Category: freelance writer Rochester MN

A Dailey Freelance Exclusive! Ode To Cartwright, Adams and Wheaton.

When you write freelance material for a client, it is great to be able to give them something that no one else has. Kind of like getting “the scoop” before any other news outlet, to put it in olde-timey journalistic parlance. Really it is about giving them something fresh to offer their followers. Digging a bit deeper than anyone else bothers to.

To illustrate what I’m talking about:

This Friday is the anniversary of the day that, in 1846, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York played the first known match under the official rules they had written up the year before. In the match they were destroyed by a club called the New York Nine, who thrashed the over-confident Knickerbocker Club by a score of 23-1 on the Knicks’ home turf, Elysian Fields in Hoboken, NJ.

I have noticed that history tends to come down to us in threes.

  • First there is the mythologized version of what happened.
  • Then there is “the real story.”
  • And then, when you dig a little deeper you get “the whole story.”

The myth was that Abner Doubleday had invented baseball in Cooperstown, NY seven years before the Knickerbocker vs. Nine match. The myth is the reason that to this day the National Baseball Hall of Fame is situated in Cooperstown. But it didn’t happen.

The “real story” is that Knickerbocker Club member Alexander Cartwright had written the rules the previous year. Often referred to as the “Cartwright Rules” it is a set of regulations so imperfectly perfect that they seem totally random and ordained from On High all at once.

But the “whole story” is that versions of the game were already being played by kids for probably hundreds of years before Cartwright. Though he probably played a huge role in the “invention” of baseball as it is played today, a great deal of the credit ought to go to another Knickerbocker Club member, Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, and William Wheaton. As a matter of fact, Wheaton has claimed to have written up a set of rules for the Gotham Base Ball Club in 1837!

There is plenty of information, and there are plenty of accounts that have been dug up concerning their roles in early baseball that you can research on your own if you are interested.

That is “the scoop” I mentioned. That’s the “exclusive!” In the old days, in pursuit of “the scoop” a story would rarely reach the “real story” level, and certainly their was no time for the “whole story”. Fortunately it is a different time and Dailey Freelance can take the time to give you more depth. More substance.

Famous Last Four-Letter Words

My wife drives us to and from work each day. Recently an incident on our afternoon commute almost resulted in my last words on Earth being a string of profanities that I will not enumerate here.

Not important.

An oncoming vehicle had entered our lane, and all that prevented the car from occupying the same space as ours, an impossibility that nature would have quickly resolved with our death or mutilation (to paraphrase Sheldon Cooper) was my wife’s cat-like reflexes. She glanced to our right and finding the other lane clear, swerved.

Apparently we lived.

I don’t want to say it was one of those moments of clarity when suddenly I began to re-evaluate everything I was doing with my life and how I was spending my time and whatnot. Of course those things did kind of run through my head, but I don’t want to subject you to cliches right now.

Really it made me think about one’s final moment. Did I want that string of profanities to be the last words my wife heard me say? What if my panic caused more distress for her in that moment? What if my panic in that moment robbed me of calm? What if my tendency toward panic robbed me of calm on a daily basis?

This post is really about every moment, up to and including the final one. That car charging toward us in our lane was a big ol’ horrifying reminder to use the tools that I know I have at my disposal to maintain my cool under any circumstances.

Not to get all metaphysical on you.

I’ve long felt that I am not a “die with my boots on” kind of guy. I want to know it is coming and be at peace with it all. I don’t need my last words to be like those of Sir Isaac Newton, who is alleged to have spake thusly on his deathbed:

I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

But, you know, something like that.

I’d like to be known as the kind of guy who could turn a phrase in a pinch, or even not in a pinch. The problem is that I have also long felt that I am a better writer than I am a speaker. I need to have time to consider my words.

Maybe I have been reading too much lately about Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel, two baseball clowns who, though they had a knack for saying things in a very – shall we say – unique way, if you knew them at all or if you were paying attention to what they were saying, you knew that what they said made perfect sense. How else do you explain the existence of the terms “Berra-isms” and “Stengelese”? These guys seemingly just blurted stuff out and it was often pure gold. They spoke a language with its own logic.

I just want to leave a better legacy than a string of profanities. I mean they have their time and place, to be sure, and they can be quite fun. In that moment on our afternoon commute that day though, it probably would have been better to have someone else write my script for me. But no. That would not do. Because that string of profanities was me being my most authentic self in that moment. Maybe I could have used a little help cleaning it up a bit, making the most effective use of those swears as possible.





Watching For Deer

A few days ago my wife and I were on the road in some slushy winter weather. She was driving, I was in the passenger seat. Off to our right there were probably six or seven deer. Traffic has been a little nuts lately in that area, so I didn’t say anything. I let my wife drive.

Normally I would point out deer to her. In fact, growing up, if anyone in my family looked out the window and saw even one deer, they’d shush everyone and we’d watch the deer until it was gone. My dad would even take me, my brother, and sister out driving around solely for the purpose of looking for deer.

But it isn’t just a Midwest thing. In the movie “Stand By Me” which takes place in Oregon, in one scene Gordie is off on his own in the woods where he sees a deer. The older, narrator Gordie says “It was on the tip of my tongue to tell [his friends] about the deer. But I didn’t. That was the one thing I kept to myself. I’ve never spoken or written about it until now.”

Sure, deer are beautiful and graceful, and they are the largest mammal most people in America will likely ever see in the wild. But the way Gordie made such a point about never having talked about it to anyone, and the way that I’d watched the animals as a kid with such reverence even if they were just pacing around the yard, it seems like seeing a deer is nearly a mystical experience.

We all have those things, those experiences, those moments. Maybe, like for Gordie, for you they are deeply personal. I am grateful that he shared his, because as mundane as it was, it revealed that some things can be both mundane and mystical. For many, all things are both. But we all have certain things that stand out above the rest for us.

In my freelance writing I try to bring out that bit of wonder in the everyday, the magic in the mundane, or if nothing else, just that everyday stuff my clients do which is fantastic. I hope I can bring that to life for you.

Maybe Their’s To Little Time For Worrying About It? Or Is Their.

Do you think people who become writers are those who are naturally inclined to be grammar police types? Or is it more likely to be the other way around?

I’ve considered myself a writer for as long as I can remember. But it has only been in recent years that I’ve felt a building irritation whenever I see statements ending in question marks (“I thought this was a question? Maybe in some universe it is?”), questions ending in periods, or – God help us all – the wrong too, to, there or their.

I blame the fast pace of social media, and the inconvenience of switching over to symbols mode from alphabet mode on a mobile device. It’s not really inconvenient but it is another step. I think people figure everyone is going to know what they mean anyway and life is short. They don’t want to throw away valuable moments on strict adherence to the laws of grammar.

I think the only reason everyone is going to know what they mean anyway is because it is becoming the norm.

It probably stands out to me more because, while I do use social media quite a bit, I do not use a mobile device.

Not at all.

I’m dead serious.

I went through a phase years back when I was making it my life’s work to point out everybody’s infractions with to and too and there and their, etc.

I’m not proud of it. Just being honest.

And right in the middle of all of this, out of the blue I started catching myself doing the very same things. It was humbling.

Then recently, I started noticing an increasing popularity of question marks where they don’t belong and missing question marks where they did belong. I was legitimately baffled. And I started letting people know about it.

And then the question mark button on my computer got stuck and I couldn’t use it. I knew what was happening, on a karmic level. For a while I would type out “question mark” where the punctuation should have been. I guess I was doing my best to be accurate, but I was also probably doing penance of some sort, going through all those extra keystrokes.

Then my keyboard started working the way it was meant to.

Though I hope being so serious about these things makes me a better freelance writer, or if nothing else a better editor, it does not keep me from writing in a casual, informal style when the job calls for it. And there are a ton of other grammatical rules I am probably very lax about. Like commas. I put them wherever I bloody well feel they belong.

Let’s call my approach uptight informality.


Would You Rather…? A Business Owner’s Dilemma.

Remember when you were a kid and you played that game where you had to decide, hypothetically of course (hopefully) whether you’d rather wrestle a tiger or…I don’t know…like, eat a bike?

It was called “Would you rather…?” and it was supposed to present you with two equally unpleasant experiences but you had to decide which one you’d rather do. You know, for fun.

Now that we’re grown, we are presented with real world dilemmas like that sometimes. If you own a business and are under a time crunch, while I certainly hope that none of your responsibilities are comparable to fighting a tiger or eating a bike, you may have to decide whether you want to prioritize writing your promotional and marketing materials, OR:

  • Customer service – Often you’re the face of the company. You’re at the front desk. You’re greeting customers at the door. You’re answering the phone. It’s the most constant of all of these things. While you may be able to get in some writing between calls or customers, you won’t be able to give it the focus it requires.
  • Training – I’ve been a supervisor for a small company and spent hours periodically training small groups of new hires. You want to take the time to do it well so you don’t have to do it again. Probably sooner than later. You balance the desire to train them well with the desire to be fully staffed.
  • Maintenance -Little things will come up that you’ll have to take on whether it be changing a light bulb, fixing the office toilet or unclogging a sink. All of these things need to be attended to in the moment, and take up a part of your day.
  • Human resources and “the books” – If you own a small business you may be the person who does payroll, and pays the bills. You probably do the math to figure out how much you need to bring in just to “keep the lights on” and what steps you need to take to make it happen.
  • Legalese – There is a lot that a business owner has to know in order to cover their own backs. Any legal issue that comes up will fall squarely in your lap.
  • Scheduling and taking appointments – Whether it be clients coming in to do business, interviewing potential new employees, or maybe even local media interviews, a small business owner often has a lot of slots filled on their daily calendar.

And then:

  • Social media – Keeping your company’s social media up to date can be just as time-consuming as marketing/blogging. But it is also something that business owners tend to take overly seriously. Social media should be regular but it doesn’t always have to be directly about what your company makes or sells or the service it provides. It can be fun, off the cuff, and doesn’t have to take up too much time.

This is a service that Dailey Freelance does offer, though most business owners prefer to do this themselves.

  • Advertising – if you’re a small business this may involve nothing more than calling the local newspaper and telling them what you want your ad to look like. Maybe they handle the rest. But putting out the right message is a consideration that takes time.

This is very similar to the blogging service provided by Dailey Freelance, except that with your blog, you publish the content yourself. You have control over it. You own it. It’s just a matter of whether you want to take the time to write it yourself or hire a freelancer.

As the owner of the business, each of these things are of more immediate concern to you than blogging. But that doesn’t mean that blogging is of less importance. The more and more digital the market place becomes, the more essential this type of marketing will be. Why not hire someone who has the time to craft great, effective messaging for you?

Let Yourself Be Edited

As a freelancer, the clients I’ve worked for have given me fairly free rein to write as I like, after agreeing on a topic, that is. Even so, there have been times when I’ve asked the client their thoughts on a line or word I was thinking of using. I’ve always been glad I did, but it has usually been up to me to use my discretion and they’ve posted my work as I submitted it.

I’ve always felt that showed that the client trusted me, but it was also a great feeling knowing I gave them what they were looking for.

Recently I’ve written a freelance piece for a local magazine. That is a different animal altogether. I used to write for a newspaper but that was long ago. In the newspaper/magazine biz, depending on the deadline, you may submit your work and the editor will tell you they made a few changes, but you might not know what those changes are until the piece has been published.

And that’s fine. That’s why they are called editors. They are the gatekeepers. They have the final say.

There is an old writer’s adage, “Kill your darlings.” Editing yourself is a tough exercise. Ego comes into play. Delusions of grandeur even. Sometimes that bit you think is absolutely brilliant is just fluff and you may have to kill it.

Having been truly edited, the value of editing myself becomes all the more pronounced. Because though I will continue to freelance for magazines, I also love to write for business owners who hire me so they don’t have to make those decisions.

It’s kind of an important role they’ve entrusted me with. I respect that greatly.

Beatles Relics Come To Rochester – The Magical History Tour Exhibit

My wife and I rolled up to the Beatles Magical History Tour in Rochester tonight. I am not the type of bloke who can very often be told things about the Beatles that he didn’t already know. But this exhibit did just that.

The main thing I learned that I didn’t already know was that those thousands of fans who were waiting at the airport for the Beatles when they arrived in America in 1964 were paid to scream and wear Beatles shirts. I mean it’s not like a myth has been shattered or anything. I think a part of me knew that must have been the case.

And though I know that Beatles marketing went berserk in the spring of 1964, I was still really amused to see exactly how nuts it got. For instance, did you know there were Beatles nylons…for some reason? Among the thousands and thousands of trinkets, toys and snacks with the Beatles name and likeness on it, that has to be the weirdest one for me. None of this stuff was endorsed by the Beatles. Well, very little of it. At this point it was a commercialized free-for-all beyond anyone’s control.

Did you know that the band that became the Beatles existed longer before the “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance than it did after the show? It’s true. And I would have liked it if the exhibit included more from the very early days of the band variously known as the Quarrymen, Johnny and the Moondogs and other monikers until they settled on “Beatles.” But it was nice to see a section featuring some of early Beatles bassist Stuart Sutcliffe’s artwork. I think he would have been well-known in the art world even if he had not been a Beatle, if he’d lived beyond the age of 21.

Being a super Beatles fan that I am, in some ways the exhibit was underwhelming. There are too many things to name that I would have liked to see that weren’t included. But they only had so much space, and let’s face it, some of the things that I would have liked to see probably should stay wherever they are. Besides, I know that for anyone who is at least a little more casual about their fandom than I am, the exhibit will be fascinating.

It was fun to listen to some of the songs that inspired each of the Beatles growing up. That interactive experience, coupled with the 1950’s era radios installed in the exhibit allowed one to imagine they were a teen in Liverpool listening to Radio Luxembourg just like John, Paul, George and Ringo did.

Speaking of music, though…

I was feeling good vibes hearing songs like “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” near the beginning. But the farther you get into the exhibit, each segment has different Beatles songs playing, and the further you go, the more songs layer on top of one another until it feels like, to reference Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s bio, “a cellarful of noise.” Midway through the one song that stood out to me among all the simultaneously playing songs was “Tomorrow Never Knows” which is already a cacophony of sound by itself. So it, layered with songs from every Beatles era, it got to be a bit much. You wanted to celebrate their music. It’s indispensable for such an exhibit, obviously. But I couldn’t help thinking a better way may have been having the tour scheduled on the hour or something so that everyone going through was at the same section at the same time. That way once you’re past the “I Saw Her Standing There” section they could switch that off and turn on “Help!” or whatever it was. But you don’t want something like this to be so strictly regimented, so it is what it is.

Speaking of “Tomorrow Never Knows”, there is one whole open section draped with psychedelic colors wherein “Tomorrow Never Knows” plays, and it is there that you know beyond a doubt that you are about to walk into a new phase of Beatledom. It’s a trip.

The exhibit really had everything though. I laughed at the witty letters written by or about the Beatles, at the Beatles mop-top inspired comb and bobble heads, and at the pieces of John and Paul’s hair, and the piece of carpet that had been cut up from a hotel room because the Beatles had stayed there. I awed at the spot-on reconstruction – graffiti and all – of the Cavern Club stage, the venue where the band played hundreds of shows in 1961-62, and at the original drum kit of Colin Hanton, the Quarrymen’s drummer from 1957-58. I sat in silent reverie for a moment in front of the actual Double Fantasy album that John Lennon autographed for Mark David Chapman just hours before Chapman murdered Lennon.

Given that the exhibit was otherwise a joyous affair, it deflated the experience a bit seeing Lennon’s signature there, picturing him signing it, assuming he thought he was signing an album for another fan who loved him and his music.

That was the polar opposite experience from the series of guitars on display that had been used by the Beatles. There were signs telling what albums, songs or promo films the instruments were played on, and by which Beatle. You could take yourself back to that time and imagine what was going on in the studio while they worked on those projects. They even brought in Beatles producer George Martin’s clavichord which was used on the album “Revolver”, a set of chimes used on various Beatles songs which you could play with a stick, and even a sitar which I assume was George’s that you could “play”, sort of. So, you know…happy thoughts.

At the end of the exhibit there is a life-sized poster of the Abbey Road crossing where you can get your picture taken, and of course a ton of merchandise to peruse. Some unique Beatles t-shirts, hats and bags, and even some wicked expensive replica guitars. If you know me, you may not believe that I’ve never been big on Beatles memorabilia. For me, it’s just the music and the history of the band, and you get a load of each with the Magical History Tour. Check it out. Today and for the next few Mondays it is free, but even at the every day admission price of $15, it would be worth seeing. It is family-friendly, and wheelchair accessible.

When we got home I told my wife “You know if we ever went to Liverpool, I’d get out of my wheelchair and drag myself down all those stone steps to see the basement of the Cavern Club right?…But we’ll probably never go there.”

To which she replied “Not with that attitude.”

Write What You Know

Many years ago, I began amateur blogging, not really certain of what the point of it would be or who would read it (I know, that sounds like the first line of every blog anyone has ever started), but doing it in earnest nonetheless.

My first one was all about my life with spina bifida and various issues involved with disabilities. In my community. In America. In the world.

The experience gave me a wide-ranging perspective on myself and others. I’d never known a ton of other people with major disabilities before that. The blog grew in its reach the more I wrote from experience. But more importantly, it grew the more I wrote from a growing inquisitiveness on the subject.

My second just-for-kicks blogging project was even more in earnest. It was a blog about the Hindu religion/culture/community. In my city. In America. In the world and beyond.

It gave me a greater understanding of a culture I had begun to delve into deeply, but had just reached the point where I could fluently share my personal insights on it. In doing so I made connections with some people who mean a great deal to me to this day. It showed me that what I thought of as my “self” was a much more vast inner experience than I’d ever imagined.

Fast forward years later and the next two freelance projects for Dailey Freelance Blogging are for a wheelchair and medical supply shop and for a local international community. Though the material from those original blogs has been dispersed in various ways, the experience remains with me.

Though I come to the wheelchair shop project with a lifetime of experience, I can now confidently say I will “write what I know.”

The Hindu blog was an even more life-changing experience. I learned new customs, systems of thought, new ways of looking at the world. With that background, I can now approach the local international community with a mind that is heavily inclined to opening, and embracing.

Sometimes you don’t know until years later why you took on certain projects with such diligence.