One year ago today, I took the plunge.
I put it out to the free world that I wanted to start writing again.
At first, it was solely for me – and for whatever readers wanted to join me for the ride.
Later, it moved on to some freelance opportunities … which led to more freelance opportunities. It’s quite a rollercoaster ride trying to make it as a freelancer, but the key is to keep writing and writing and writing some more.
One year ago, I put myself out there with my first story/post/blog – whatever you want to call it.
One year later, I take you back to where it all began.
Thank you so much for all of your support over Year No. 1! I can’t thank you enough.
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I don’t listen.
OK, that’s not exactly true. I can safely say that I can be a really good listener. I’ve interviewed enough people to know that I can sit down without a script, carry on a conversation, and get the interviewee to start talking about things that matter to him or her. And then I can follow up with a question based on that response that shows that I was paying attention to what that person had just said, instead of reading a preconceived list of questions from a notebook pad.
You know what I mean. If you’re around someone who isn’t a good listener, and then … there goes a squirrel … and whatever you were just talking about went in one ear and out that same ear.
This isn’t a squirrel moment coming up. I’m just trying to connect some dots by using a circle instead of a straight line.
I’m a big fan of “Modern Family” reruns, since I can typically watch them in blocks and vegetate. One of my favorite storylines revolved around a wedge salad. Claire and Phil had a fight – Phil, of course, didn’t know why – because (after taking the advice of the legendary Skip Woosnam) Phil wanted Claire to partake in the deliciousness of a wedge salad. Claire had been trying for years to get Phil to try a wedge salad, and she was hurt because she believed that Phil didn’t listen to her and didn’t appreciate her opinions. Claire believed he didn’t have a problem taking suggestions from friends and strangers – even when those suggestions were the exact same thing that she had been telling Phil to do. In the end, Phil brought out a scrapbook full of changes he had made in his life based on Claire’s advice.
Well, this is a wedge salad moment in time for me. Not my only wedge salad, of course, and I’m sure there will be more of those lettuce skeletons coming.
For the last few years, my wife has suggested on numerous occasions that I should write a book. By numerous, I do mean more than once or twice. She swears she can get financing for me to write that great Wasserstrom novel. I put in nearly 25 years working for the Cubs – and was there for so many events and saw so many things that she thinks would be book worthy. Heck, when I first started there, people were still using typewriters, Wrigley Field didn’t have lights, and internet meant there was a foul ball off the screen behind the plate: “He fouled it in ter net.”
At any rate, I didn’t listen about sitting down and writing. And no, there aren’t any book thoughts swirling in my head right now.
Earlier this week, I ate lunch with a former Cubs co-worker at this place called The Little Goat Diner in the West Loop. I give a gratuitous tip of the cap to the restaurant, because it’s possible none of this would have taken place had I not tried something different – and let me tell you, that Sloppy Goat sandwich was tremendous. This friend suggested STRONGLY that I need to share my thoughts … that I’m a strong writer … that I have stories to tell … that I have plenty to offer a viewing audience.
She reminded me that I had blogged before a lot of people knew what blogging was. Back in 2000, I had one of those “trip of a lifetime” adventures – as the Cubs opened the season in Tokyo. While overseas and in a time when AOL ruled the world and smartphones weren’t attached to everyone, I was half a day away from all of my people in the central time zone. The only real way to communicate was through e-mail.
I took the opportunity to sit down every night and compose my daily experiences in a Dear Diary sort of way – and sent those thoughts to an e-mail group who I thought would be interested. One of the people on that distribution list was this “lunch meeting” friend, who turned my writings/musings into a two-page spread in the since-departed in-house VineLine magazine – complete with some of the stellar photographs I took with store-bought box cameras.
She suggested I start telling my stories. She said I could even go back in time and post the Japan stories again, just for the humor of it.
She’s right. I need to do this. I want to do this. I love sitting down and turning the scribblings in my head into thoughts on a keyboard – then turning those thoughts into words.
I have written hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of press releases (yes, I know they’re called news releases now) and plenty of feature articles. After a self-imposed hiatus while I pursued a different opportunity that wasn’t me, I’m quickly getting back into social media, and I’m doing a little Twitter (@C_Wasserstrom), dabbling into Instagram to largely troll what my daughters are posting (chuck.wasserstrom) and became possibly the last person to join Facebook (chuck.wasserstrom). I’ve really enjoyed getting to reconnect with people – and it has been truly awesome to hear directly from old acquaintances that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years.
But those other channels only give me little nuggets of space. I have an ability to tell stories – be it from the past or what’s going on in my day-to-day world – and to tell these stories in a longer-form design. Write when I want … what I want … and forever long (or short) I want. I’m writing for and hopefully entertaining you, the reader, but I’m also writing for yours truly.
Note: If no one other than Chuck Wasserstrom is reading this other than me, myself and I, then I have to do a better job of selling Chuck. Metrics aren’t good if the only person clicking on the story is the author.
So this platform is my wedge salad. The plan is that my wife doesn’t get mad that I’m putting the voices in my head into written form solely at the suggestion of someone else (although I know she still wants that book, but I’m starting small).
Note No. 2: If you’re reading this and don’t really know much about me, my wife’s name is Michelle. If you also happen to be a reader of books that have actually been written, you might have heard of Crossing California, a novel with a main character named Michelle Wasserstrom. That character is not my wife. Someone else has profited off her name.
Anyway, welcome to my blog/journal/diary/musings/hobby/inner demons. I hope you enjoy the ride.
By the way, in case you read this far and did notice, I purposely did not name the person who encouraged me to get this started -- mainly to protect the innocent. If this takes off for me as planned, I’ll give her full credit – provided I also meet her exacting standards and provided she signs that disclosure agreement that I can use her name for the betterment of myself. If it doesn’t work out, I don’t want you to blame or shame her.
And, if this proves to be relaxing and fun and cathartic and a release of that inner me, I’ll also give due credit to that Sloppy Goat sandwich.