Personal Story – Follow your instincts

Sharon Glassman – Personal Story – Follow your instincts.

The personal story, the beginning. I was thinking about talking to you, and I was thinking about being 10 years old and sitting at my parent’s kitchen table and making a book. I was taking tin foil and coloring pieces of colored paper and making the illustrations and writing the story and being v happy. And that’s what I do now. I mostly just do living stories. So I was trained as a journalist. And when they were telling us, if everything goes well, you’ll be chasing fires at 4 o clock in the morning. I was like, ah, really? I like people. I mean, I appreciate a good fire, but I really like people’s stories and what makes people tick and connecting that to other people because I listen really well, and I think I talk pretty well.

So I went from journalism school to reporting stories on stage. First thing I did was collecting people’s love stories. It’s a pretty common event, but the details were fascinating. I told those on stage. The next thing I did, I discovered a 18th century female physicist in Italy when I was on a trip to Italy. It was the first female professor in Europe. And I was like, well this is a fascinating character. Being a journalist, I went to the library in Italy. And got to look at her letters. 18th century correspondence, and this woman was like the Madonna of her day. She corresponded with Isaac Newton, and she had like 9 kids and she was like awesome. But no one knew about her. So I came back to the stage and started researching female physicists.

And at this point, 1995, in a bulletin board, hot, big thing. I got on this internet bulletin board through a friend of mine who is a mathematician. And I said, I’d like to talk female physicist. And there were a lot in Boston, so I went to Boston. And I interviewed these women, and what was striking was the women in the 1800s in Italy were interested in water. Her thesis was to divide water into 12 parts. And then I meet this one from India at Boston University in 1995, and she’s like, well my research has to do with water. I’m interested in looking at the component parts. It’s like, whoa.

And from there, I wrote back to the bulletin board, you’ve all been so gracious, could I send you my script? They said, well forget the script, come perform at our schools. And I spent the next two years booking a tour online, which again, 1995, this is like Austin powers or whatever. It’s like very online booked performance tour! No one was really doing this, and like, that was amazing. And so I was reaching departments in universities, like the arts department, women’s studies, science. People were going, I’ve seen you on campus! Blimey, you’re Sharon! I’m Bob, I’m a scientist, I’m an artist, we can be friends! But it was great, it was awesome.

And from there, I did a story about a—I was living in New York City in Brooklyn, about a post on this program that collected needy kids’ and families letters to Santa anonymously and gave them to anonymous Santas. And I traveled around the country for almost 10 years, going to people’s living rooms, their corporations, the post office lobby, and telling this very funny but pointed story about fulfilling these letters and getting it all along and realizing that wasn’t it. And that was the book I was telling you about which became this guy. This guy. And went back to print. So this journalism training, stage training, ended up rolling back to a solid print format that tells people how they can do this.

How do you host a party, how do you answer a needy kid’s letter, how do you get into the anonymous giving vibe. So that, in a nutshell, very large nutshell, is how all the pieces fit together. So I hear a story that needs to be told. As a journalist, I research it, as a creative person, I tell it. And now increasingly with music. So it’s… full circle with an add on.