Today we’d like to introduce you to Deborah Sosin.
Deborah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve juggled multiple careers over the years—as a writer, editor, teacher, and clinical social worker. As a child, I was an avid learner, curious about a range of subjects, whether it was classical music or Greek mythology, art history or sports. That probably set the stage for my multifaceted work life.
I grew up in Rye, New York. When I was 12, my family moved to Munich, Germany, for four years. It was a wonderful opportunity to travel all over Europe and Israel and meet people from different countries and cultures. I started a diary then and still keep one now. At the University of Michigan, I studied writing, music, and psychology.
Later, I earned a master’s in social work at Smith College School for Social Work. My master’s thesis explored the relationship of adolescent girls to their diaries. In my small clinical practice, I specialize in mindfulness-based therapy; I have expertise in addiction recovery and recently published a workbook called Breaking Free of Addiction (Between Sessions Resources, 2017).
Working with words is my greatest passion—as a writer, editor, and teacher. In addition to working on my own writing, I offer groups and workshops privately and teach classes at GrubStreet in Boston.
One of my first publications appeared on the Boston Globe op-ed page, long before computers. I remember calling (on the phone!) the editor to pitch my idea; he liked it and said to hand-deliver it to the office on Morrissey Boulevard, which I did (after multiple revisions on a Smith Corona typewriter). It was published the following day—my first big byline. Nowadays, it’s easier to submit online, and I’ve been fortunate to have numerous essays published in magazines and literary journals.
A few years ago, I went back to school to get my MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University. An independent project led to the publication of Charlotte and the Quiet Place, a mindfulness-themed picture book illustrated by Sara Woolley (Parallax Press, 2015), which, I’m thrilled to say, has won several awards!
If that isn’t enough juggling, I’m also a choral singer, currently with the New World Chorale; and a volunteer with the Newton-Needham Child Assault Prevention Program.
And I occasionally read from my teenage diaries from Europe as part of the Boston cast of the comedy show “Mortified” at Club Oberon in Cambridge.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s been a long road, sometimes smooth, sometimes not. Being an entrepreneur, while it feels like the right choice for me because of my multiple interests and skills, is not for the faint of heart—it’s a 24/7 undertaking: doing the work itself, attending to self-promotion and networking, writing and responding to emails and phone calls, posting on social media, and organizing and prioritizing the daily to-do list. There’s no regular salary, no benefits such as health insurance or vacation/sick days (what’s that?!), no water-cooler moments with colleagues.
On the upside, I’m free to shape my own day and work in my pajamas if I want to. I can take a walk with a friend in the middle of the day or watch “The Price Is Right” (my guilty pleasure) while on the treadmill at the gym. I’m just not a cubicle person. Despite the uncertainty and stress sometimes, I value the freedom and variety and wouldn’t want to do my work life any other way.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I love helping people to improve their writing, whether it’s through direct coaching, hands-on editing, or a combination of the two. As a freelance editor, I work with individuals and organizations. My services include developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading of essays, web content, marketing materials, magazines, textbooks, manuals, as well as creative nonfiction and picture books.
Thanks to Mr. Fearon, my high school English teacher, I memorized all those nasty grammar rules that most folks don’t like to deal with. So, depending on the project, I might look at the “macro” piece, that is, the structure, flow, balance, logic. Or I might be asked to attend to the “micro” piece, such as punctuation, syntax, and spelling. Or both.
As a writing coach, I work with writers in any genre on overcoming perfectionism or procrastination, which can get in the way of moving forward. Together, we set specific, individualized goals. I offer structure and accountability, with a big dose of compassion. My training as a therapist is helpful, although I’m careful to keep those roles separate.
During the academic year, I love doing author visits at elementary schools, where I present an interactive Charlotte and the Quiet Place reading, then teach children (and teachers too!) some simple, calming mindfulness exercises; and talk about the writing and publishing process. There’s nothing more gratifying than being in a roomful of children who are blissfully breathing in and out, in and out, in unison.
So, in some ways, I’ve been a “helping professional” in some form for my whole career—guiding people to identify problems, clarify ideas, tell their stories, and express themselves more authentically and accurately, both in writing and in therapy.
Looking ahead, my long-term goal is to offer weekend or multi-day workshops or retreats that combine the experience of deep, authentic writing and mindfulness. It’s on my to-do list to find a lovely venue soon.
“Write It Like It Is” freewriting group, eight Thursday mornings, 10:30 to 12:00, beginning October 4, in Newton.
“The ABCs of Writing and Publishing a Picture Book,” at GrubStreet, Boston, Friday, October 26, 10:00 to 5:00.
“Write It Like It Is: The Art of Freewriting with a Purpose,” a one-day workshop at GrubStreet, Friday, November 30, 10:00 to 5:00.
I’m also available to present talks and seminars on different aspects of writing and mindfulness, and mindfulness for children, all of which are listed on my website.
- Website: www.deborahsosin.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credits: Kevin Day Photography, Am Media Group, Stacey Moriarty, Newton Montessori School