Christine Pasalo is a freelance writer based in San Diego, California. She specializes in magazine writing, blogging, and corporate writing. Christine spotlights people and organizations eager to make a positive impact in the world. She writes about them because she believes that Creativity and Do-Goodery crave company.
Misery has its place. Solutions don't exist without problems. But there are many who do a good job of covering what's wrong.
I choose to write about what's going right.
To get here took two steps. First, I had to learn to take a hint. Then, I had to let go.
Growing up, I forced myself to do well in science even though I had a natural interest and work ethic for literature and writing. In 7th grade, I didn't want to use a weekend to work on a science fair project, but I didn't mind using Saturdays and Sundays to work on articles for the class newspaper. During high school, I put off studying for chemistry exams, but I proactively pulled all-nighters to analyze novels and write stellar papers. This all evolved from trying to please well-meaning parents who conditioned me to think I should someday be our family's physician.
So, when I was accepted to UCSD in 1997, there was no question that I would major in General Biology. Not realizing my disinterest, I was surprised that the grades I received for my Biology courses took the form of consonants. But I trudged on. Biochemistry. Genetics. Physiology Lab. Each was a lesson in humility.
Meanwhile, a friend recognized that I not only enjoyed the writing courses we were required to take but that I was more successful in them. He suggested that I take a literature course for fun. I took his advice and, suddenly, "A" was more than an article in a sentence. I signed up for more. A course on reportage gave me the chance to contribute to the winter issue of one the university's magazines. I pitched a story on a student trying to set a university record for completing the most units in one quarter; the student was aiming to complete 52 units when the average student only completed 16 units. I wrote the story based on interviews with the student and his roommates. The story was featured as the main article.
It was enough to make me realize that I didn't want to pursue a career in medicine. But I also knew that I'd feel like a quitter if I switched majors.
So, I graduated in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in General Biology and a minor in Literature/Writing. Three months later, I began working for the global academic publishing company in Downtown San DiegoElsevierand eventually learned to be a technical writer. I wrote materials used by my local and international co-workers and managers: manuals, reports, and damn fine presentations. I also wrote web copy for an intranet site focused on training. Fun people, a fair salary, medical benefits, and work trips to Amsterdam and Oxford lulled me into staying with the corporation for nine years.
Then, around the end of 2009, I contributed to two of the company's newsletters and felt a thrill similar to earning an A-average in my college literature classes. Interviewing co-workers and sharing their stories with the entire company was satisfying. The articles gave co-workers a chance to be noticed. They were no longer corporate cogs. They had faces and voices, ideas and opinions.
But just as I was beginning to shake myself out of my 9-year stupor, I was reminded in a variety of subtle ways that writing stories for the newsletters was not in my job description. The stories were extracurricular and had the potential to take time away from what I was expected to do.
It was about this time that I first started following Holiday Matinee, a "blog for creative inspiration," and came across its founder's motto: "Love your work and work your love."
The saying became my smelling salt. If writing stories of interest and value to the people around me was seen as a potential burden on my time, then I had to simplify.
I put in my 3-week notice.
Since starting my freelance writing career in 2010, my work has been published in San Diego Magazine, Pacific San Diego Magazine, Examiner.com, sandiego.cities2night.com, Proxart.com, MateoMagazine.com, and DigThisJive.com (my personal blog).
Writing has given me the privilege of interviewing musicians like Jane Lui, Clara C, Katie Herzig, Peter Bjorn & Paul, and Escape the Fate's Robert Ortiz; artists like Kelli Murray, Jocelyn Duke, Alex Minch, Jimmy Ovadia, Dave Persue aka Bunny Kitty, Gloria Muriel, Monty Montgomery and Jason Feather; writers like Mary Castillo and Rene Gube; and entrepreneurs like Nate Stanton of El Dorado Cocktail Lounge and Craft & Commerce, and Chef Matt Gordon of Urban Solace and Solace & the Moonlight Lounge.
I've also been lucky to write about and be inspired by people like Cardiff surfer Sarah Hughen, who surfed every day for one year to raise money for breast cancer research; Dr. David J. Chao, Head Team Physician of the San Diego Chargers and co-founder of the San Diego Sports Medicine Foundation; Dalouge Smith, president and CEO of the San Diego Youth Symphony; Richard Kiy, president of the International Community Foundation; and Ellen Ochoa, former astronaut and current Director of the Johnson Space Center.
Outside of writing articles, I keep my technical writing skills sharp by writing reports and maintaining a training manual for the Programming Department of the nonprofit educational organization known as Comic-Con International. I also proofread copy for JayVee Dance Center and Graffiti Beach Magazine, a publication of the San Diego-based store Graffiti Beach.
Misery had its place in this story. But now things are as right as an angle. Time to get to work.
To review samples of my work, please visit my work page.
(By the way: that friend who suggested I take that first literature course? He's now my husband.)