Friday, November 17, 2017

Chris Says "So Long" To Political Heat

This isn’t a Goodbye. It’s just, “see you around.”

When I began Political Heat in 2009, it had been with the idea that writing would be my hobby. I’d submit my thoughts to be considered, have people comment on them maybe a few times a month, and hopefully use the site as a springboard into becoming a trusted voice on the left in the state of Wisconsin.

This year, I embarked on a brand new adventure: I began writing as a profession. Freelance writing, like this blog, had always been a “side gig.” But I had the opportunity to make it my full time job, and in March that’s what I did.

I’ve enjoyed doing it since then, and don’t intend to stop. There have been very few downsides to writing as a career, but chief among them has been the neglect of my home site, Political Heat.

The writing has been on the wall for a few months now, especially since the number of blog posts per month I was making had gone down significantly since I started writing elsewhere. Now, it’s time to say goodbye to the site itself, and to put out one last blog post before retiring the site for good.

This doesn’t mean that I’m no longer going to write about state politics. At the end of November, I’m happy to report, I’ll be starting a new project writing for a site that's dedicated to reporting on state issues from around the nation. I’ve been assigned to report on Wisconsin specifically, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

But putting Political Heat to rest is tough. This was the site that helped launch my career as a writer. When applying for side gigs for the past eight years, I’ve used content from this site to demonstrate my writing prowess. And when I was driven to write after incredulous events — when Scott Walker had decided to do something harmful to the state, when legislators insisted that loose gun laws would make us safer, when commentators made bigoted statements about women, people of color, or individuals in the LGBTQ community — this was always a home for my writing.

I liken this move, from one site to another, as analogous to a move from an old house to a new one. I’ve spent a lot of time building this site, promoting it, arranging it, and writing on it. I’ve contributed more than 1,200 blog posts here. I’ve been recognized by local sites like the Cap Times and international ones like the Guardian UK and CBS, have had people reach out to me locally to discuss issues relevant to my posts, have been invited to speak at conferences because of my contribution to citizen journalism, and have made many great blogging friends through my work on this site.

Letting go of Political Heat is the right move at this time. I can dedicate more of my time toward writing projects that will help pay the bills, while at the same time reaching a wider audience, all while still promoting progressive causes in the state and elsewhere. But parting from Political Heat is also a difficult move to make.

I would like add one last thought: if you’re considering starting a blog of your own, even just a little bit, DO IT. Even if it doesn’t take off, even if it’s just a place to hone your writing a little bit, or to vent, or to disseminate your opinion to your friends, even if it's just once a week or once a month, it will become an endeavor that will be beneficial to yourself.

What’s more, the world needs more citizens willing to express their views, and more opinion writers to provide their ideas on how to make their communities better places. Writing and researching the posts at this site have been enjoyable to me. I look forward to continuing that for my next project, which I will announce here soon (look for it in the sidebar in the next week or two).

Lastly, I have many thanks to give. I want to thank my parents, who always encouraged me to never stop learning, and who had a positive comment to give on nearly every post I published. I’d like to thank my brother, too, who did the same, and who gave me his perspectives on the issues whenever he could. I’d like to thank my friends who read this blog, who carried on the conversations offline, even if we sometimes disagreed with some of the finer points. I’d like to thank the Cap Times and WisOpinion for sharing my content elsewhere, bringing my writing to a bigger audience. I’d like to thank the brilliant Journalism and Political Science departments at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I’d like to thank the #wiunion blogging community, who welcomed me in with open arms. I’d like to thank you, the readers, who made this site what it was, who shared its content on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and elsewhere.

And I’d like to thank my wife, who helped me in three major ways: 1) she put up with me writing this blog site in the first place, which sometimes meant me taking a few hours out of the evening to work (and sometimes neglect household chores in the process); 2) she tempered my thoughts when they needed it so that I never wrote angry (well, too angry). She is a tremendous asset as someone I can share my ideas with, and who would give me honest answers on whether I was going too extreme or not; and 3) she always, always told me to keep writing, even when there were weeks when I thought to myself, “no, I shouldn’t do this anymore, what’s the point.” She always picks me up when I'm down on myself as a writer (which all writers do at some point), and she encouraged me to seek out additional projects as time went on. And I want to thank my son for having patience with me during times when I have said, “just five more minutes” to finish a blog post. Thank you both, very much.

Well, that’s it. The show’s over, but the work is never done. Keep fighting for a better Wisconsin. And please, keep reading local journalism.

Thank you,

Chris Walker

P.S. If you’d like to continue to read my thoughts, please follow me on Twitter @thatchriswalker. Please also visit my writing clips site where you can find the various sites I have written over the years, as well as my current projects I’m currently writing for. Oh, and if you have a wedding coming up, I'm an ordained minister! I'd be happy to work with you to help make your wedding day a perfect one (visit my clips site for information on that as well).

Thanks again!

Me, being a nerd