Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Fear of Pressing ‘Send’

Andrea Freedman

Are you a writer who is sometimes afraid to hit “Send”? Do you think you might “get in trouble” from an editor or that they might actually get angry that you had the nerve to send something to them in the first place?

I confess. Although the rational side of me knows that I am satisfied with my finished product before I am prepared to share it with anyone, let alone an editor of a magazine or newspaper, and although there are many occasions when I am confident, even relieved, to have submitted a piece, the other side of me sometimes takes over and my imagination conjures up all kinds of scenarios on the other end, such as an editor, upon seeing my e-mail saying “Her again!” and automatically deleting my submission without even bothering to read it.

Rejection is one thing; I certainly am used to that. But sometimes I actually get a nervous feeling before I open an e-mail from an editor in response to one of my submissions, especially if the piece I submitted was at all controversial. I brace myself for what will more than likely be another rejection, but there are times when I wonder if I might also be scolded by the editor.

I re-read his or her words repeatedly and ask myself if there is a hidden, perhaps even condescending undertone behind them. Are they really trying to say “There really is no easy way to say this but please, do us a favour and take the hint; we weren’t interested when you submitted to us in the past and we still are not interested”.

Thankfully, for the most part I have found editors to be very professional and in many cases, even kind, whether or not they choose to publish something I proposed.

As we writers all know, rejection is something that is guaranteed to come along with the territory. The reality is, while one editor might not like what we have to say, another might find our words brilliant by contrast.

Obviously rejection is not limited to writers. People face rejection to their business proposals and ideas every day but that does not stop those who are successful from having the confidence to use it as a learning experience and move forward.

Occasionally, I will see that I have an e-mail from a magazine or newspaper only moments after submitting to them. I open it with trepidation; with such a short time having passed since I sent the article, I am almost certain first of all that it was not even read and second of all that I will be met with yet another disappointment.

The truth is we have nothing to lose by continuing to submit our work; in fact, we have a lot more to lose by letting fear stand in our way. Our dreams take perseverance and we must be prepared for many let-downs along the path to our success and try to remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to individual creativity.

I read my draft e-mail submission one last time. Finally, I take a deep breath and press Send. After that there is nothing I can do to take it back. I have put myself out there yet again, and I am prepared to accept whatever results, good, bad or indifferent, go along with it. It is my choice to hit Send just as it is the person on the receiving end’s choice to press the Delete key.

Not everything a writer submits will appeal to everyone. If someone does not wish to read something just by glancing at the subject line then let them go ahead and delete it. It does not necessarily mean that it was wrong to send it.

Furthermore, besides not being afraid of sending out our writing, we should also not be fearful of following up if we do not receive the courtesy of a response. There is nothing wrong with thinking oneself worthy of at the very least an acknowledgement.

We are not kindergarten children, we are adults. More importantly, we are writers and a publication is just as lucky to publish our work as we are to see it in print.

The thing is, if we constantly second-guess ourselves whether it is has to do with our writing abilities or anything else we may hope to achieve then we ourselves are basically saying that our work or what we have to say is not good enough. Although it is not always easy, we cannot allow fear and insecurity to interfere with the pursuit of our passions. So go ahead, just for fun, hit ‘Send’.♦

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013

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Old Books – Give Them Away or Shelve the Idea?

Andrea Freedman

For those of you who read my May 13, 2013 post The Library My New Book Store, as I have previously mentioned, although I still am just as avid a reader as I always have been, I have not actually purchased a new book for quite some time.

Recently, while on a mad rampage to de-clutter our home, I was faced with a dilemma when it came time to decide whether or not to sell some of the many, many existing books I had collected over the years. I could not imagine which books I would be able to bring myself to get rid of first, if any.

Nevertheless, in my continuing quest to survive as a proverbial starving writer, and in a temporary lapse in judgement, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone by getting rid of my enormous pile of dust-collecting books, as well as scraping together a few extra dollars by selling them to the used book store across the street.

After decades of reading and collecting books, they could no longer be contained on our large book shelf and had begun to overflow onto tables and dressers. Things were getting out of control and I did not know where to begin. As I walked over to the bookshelf, large bag in hand which I intended to fill with used books, I realized this was going to be a much more difficult task than I had originally thought it would be.

I had always been someone who hesitated to even lend books, never mind giving them away or selling them. If someone ever told me “Oh, sorry, I lent your book to a friend of mine,” I would secretly seethe inside.

Filled with doubt, off I went to the local used book store weighed down by my bag of books; after all, I tried to reason with myself, I had no intention of re-reading any of them, no matter how much I may have enjoyed reading them the first time.

However, when I really thought about it, selling my entire collection of books, which I had amassed over so many years, may yield me just enough money to purchase three or four new books at best. I might be able to stave off a bill-collector for one more month, but then what? After I inevitably decide to use that money to “treat myself”, will what I gave up really be worth it?

I would probably end up eventually starting a new book collection all over again, most likely regretting the one I had already given up. What’s next, selling all my old CDs and getting rid of the music in our home? I wondered what I would do the next time I felt like closing the blinds and dancing.

Giving anything away, I find, sometimes requires a deep breath and a practical, unsentimental attitude. But if we get rid of everything that means something to us, what then will there be left to set us or the character of our homes apart from others’?

With today’s e-readers and online publications, actual printed books are a dying breed. I asked myself how I could in all good consciousness contribute to the new cold, culture of constant down-sizing and the no-nonsense way of reading and hope to have my own novel published one day, displayed on the shelves of bookstores and in readers’ homes.

I hesitated before going up to the counter. I wondered what else I could get rid of instead of my books. I guess I needed to go through the motions of gathering up my books and bringing them to the store; once the reality of what I was about to do set in, I turned around and walked out of the shop with my full bag of books in tow. I decided, at least for the time being, to hold onto them.

I am sure if I look hard enough I will find something else I no longer need that I can sell or give away. It may turn out to be an item of greater monetary value but its worth will not equal nearly as much as those books.

Books add warmth to a room and can actually enhance a home’s décor rather than deter from it. They can be conversation starters and they can say as much about a person as a sterile, unlived-in looking house can.

No matter how much I want to de-clutter, there are some possessions I realize I just can’t part with. The price of certain items extends far beyond only their fiscal value, and that some things, even if they do take up space and even if they could be exchanged for a little money, are still worth keeping, even if they have to be dusted off occasionally.♦

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013

Champagne, Flowers and Family Ties

Andrea Freedman

A family wedding is not only an opportunity to reconnect with one’s relatives; it is also a chance for guests to feel like they are on the red carpet for just one night.

As we prepare for the upcoming event with eager anticipation, every detail of our finery is considered, not only suits, dresses and accessories, but right down to the undergarments. Strapless bras need to fit perfectly so that they do not fall or have to be constantly adjusted, not to mention necessary measures to prevent mascara from running or false eyelashes from drooping.

Men have it much easier, their biggest decision being which tie to wear with their suit or tuxedo but for women, the lead-up to a big family wedding, especially if it is a black tie affair, sends some of us into Academy Award mode. The right dress and of course shoes are the first step.

Costs escalate. There are also manicures, hair dos and makeup to consider but let’s face it, part of what these parties are for is a chance to get dressed up and feel beautiful. Sometimes we can get carried away and spend more money than anticipated, before even taking the gift into consideration.

The bridesmaids’ dresses will no doubt be scrutinized as the ladies wearing them make their way down the isle, but when the dry ice on the dance floor is cleared, the bride is really the only person that all eyes are going to be on.

Upon arrival, family members check each other out and exchange compliments on dress choices. Some are happy when they discover they will be sitting at the same table, while others not so much.

Some distant relatives we have not seen for a while may appear older, while others look surprisingly youthful and spry. There are murmurs such as “She must have had work done” and of course, inevitably, gossip.

Occasionally there may be someone we dread seeing at a family wedding, putting a damper on an event we might otherwise feel excited about. Often the dread is worse than the outcome.

Of course someone is bound to drink too much. Hopefully whatever happens, since it is all in the family, everyone will be laughing about it the next day, without regrettable incidents as the result of heated arguments between any of the intoxicated guests.

With so many divorced and blended families these days, it is sometimes also a night for old resentments to be put aside. People tend to seem more generous of spirit and forgiving on such a special day, reminding them of what really matters.

It is always nice to see older people enjoying themselves at weddings. They are part of what makes a family party more meaningful and they add soul to a family celebration. Absences of family members who have passed on are accepted as part of life but felt deeply nonetheless.

Family weddings are a nice reminder of how it feels to belong, with your family. No matter how much time has gone by since some of us have seen one another, there is always a special feeling between us.

Personally, I do not look my best after I’ve had a few drinks, which usually occurs early on in the festivities. Not to mention how sweaty I get on the dance floor; in a way it reminds me of the days when I used to go clubbing, horrified when I make a trip to the ladies’ room and see my hair plastered to my head and mascara running down my face.

It doesn’t matter though. I’m with my family. Once the shoes are kicked off, favourite songs danced to, tears shed out of happiness and feelings of nostalgia when we listen to the speeches, it is a time to relax, eat, drink and have fun. Anything goes; it’s all in the safety of the cocoon of our families.

There is warmth at a family wedding unlike any other. The feeling in the room is something everyone in attendance can agree on. We all have that in common, sharing yet another family party to chalk up in our book of memories. Friends’ weddings are special too, but there is nothing quite the same as sharing in such an important event with one’s family.

As we welcome someone new into our fold, we look forward to future gatherings and celebrations, where we will have a chance to get to know our new family member even better.

Toward the end of the evening, promises are made to get together with relatives before the next big family function. Sometimes those promises are kept and sometimes they are not, well-intentioned undertakings to stay in touch falling to the wayside when other things in life get in the way.

Once we get home and change into something more comfortable, it is time to talk about the dresses, the food, ambience and conversations we had with others at the wedding. The fragrance of flowers permeates our home if we are lucky enough to take a centre piece with us upon leaving.

The afterglow lasts long after a family wedding is over and the fun had by all binds us together again, reminds us who are most important in our lives, and makes us look forward to the next time we have a chance to walk the red carpet together.♦

Copyright © Andrea Freedman 2013