Writing by Kyle Freelander
Thanksgiving is the time of year when we all take a moment and really appreciate the things we may have taken for granted throughout the year or even during our lives. So, while it is not meant to be a complete list, here is my list of what I am thankful for this year (in no specific order):
My parents for obvious reasons, but I am especially thankful for my sisters. We may have disagreements, crankiness due to lack of coffee, and our dogs might legitimately hate each other, but those are always temporary (well, dogs…who knows). In them I have two shopping buddies, people who are forced to at least occasionally like the same types of food, ones who understand where I come from, where I’m am, and where I want to be. They are the people I can talk to about my day, tell my crazy stories to, or even just seek advice about my latest strange dream. I like the way we have inside jokes, the same sense of humor, and that we look related in photos. Mainly though, I like the fact that we’re friends when life only forced us to be related.
I’m not even quite sure where to start on this one. It’s almost two-fold. I am thankful for getting into George Mason’s MFA program. I remember the anticipation of waiting to hear back, the doubts as to whether or not I had made the right choice in choosing not to accept a different school’s offer the previous year, and then all of the smiles and hugs and congratulations once I got my acceptance letter –just when I was about to give up hope.
Now I am thankful for actually being in graduate school. I am currently wrapping up my first semester in the MFA program and already I feel like I have done and learned a lot. From teaching opportunities, to Fall for the Book, to all of my classes, to the books I read, to the stories I’ve written, to the horse blog I started, the new people I have met, the friends I’ve made, and everything in between –I am thankful.
All of them are fabulous. They are there to partake in happy hour, brunch, shopping, or even going on the boring errand I didn’t want to do alone. We swap stories, offer advice, talk about the good ole days, talk about the great new days, try new things, and just take a break from the stress of the world. I am ever thankful to each and every one of my friends for being some combination of that for me as I hope I am able to offer the same to them.
He is there when I need a shoulder to cry on, when I have a coffee addiction to deal with, when I need a push, or even when I just need some support. We have had moments of weakness (it would be naïve to pretend that everyone is happy all of the time), but we have come out of those moments stronger and with a better understanding of who we are as individuals. He takes interest (and usually even takes part of) the things I am interested in: he listens to me read a cool story aloud, goes to horse shows with me, watches me horseback ride (and sets up the ring for me as needed), reads my writing, shares my current writing that’s out there in the world already, and then always looks for something he could be doing more. I feel appreciated, challenged as a person, and I know that there will never have a dull moment with him.
Dusty is an angelic soul…hahaha. Okay, but really. I am thankful for Dusty in spite of the fact that he invites himself up on the couch, barks at all other dogs, barks at all birds, manages to get his leash trapped under the hood of the car (props for that one), eats the remainder of the pre-holiday cookies for my early Christmas enjoyment, and the fact that he refuses to wear the bowtie I hand crafted him for more than maybe 5 minutes. Why, you ask? Because he is Dusty. Dusty my little shelter dog that I got during my freshmen year of college. Dusty the dog who likes cuddles, has no qualms with forcing you to pet him, follows me around the house, gets overly excited every time he sees me regardless of how long I’ve been gone, the one who thinks my shoes are the coziest dog bed, the one who lets me dress him up in clothes (which is actually a development new to this year), and the one who loves me regardless of how many things I’ve had to scold him for that day. You can follow him on Instagram @oldmandustydog (no joke –he has the occasional need in life for mindless activities to give him a break from his intensive dog studies).
My first novel, Facing the Tide, was released a little over a year ago (11/12/13) as and ebook. This year on (2/15/14), it was released as a paperback. I spend a lot of time flipping being proud of my book and trying to shield its existence from certain people. This is not because of the content/plot of my book (which I like very much), but more because of the connotation of “self-publishing” or “Indie publishing.” Some people think that this term does not hold as much merit as a book that goes through the methods of traditional publishing, and I admit that I have been guilty of similar thoughts on occasion. They are thoughts that I struggled with even before my decision to go ahead and publish my book anyway (there were several factors at play here, none of them being that my book “wasn’t good enough” for traditional publishing). Between all the time I spent writing, revising, rewriting, editing, designing the cover, formatting the layout, getting all the things that make a book a book (hello, ISBN number), and all of the marketing and promotional components to getting a book out there…I feel foolish for even being “embarrassed” for a second about my book. It is something that I have invested time, money, heart, and soul into and, for that, I am proud and thankful (especially thankful for those who have read the book and/or supported me throughout this process).