Category: Community

Building a Creative Hive


Thursday, 30th July 2016

After posting to the FB hive-mind this morning about a remote job opportunity that came through my inbox, I realised: there is an untapped and potentially disconnected community of creative people, who are maybe looking for jobs, maybe looking for work, maybe looking for fulfilment, support, encouragement, collaboration.

I can’t offer solutions to everything, and the new proposal I’m developing may not work for everyone. But my suspicion is: we need a new way to stay connected, to share information, and to hoist each other up.


Since April 2015, I’ve finished my PhD, gone full-time in a remote content development job, moved countries, moved apartments, relocated a cat (no mean feat!), left the job, gone to ten auditions, performed in two musicals and one opera, taught fifteen poetry/writing workshops, submitted (countless) poems, worked with five freelance clients, and tutored six students.

And, in amongst all of this, I’ve applied for twenty-five new jobs.

Juggling all of this is above and beyond my organisational abilities. I’ve had to create new systems for myself, and one of the largest ones is keeping track of applications (poems, employment, or otherwise). When did I apply? What was the company? What was the role? When should I hope to hear back?

Rejection is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It wears down even the most resiliently optimistic of us. I’ve spent quite a few years wading through rejection: of poems, of grad programs, of jobs, of apartments — and in amongst all of this, I’ve been trying to find a way to strengthen my resolve, my resiliency, and my reserve.

Spread-sheeting all the details has turned the process into a game.

When in doubt, the gamification of difficult experiences is a great way to make rejection easier. But there’s more to resiliency than just having a good stomach for rejection.

What are we talking about?

In hunting for jobs for 8 months in Australia, I’ve become well-versed at finding leads and connections toward things that relate to a specific cross-section of interests:

Remote work. I enjoy remote work. It has been necessary for the past few years with all of my moving around. There are lots of good reasons to seek out a remote job, and the opportunities are growing.

– Editing. With lots of freelance clients, I’ve gotten good at finding work, determining fair rates, process work-flow, procedures, contracts, you name it.

– Teaching. I’m not talking about 9-5 teaching, here. I’m talking about running workshops, giving talks, presenting frameworks, developing strategies to pitch to educational institutions of all kinds.

– Writing. Day-to-day writing. Submissions. Contests. Copy-writing jobs. Freelance. Creativity. Blogging. All things words.

– Developing ideas. I wanted to make a website. I had no idea how to build it on my own. My friend Brian called me from Amsterdam and walked me through setting it up. Other friends supported me by asking me to clarify my ideas. It’s made me think: what else do I need a sounding board for? What other ideas do I have that I’d like to share and get feedback on?

– Networking. I’ve moved from Scotland, to the US, to Amsterdam, to Scotland, to Australia. We’ve needed to build and rebuild communities. Professional networks, friends, people who can take us under their wing and just give us some space, and support, and clarity.

– And more…

When I recently found two new jobs and “went off the job-hunting market” as it were, I’m still finding opportunities crossing my path. More opportunities than when I was still searching, when I still had space and time in my schedule. And more opportunities than I could possibly have taken advantage of alone.

I’m also finding connections between people. New friends I’m making, Uber drivers, people I meet on the street: almost everyone links back somehow to one or more of these areas.

This seems to be a rich space for opportunities.

Where do the opportunities come from?

I’ve had innumerable freelance and small-scale jobs throughout my life, but when I think of my most influential and growth-inducing jobs I can safely say that I’ve had four. So far.

In 2010, I was finishing my masters’ degree in Creative Writing, and I wanted to branch out into running community programs. My friend’s husband worked at Merchiston Academy in Edinburgh. He introduced me to the librarian. I ran three programs there.

In 2011, a fellow poet referred me to a remote writing tutoring gig. I kept it for almost 4 years.

In 2013, I took an online course called Grace and Gratitude hosted by Sarah Kathleen Peck. I gifted one to my friend (same friend whose husband connected me to Merchiston). In 2014, she alerted me to Sarah’s email asking for a Teaching Assistant to help her deliver a new course “Content Strategy for Thought Leaders.”

I wrote an email to SKP titled: Applying for the TA position. AKA I want to work with you. 

I closed it with complete honesty: More than anything, I am committed to supporting what you do. I believe in your talent for sharing these skills and values with the world, on a personal level.

I will keep this brief, because I know you are probably working through a lot of emails. But if you have any questions or need any more information, please, please let me know.

We worked together for a few months. Now, we’re friends; and I feel like we’re collaborating on something life-, work-, human- related on a daily basis.

In late 2014, SKP connected me to Michael Margolis and Get Storied. She was just about to finish working with them, and knew they would be looking for some style of her replacement. I did amazingly fulfilling work with them from December 2014 – November 2015.

What’s the connection between the opportunities?

I think a better way to phrase this is to look at the connections that led to the opportunities.

I’ve almost never networked with someone from a company who then proceeded to give me a job. Instead, the connections that led to the job came from a friend throwing it across my bow.

Friends who have had too many freelance clients, and wanted to share the load. I can’t take this job right now; is it something you might want to work on?

Friends who see an advertisement I didn’t: Hey, do you want to check out this job posting? It looks right up your alley.

Friends who just passively post amazing things on Facebook! Here’s a list of open writing submissions for February. (True story: that’s how I’m getting my poetry collection published. SKP again for the win.)

Friends who have worked in previous jobs in my field.

Friends who were recently on the job-hunt market, and have an overload of new leads that they don’t need.

Friends who are submitting for a contest and know it’s also something I might be interested in. Yes, people who are in direct competition with me are feeding me information they know might hopefully benefit at least one of us. I’m applying for this. You should too. Want to throw in an application together?

What am I proposing?

I’m proposing a beta-test of connecting people together. Of taking this off Facebook, and making The Creative Hive. This Slack community team is going to be a place to network, to share resources and ideas, or just a central place to find creative people we can send new opportunities to.

So, the relevant questions:

– Are you looking for remote work?

– Are you a writer, working on submissions, or a project, or freelancing, or getting a new idea off the ground?

– Are you a freelance copywriter/editor?

– Are you interested in teaching, creating workshops, giving talks, or widening your professional reach?

– Are you looking for some new reading, resources, ideas, or philosophical chats?

– Are you needing some more inspiration or like-mindedness in your life?

– Are you a grass-roots movement kind of person?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, hop on over to this Google Form and fill out your details:

Let’s get the creative minds working!

Love is Love and the Unmaking of Joy

Love is love is love is love - Lin Manuel Miranda

Love is love is love is love – Lin Manuel Miranda

Thursday, 26th June 2016

When I heard the news about the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, I cried for three days straight.

To say that this is difficult to talk about — to explain, in words, how some tragedies are beyond language — is really a pointless effort.

And yet, poetry gets to the heart of the matter. Poetry uses words, takes possession of emotion through language, and distills it down to the most essential parts. As a poet, words are my currency. As a poet, wordless emotions are my constant impossible task.

I couldn’t write anything for a while: because I didn’t know what to say. Because there really isn’t anything to say that will make it better. Because it’s hard to speak through crying, even on paper. Because I couldn’t grasp why I was so emotionally wrecked by something that happened on the other side of the world, to people I had never met, didn’t know, with whom I wasn’t connected through any relevant degrees of separation. Because I questioned why I was feeling this way at all.

Say what we will about social media: it holds power. A friend of mine shared a Buzzfeed article about how many young people were moving forward from the Orlando massacre by using the momentum and emotions to share their LGBTQ identities with their loved ones. Coming out during the shock of this tragedy, coming out of the fear, horror, and hatred — moving toward something empowering. A way to give a second life to the wonderful souls who had just lost theirs.

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and recited an amazingly impassioned sonnet during his Tony Awards acceptance speech. Leaning to the same impulse to put words to immutable, inexplicable sadness.

My wife’s the reason anything gets done.
She nudges me towards promise by degrees.
She is a perfect symphony of one.
Our son is her most beautiful reprise.

We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they’re finished songs and start to play.
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.

This show is proof that history remembers.
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.
We rise and fall, and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love last longer.

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love;
Cannot be killed or swept aside.

I sing Vanessa’s symphony; Eliza tells her story.
Now fill the world with music, love, and pride.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

I’m not LMM, and I’m not accepting any awards. But I took the opportunity to come out to my friends and family, to my wider circle of friends and acquaintances, and to share another light on the many lives we are born into.



On Orlando: The Unmaking of Joy

by Emma Sedlak

It’s virtually impossible to find the right words in the face of mass tragedies like the shooting in Orlando. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to find any words at all.

The poet Donte Collins writes: “I don’t have language. I don’t have language. I throw up my hands. I weep.”

I read Donte’s writing, where he talks about his journey: “I think of national coming out day. Of pride. I think of sweat seeping back into the body. The unmaking of joy. I think of 16-year-old Donte afraid to cross his legs.”

I think of my heart, and how it hurts right now. My heart is with anyone whose heart has been broken. Any hearts that have stopped beating. Any hearts who wish they could have.

Any beautiful humans who have left us, and any lives that have come to their untimely, impossible conclusion.

These are moments that are excruciating to share through words, but I offer up these ones because the shootings at Pulse are a tragedy that has shaken the safe spaces of belonging. These spaces are difficult for many of us to carve out, and so they should be sacred. And the hard act of carving them should be shared and celebrated.

Some of us are born into our lives already feeling like we don’t exactly fit the mould. We’re shaped into the world as we grow, and only later discover that the world often needs reshaping around us in order to feel like we fully belong. It’s not an easy process to articulate. It’s a chrysalis of un-belonging before our worlds can be remade.

Sometimes this is love. Sometimes this is a life calling. Sometimes this is part of our identity. Whatever it is, it is a skin that no longer fits, until we shed it and find that we now have wings where our scars once were.



“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

We’re born twice, and sometimes more if we’re lucky. First: coming up for air, eyes coloured by the foreign entering of light. First, we cannot hold up our heads, cannot control our mouths yet. There’s so much we cannot translate. So much effort goes into just living. The breathing, the eating, the sleeping, the interdependence.

We’re built upon villages and cities of people: the ones who feed us, the ones who raise us, the ones who keep us safe—or do none of the above, but are supposed to. We stand up as we grow, or as we raise ourselves.

Time shapes us into the humans we have always been becoming. Life forms around us in the wake of the shape we begin to make, an impression upon the world.

And then one day, we might be born again. We feel it: the pulse. The pull of something new, another foreign light, what was unknown is crossing our horizon and feels so much like home. It’s a person, a love, a new perspective, a new skin and identity. It’s what calls us, what has always been calling us. And now we have the ears to hear how the world has been speaking to us all along.

I have always been afraid I’m the only one who holds this language. Do you recognize the phrase, the handshake, or the head shake? In our second lives, we start out even lonelier than our first birth. This time, we venture out into a strange land among all the old familiars. We have to find the room in our old lives to hold space for all the new things being born. How can I be your daughter and form this new identity? How will this go, if so much of my journey depends on how graciously you can let me go?

How can I teach you my new language when I’m not fluent yet?

This second life runs the risk of making us smaller. On the precipice before we can throw a birthday party for what has woken up our lives, the impulse is to duck and hide. To take care of all our transformation in a cocoon, until we can introduce you to the finished person. Don’t look at me while I’m still being born.

We cannot hold up our heads. We cannot control our mouths yet. We don’t have the language for being in the middle of translation. So much effort goes into just living. The forming of who we are, and how the world might come to meet us, how it will reshape around us this time.

New people speak your language, and there are ways to translate it back to our old lives. The beauty is in shedding skin, and having wings—and we don’t need to be finished before we can be visible.

Life has called you. Resist the urge to turn away, feeling nervous at not having all the words yet. Don’t make yourself small, or make yourself silent. The unmaking of joy is just to make it new again, and stronger.


Originally published on The Mindful Word, June 2016


ON ORLANDO: The Unmaking of Joy