Monthly Archives: May 2013

Leafs’ Loss – Are You Kidding Me?!

Andrea Freedman

When you become wrapped up in a sport, often too much hope, not to mention time, is poured into it. With another hockey season, one that was actually filled with promise, behind the Toronto Maple Leafs once again, and after their devastating loss to the Boston Bruins in game seven of round one of the playoffs, I find myself unable to stop shaking my head.

I did say that all I wanted was for the Leafs to make it into the playoffs this year. Finally, after nine frustrating seasons of disappointment, faithfully watching every game in the hopes that it would continue on into the late spring and early summer, the fans were finally given a break and, after an incredible comeback, a glimmer of hope that our beloved Leafs might somehow make it to the semi-finals.

Only one night before in game six, fans prepared themselves for the end of their hockey team’s season; but the Leafs surprised us and won, giving us hope for just one more night. I woke up thinking about it the next morning and was in a good mood all day.

That night every fan, whether watching at home or in Maple Leaf Square felt their adrenaline pumping as the clock ticked slowly in the third period of the game. I could feel and hear my heart beating. Could it be, finally, after all these years?

Loyal Toronto fans were on the edge of their seats or jumping up and down, many of us already eagerly anticipating watching the Leafs play in the beginning of the next round of the playoffs.

Alas, it was not to be. The hopes of fans around the city were shattered when things took a drastic turn and the Leafs, as well as their many, many supporters, were robbed of our collective dream yet again.

Rather than take their impending win and resulting advancement to the semi-finals, the Leafs became over-confident and focused too much on running down the clock in the second half of the third period, when they should have tried harder to score an empty-netted goal when they had the chance, almost ensuring them a win.

I felt like I was going to be sick. How could they have let this happen when victory was so closely within their grasp? How could they do this to us, especially with only minutes to go before they would have – and let’s face it, should have – won the game?

If the Leafs would have lost the game fair and square – although I cannot say I would have been that much happier than I was after this game seven – that would have been one thing; but to watch the Leafs lose control of a game that they had dominated at least in goals for the entire game up until that point, was something that no fan will soon forget.

When I woke up the next morning it was the first thing I thought of yet again. This time, I was not surprised that I was in a bad mood all day after that tragic loss, wishing that the clock could be turned back.

When I saw the look on Phil Kessel’s face when he was interviewed after the game I could feel his nausea, along with my own of course. Still, as much sympathy as I felt for him, I could not help but be a little angry and I dare say disgusted with him and the rest of the team at the same time.

I think some of us kept a low profile the day after the shocking loss to the Bruins, not wanting to even talk about it. After all, what was there to say?

After this monumental disappointment, will the fans go back for more next season? Of course we will. As much as some of us may protest to the contrary now, when the wound is still fresh, when the puck drops next fall who among Leaf fans will not find themselves hunkering down patiently yet again, just to see if our team makes it into the playoffs and if they do, if they could go out being remembered for something other than giving up an almost clear victory.

It just goes to show that nothing can be gained by being cocky even if it does appear that the team we have stood by all these years finally, after many frustrating losses in the past, has it in the bag. When it really matters most, every second counts and nothing can be left to chance.

I knew going into this year’s shortened hockey season, as I do every year, that anything can happen and there are no guarantees, certainly when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It will take a while to get over the game that began as a dream but turned into a catastrophe; nevertheless, I have a feeling that the memory of the Leafs’ heartbreaking loss, and the regret of what might have been, although most likely not forgotten, will sting a little less just in time for Toronto Maple Leafs fans to torture ourselves all over again next season.♦

Copyright © Andrea Freedman 2013

The Library – My New Book Store

Andrea Freedman

After leaving my job and regular pay cheque to focus more seriously on my writing career, I also began to think more seriously about ways to save money. I became reluctant to buy things I had not thought twice about in the past, such as books. However, not about to forfeit my avid reading hobby, I decided to give my local library a try.

It did not take long to realize the error I had committed in so callously overlooking the library. The serene atmosphere had been wasted on me, until I got over myself and decided that rather than purchasing more books that would only take up space once I had read them, my love for reading could still be satisfied, for free and without collecting more dust.

I can browse the library almost as if I were in a book store – a real book store that is, without endless giftware items to distract from the books. Just spending time there, before I have even chosen a book, leaves me feeling calm. Everyone there is browsing, working on the computer, or reading quietly, civilly sharing a common space without ever actually interacting with one another.

I had to get used to the library at first, leaving empty-handed after my first few visits. I had been hoping to find a soft-cover book, as hard-covers are so heavy. I finally accepted the fact that I would just have to start reading hard-cover, plastic-wrapped books as those are the most commonly offered in the library. After all, since I am not actually going to work, I don’t always have to necessarily take my book with me on the subway so the extra weight is only a slight inconvenience.

I have also come to appreciate the protective plastic cover that is found on many library books. When my hands are sweaty, which they often are, the plastic is actually a welcome benefit, ensuring that I will not unnecessarily damage the book. I even find the crackling sound it makes when I open the book comforting and I feel a sense of camaraderie when I spot other people reading in a public place and immediately recognize if they are reading a library book.

It is interesting to see the things that people who borrowed the book before I did leave behind. I have found bus transfers, personal notes and grocery lists inside books. I wonder if the person who left it there remembered after they had returned the book, and whether or not he or she thought about going back to the library in the hopes of finding the book there with whatever piece of paper was left behind still intact.

Everything went along nicely for a while once I had gotten the hang of things at the library and was on to my third or fourth book until, to my shock, I saw a small hair in between two pages. I blew it away carefully without letting it touch me, convincing myself that the worst thing it could be was an eyelash, albeit someone else’s eyelash.

The smile faded from my lips as I realized, dismayed, that to make matters worse, the book I had been enjoying was marred with what looked like pieces of food. I was not about to attempt to get rid of it; after all, someone else may have licked their fingers before touching that food and smearing it on the book, leaving not only the food residue, but germs in their wake as well.

I must admit that there have been occasions when I have felt put off when I have come across stains on the pages, indicating spilled coffee or some other food-related accident. Sometimes, if a book looks pristine from the outside, and if it is a fairly new release, I don’t always think to check before I sign it out, only to be reminded of my mistake once I leave the library.

A thought occurred to me. What if, when I return the book to the library, they think it is I who has defaced it? I wondered if I should point it out, or if that would be against library etiquette. Would the library staff appreciate being made aware of it?

When I realized one day that the bottle of water that had been in my bag, which also contained my library book, had leaked and had left a ring of moisture on the edges of several of the pages of my current library book, at first I was horrified. However, after my initial upset, I was kind of happy about it. It may not be much, and very difficult to detect, but now, I too had made my mark on this book. And no, I was not about to bring it to the librarians’ attention.

I may now be slightly cautious before reading a library book in bed, and will have to be especially careful not to let any offending residue fall out and make its way onto my furniture or my person for that matter; nevertheless, becoming a regular patron of the library has taught me that while every book tells a story, a library book, passed on from one reader to the next, might just tell another story all its own.♦

Copyright © Andrea Freedman

When to Walk Away From an Editor

Andrea Freedman

I never thought I would say this but I have learned that there are actually times when a writer needs to take a step back and consider walking away from an editor, thus forfeiting a chance for an offer to be published in the newspaper or magazine for which that editor works.

It is so difficult to get an editor to notice you in the first place and even harder to get published, regardless of whether or not any of your material has been in print in the past. Until recently, the mere thought of not doing everything possible requested in order to make one of my articles publishable was almost unheard of. That was until an editor enticed me with the possibility of success by almost convincing me to change the entire premise of what I had originally written.

After sending an article I had pitched countless times to yet one more magazine, as I am in the habit of doing after I submit a piece of writing, I checked my e-mail several times a day. Time passed without a word and I assumed I could chalk it up to another disappointment.

And then it finally happened. I walked by my laptop and gasped when I saw the message from the editor responding to my submission. I became excited; so excited that I almost lost sight of why I had written the article in the first place.

When I began writing this piece, it was about something I felt unusually passionate about. After trying for months without success to get even an acknowledgement about it, when I finally did hear back from an editor who expressed interest, I was both elated yet nervous at the same time.

This particular magazine usually made contact with writers only if it was considering publishing a proposed article. However, as I quickly found out, this was not going to be nearly as easy as I had assumed. Although the editor thought my article had potential, he would only consider publishing it if I rewrote it with some of his several, and I will admit thought-provoking suggestions in mind.

For the next few days after I had received his e-mail I thought of little else. Finally, after months of frustration, I would have the chance to see something I had worked so hard on appear in a respected publication, not to mention the opportunity for exposure to a far-reaching audience. Once I got started I realized what a worthwhile exercise this rewrite actually was.

When I was convinced that I had met the editor’s requirements, I sent him the revised version of my article. A couple of weeks went by before I heard anything further on the matter; that was until one afternoon when I received another e-mail message from the man, informing me that while he was pleased with some of what I had rewritten, he was nevertheless still not satisfied. He was adamant that I dig deeper and talk about what had happened in a rather personal story, which I was not so sure I felt comfortable doing.

While I appreciated some of his reasons, and granted it was I who put the story out there in the first place, I found his response slightly disturbing. In fact, he seemed almost angry in parts of his reply and simply would not accept my point of view as I presented it, actually doubting my sincerity.

I briefly considered doing yet another rewrite but then I realized that if I did that, the end result would not be my own words, obliterating the message I had set out to convey.

There are times when an editor can do a writer a favour by forcing that person to strive for greater depth in his or her writing. In fact, there are times when taking professional constructive criticism ultimately could make the difference between a writer being mediocre or really good.

Nonetheless, although I respected this man’s point of view and his feedback, something stopped me from rewriting the article a third time. It was not because I was too lazy or because I did not feel like it, but because I could not in all good consciousness claim a message to be mine that was really someone else’s.

Pushing a writer outside of his or her comfort zone for the sake of better quality writing is one thing, however once an editor requests that we essentially change our opinion or the voice that is telling one of our stories, I think we have to stop and ask ourselves if compromising artistic integrity is worth getting published.

I never dreamed that I would walk away from any chance whatsoever for publication but as it turns out what I value in myself as a writer is more important to me than adding another star to my resume. If I were to recreate my essay according to this editor’s wishes, the meaning of what I had originally wanted to express would be lost.

Yes, there is the glamour and glory of seeing my name in print, but part of that is re-reading my words and being happy with them. Although I do occasionally embellish certain details when I write, if I do not have the freedom to stand by my views, then I will not feel right when I see the finished product as one of my readers would.

Even though my article will not be published in this particular magazine, in my opinion, and in large part thanks to this nit-picky editor’s help, the piece is actually much better. More importantly though was what I learned about myself in the process of rewriting it the one time. Certainly having my work published is my end goal but not at any price. I will not in fact do anything just to see my name in lights.

The work of a writer has value regardless of whether or not someone else finds it worthy of being published. Although of course an editor is someone a writer wants on his or her side, that editor is also just another person and his or her opinion should be considered with that in mind.

On the other hand, if editors, or anyone else for that matter, find themselves so frustrated with a writer for not expressing opinions or ideas in precisely the way they want the message to be articulated, perhaps it would be easier if they just wrote about it themselves.♠

Copyright © Andrea Freedman 2013