerve-wracking as everyone says it is, but it has also been immensely rewarding. I’m not tied to a desk five days out of the week. I get to juggle some technical work with lighter, more creative fare (my bread and butter. My heroin and dirty needle, really). And, most importantly, I’ve had time to make shit for myself.
Nothing I’ve made is going to win any awards. My one real success — and a drop in the bucket by internet standards — is months behind me. One project I felt very strongly about never saw the light of day. And a third project that I had great hopes for, and worked very hard on, was — if I’m being honest with myself — disappointing. Okay, fine, it flopped. It looked great. It just never reached the niche I wrote it for. C’est la vie. This is how we learn.
I’ve also taken some risks with my professional life. Not unprotected-sex-with-Lindsay-Lohan risks, but risks that made me nervous in my strongest moments and had me questioning my sanity in the weak ones. This very blog constitutes a formidable risk, and while I don’t hide it outright, I try not to mention it to employers unless I’m asked directly. You know. Like a cold sore.
And yet, this blog has occasionally earned me work; as I see it, it weeds out the weaklings and leaves me with the good-natured folks worth writing for.
Subj: Want to write for us?/Interest in side work…
As you may or may not know, we have an active blog, and are always interested in our contractors being contributors.We thought about the idea of you contributing to a “series” for us.
I checked out your site and was welcomed by Ms. Spread Eagle. :-)
Caught me off guard for a second, that’s all.
You’re a great writer by the way.”
–Literally the greatest email ever written
Then there are the risks I took in pursuit of being a better creative writer. I submitted a story to Clarion West, for example, in the hopes I’d get to spend six weeks getting protips from George R.R. Martin and Chuck Palahniuk. I didn’t make the cut. Yet, in applying, I finished something of significance. I proved to myself that I can. And that’ll be good to know if I ever get around to applying for grad school. I haven’t yet decided if I hate myself that much.
I was also asked to contribute an essay to a memorial book for Anne McCaffrey — the day it’s printed will mark the day I am a real, published writer. I’m confident that my part will be complete garbage. But I wrote it anyway. It felt awesome.
In the last year I’ve had opportunities to apply for, or to take outright, jobs that made my soul curdle. Technical manuals. Pretentious social media doublethink. I didn’t take them. I probably should have. But I’d rather be broke (and believe me, I am broke) and well-slept than slightly-less-broke with both wrists draining. In fact, I’d rather dance the Gangnam Style horse dance while singing “Call Me Maybe” OH HEY I DID THAT ALREADY.
So much of being a writer is fighting tooth and claw for tiny inches of ground. And when that’s all you ever do, it feels like you never get anywhere. Turning down jobs a two-dollar whore would thumb her filthy poop-encrusted nose at leaves my brain free to ruminate or rest as necessary — and when I do have to go to bat for an idea I think is worth defending, I feel less crushed when I lose the battle. By picking my battles before they’re even fought — by passing on jobs I know are wrong for me — I spend a lot less time feeling demoralized on the whole. So who gives a fuck if some suit didn’t like my headline? I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Other jobs to do.
Finally, I think the dumbest and most rewarding thing I’ve done lately is to straight-up ask for work.
Recently, I got turned down for a job I thought I was perfectly qualified for, one I was really excited about (which was, in hindsight, my biggest and dumbest error. The universe never gives you shit you think you actually deserve, or else how would you ever get in over your head?). I woke up on a Monday morning with a “Thanks but no thanks” email sitting in my inbox, exactly as terse and unsympathetic as you dread those emails will be. After crying for a few minutes and dragging myself, mopey and bare-assed, from the bed to the downstairs couch, I decided to quit being such a goddamn pantywaist and move on to something else. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I have to earn a living somehow.
So I shot a tweet off to a guy I figured would laugh in my face. And what do you know — he replied almost right away, and a few weeks later, I had some work to do. Really, really fun work. Work that I’d probably be pissed off and jaded about after a few months or years, but work that, for now, tastes all the sweeter for my having gone after it myself. I’m like the anti-Charlie Sheen!
And all that’s to say that lately, I feel like I’m coming into my own as the cool kid. Paradoxically, I feel the most confident when the popular kids are hanging me up by my underpants — after all, nothing clears the mind like the icy burn of cotton biting into your anus. I think the Buddha said that.
I hope that someday I’ll have the kind of career Felicia Day built, something I hammered out with skill and stubbornness and my baddest badass friends, equally stupid in their unwillingness to take advice from people who supposedly know better. And then I shall be the feisty ginger leader of the nerds, but without all that talented violin playing and with much, much less sex appeal.
Shut up. It could happen.