Thursday, April 30, 2015

Old Friends

Social media wasn’t something I bothered with before I got married. “Facebook?” I remember asking my (then) fiancĂ©. “What’s the draw?”

Well, for good or ill, he showed me. I’m really not sure whether to give him the stink-eye for the immense amount of time-suckage that’s followed, or thank him for helping me build a bridge to friends and family I wouldn’t otherwise see.

I remember the excitement I felt each time I reconnected with a family member on the other side of the continent, or with a dear friend I’d made in New York, or a classmate I hadn’t seen since high school graduation.

But something else happened in the years that followed. It happened slowly, it happened ever so slyly… and it took a shamefully long time before I noticed:

Some of my dearest friends, the ones I’d loved for decades, the ones I used to hang out with on a Saturday night or call on a random Thursday (without fear of disturbing them because I knew exactly what they had planned that day), well, we lost touch. I mean, real touch. I see the little bits of airbrushed information they choose to share on Facebook. But their day to day triumphs and struggles … I’m missing those.

Did we all get so busy with our marriages and children and careers that we lost each other? Or did I allow social media to feed my inner recluse? Did I just stop calling, even though I never stopped caring?

I have a birthday coming up, and it’s a big one. Maybe it’s the nature of the birthday beast that one becomes introspective. Birthdays are always a sensitive time for me. They’re a time of gratitude for living another year, a time of life evaluation, and a time I’m likely to weep for no apparent reason.

It’s a beautiful life. I have my family, I have a writing career that’s taking off, I have a roof over my head and food on my table and my children’s laughter to keep me sane. But right now I’m missing some old friends. If you’re reading this, you know who you are. And if you’re reading this, I hope you know I still care.

xo S.M. Freedman  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Have Some Chocolate

Releasing a book to the world is reminiscent of standing on a stage and letting people come and strip you down. Okay, not that I’d know what it’s like to stand naked on a stage. But I have an imagination; it’s like that dream where you’re at school …. Yeah, that one. You know the one I mean. And you feel a little unprepared and a lot exposed.
THAT’S what releasing a book is.
As soon as it’s out there, people get to look at every bit of you and make judgments and comments. A book is part of a writer’s soul. Little pieces of their imagination, little bits of their history. Whether a book is fictional or not, the writer, in order to be any good, has to write herself into her work. It’s essential.
So what happens when you write a book that isn’t only a little slice of you, but is the whole gosh darn layered chocolate cake? You do a little hyperventilating. You may hold your breath altogether. And then you let it all go.

Hannah's brilliant cover by Rebecca Sterling
I just released FIVE WEEKS: A LIFETIME, a memoir about my infant son, Clinton. I know about letting go. And I’m doing it all over again. I want to let Clinton soar. I want his wisdom to cover the world in hope and love. I want people to be able to peer closely at me and my story, so they can stand in front of a mirror and look closely at their own. I want this so badly, it makes my eyes shine with tears and my heart do funny little things in my chest. As someone great and dear to me said, this isn’t a book; it’s a lifetime.

I’m here before you, baring it all, inviting you to come sit next to me. Take some time. Look deep.  Partake in my story and let yours shine.

And please, have a look now at Clinton’s tale. Available on Amazon. The whole darn chocolate cake.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Happiness of Pursuit

So what does the girl write about, when she hasn’t done any actual writing in a long while? Well … writing, of course.

Growing up, I remember being encouraged to be one of two things: Lawyer or Doctor. While other futures weren’t discouraged, these two professions were offered up as golden tickets to the World of Success. A shiny diploma to put on your wall as proof that ‘Hey, you’ve made it, kid!’ 

Which probably explains why I started college as a pre-med major. Fast forward one and a half years to me breaking down in front of my parents, admitting I just didn’t want to do this. Then fast forward a few more years, to me passing the bar exam and thinking ‘Oh God, what now?’

Cool story, bro. Right? 

My point is: If anyone can tell you what it is like to NOT follow your dreams, it’s me. Ever since I was a little girl telling stories to anyone who would listen, I knew I wanted to be a writer. And if I had been a braver person and actually shared my dream, my life might have been a whole lot different. Those people who know without a shadow of a doubt what they wanted in their life? Who never backed down from a challenge and were willing to fight for what they want? I have always been incredibly awed by those people. 

Because I took a different path. Yes: I have still made time to write a book. Although if you notice, that sequel has been a little slow in coming (okay, a LOT slow in coming). I just recently switched jobs. A change that moved me from what was basically a part time job, to a full time job with a bit of a commute that leaves me desperate to get away from a computer at the end of the day. 

And I find myself thinking: I actually love my job. I work for a great company and they invest a lot of effort in creating a work environment that employees thrive in. 

Still … still. It’s not my dream. In fact, it is starting to seem like that dream is slipping farther away and that somehow I’ve abandoned it. Betrayed it by no longer fighting for it.

But here is a little something I’m starting to learn. Writing is what happens when you stop worrying about writing. Or how about this, one of my favorite lines from a recent movie: 

My point? At some point, you have to forgive yourself. Life isn’t for the weak, and sometimes, yes, you do have to make sacrifice. Maybe even grow up a little.

But still, I try to remind myself to never give up. The happiness of pursuit? What does that mean to me? I could put it this way: Life is what happens when you are busy making plans. Don’t focus so much on the goal, that you don’t see that wonder in what is actually happening to you now. 

Do I wish I was a successful writing with multiple best seller series to my name? Heck yeah. But I can’t change what is now, or what has come before. I can’t bemoan the hours lost looking at cute cat pictures on the internet …

oops ...
Or slacking off on my couch, when I should have been writing. Instead, I can only focus on today, and try to be better tomorrow. And I can only be thankful for what I do have, and what I can create.

So that hopefully is my lesson to share today. I really truly believe our best writing occurs when we stop with all that other noise, and just enjoy the ride. Don’t think about if other people will like your book, or what best seller lists it will be on, or how you are going to promote it. Think about how fun the story is. Enjoy that rush of emotion when the ideas are pouring out of you so quickly, that your fingers can’t keep up. 

Because if we stop enjoying our dream, then that is when we’ve really failed. So let me steal those earlier words. 

We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness… but with the happiness of pursuit. Focus less on the goal of being a writer, and instead enjoy the pursuit of becoming one.