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how many Chowhounds are professional writers?

r
rudysmom Jul 1, 2008 04:12 AM

(i know there's the thread, "What do Chowhounds do for a living," but i didn't want to sift through all 708 responses.)
just curious. part of the reason i love this site has nothing to do with food, but how you write about it. some of you are so, like, eloquent.
i'm mildly jealous and also curious. how many of you get paid to write? how many of you are working on the next bestseller in your spare (or full) time?

  1. edinaeats Jul 1, 2008 05:16 AM

    I'm a full time writer

    1. JungMann Jul 1, 2008 06:42 AM

      I'm a former speechwriter.

      1. c
        Cachetes Jul 1, 2008 06:46 AM

        Though I am not solely a writer, my job requires me to publish articles and books regularly.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cachetes
          l
          Lizard Jul 1, 2008 11:30 AM

          Same here. Unfortunately, my new home does not allow me the joy of eating or foraging and writing about it, so I cannot share my skillz-- written or oral ;) -- with y'all.

        2. MMRuth Jul 1, 2008 06:48 AM

          I'm a lawyer, so, in part, paid to write.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MMRuth
            j
            jenn Jul 2, 2008 09:03 AM

            another lawyer who has to write but only about REALLLY boring stuff like law.......

            1. re: MMRuth
              r
              Rene Erm Jul 3, 2008 08:40 PM

              ditto - another lawyer who writes for a living. At least I get to work in the wine and food country of Walla Walla, WA :.)

            2. j
              Janet from Richmond Jul 1, 2008 07:12 AM

              I have a blog, but obviously am not paid to write that <g>. The only writing I do at work are contracts and the like.

              1. southernitalian Jul 1, 2008 07:36 AM

                I'm an advertising director working for a big company with a small ad budget so technically I get paid to write because if I don't write it, it doesn't get written.

                1 Reply
                1. re: southernitalian
                  b
                  bubbles4me Jul 1, 2008 07:42 AM

                  I work retail, (wine store) but we put out a newsletter for which I write articles and for that I get paid, I also blog but like Janet I don't get paid for that.

                2. m
                  merrymc Jul 1, 2008 07:44 AM

                  I'm a magazine editor and a freelance writer. Though lately it's been getting harder and harder to get money for my writing...

                  1. rockandroller1 Jul 1, 2008 08:28 AM

                    I write for corporate America, which is not fun. I also have a blog but nobody really reads it because it's on Live Journal and not that many people are on there. It's also not JUST about food, in fact, only occasionally is it about food.

                    I haven't had any freelance writing work in years, it's very difficult to get gigs anymore.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: rockandroller1
                      Glencora Jul 1, 2008 10:27 AM

                      My dad wrote wrote for corporate America. (He's retired.) You have my sympathy.

                      1. re: rockandroller1
                        m
                        merrymc Jul 1, 2008 10:30 AM

                        Blame intern mania...we have 30 unpaid interns and 1 full-time writer for the six or so publications here. Why pay for copy when people are falling all over themselves to write it for free?

                        To keep it food-related, I did once interview at a food/wine (not Food + Wine) publication for an associate editor position. At the interview, I learned that the "editor" position was 80% data entry, 20% setting up food and liquor for panel tastings. No writing or editing. Publishing is a weird, sad place.

                        1. re: merrymc
                          rockandroller1 Jul 1, 2008 12:04 PM

                          Well, the quality isn't always there with the interns but I do think there are too many decent writers out there either writing for free ("to get published/to get the publicity") or for peanuts in terms of money. It's up to the writers themselves to think enough of their own work that they won't deliver their services for free, even if that means not working as much. Hence me working in corporate America instead of writing for magazines or something full-time.

                      2. manraysky Jul 1, 2008 08:53 AM

                        I have a steady freelance writing gig, but it's not my main job.

                        1. Glencora Jul 1, 2008 10:23 AM

                          I'm the author of a book of creative nonfiction (gardening), and I've published short stories and nonfiction. (None of this has brought in much in the way of $) And, yes, I'm working on a novel. Or should be. It's awfully hard in the summer with the kid home from school.

                          Writing well about food takes a special talent. I'm not good at it, or maybe I just don't bother. I've been known to spend an entire morning trying to describe wisteria, so I'm not going to spend too much time writing about dinner. However, I do admire others on this site who have the talent and make the effort.

                          1. Sam Fujisaka Jul 1, 2008 12:12 PM

                            Scientist: we have to write quite a bit. It all has to be declarative sentences, concise, no repitition, as straightforward as possible.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                              maria lorraine Jul 1, 2008 09:58 PM

                              Maybe that's why you're so playful on these boards.

                              1. re: maria lorraine
                                Veggo Jul 1, 2008 10:22 PM

                                Sam ? Straightforward? Are you kidding? He's so twisted that when he goes, we'll have to screw him into the ground :)
                                He is a dear friend, and I'm lucky.

                                1. re: Veggo
                                  Sam Fujisaka Jul 1, 2008 10:35 PM

                                  maria lorraine, you just said what I was thinking about adding. Its the contrast between work writing and CH writing that I enjoy. CH lets me ramble on like the old jackass that I am, has let me express opinions and experiences that are just my own for whatever they';re worth, and has given me instant feedback and discourse from all other hounds--so much more fun than waiting for journal editors, peer reviews, making revisions, and the like until eventual publication and the debates and discussions that ensue. Veggo, as you can imagine, I am as we speak raising a toast to you--a Chilean Cab in this case!

                                2. re: maria lorraine
                                  Caroline1 Jul 2, 2008 07:08 AM

                                  Sam's playfulness is a sure sign he's a good scientist. There is a very high correlation between playfulness, creativity, and intelligence. I've known more than my share of scientists in my lifetime in all sorts of disciplines, ranging from astronomy to zoology, and every last one of them is "playful." Some more than others. Ever seen a Richard Feynman lecture? His playfulness makes quantum mechanics sing! Sam, keep up the good work.

                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                    maria lorraine Jul 3, 2008 07:12 PM

                                    Totally agree with about playfulness and creativity and discovery. And I love that you brought up quantum mechanics, one of my favorite subjects. And Richard "Final Theory" Feynman? Wonderful! Love the guy! Bring on the cosmologists!

                                    One tweak: The contrast being made was between Sam's dry, scientific writing and his playful writing here. No one could ever refer to Sam's manner of thinking to be dry! Quite the contrary.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine
                                      j
                                      jlafler Jul 3, 2008 07:15 PM

                                      From what I've heard, Feynman probably would have loved you (both) too. :-)

                              2. BobB Jul 1, 2008 12:28 PM

                                I'm in high tech business development, and part of my job is writing articles for trade journals and papers that I present at technical conferences, so in that sense I'm a professional writer, though probably not of the sort that you meant. But still, having to write for publication probably does make me more practiced at it, and more experienced in self-editing, than someone who only types e-mails to friends.

                                Then again, it could be a chicken and egg thing - I have the job I have in part because I learned long ago how to write, and it's served me well in my career. I spent years as a technical writer when I was first starting out in the business.

                                1. Caroline1 Jul 1, 2008 12:48 PM

                                  I write novels and screenplays.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                    c
                                    charmedgirl Jul 6, 2008 05:10 PM

                                    Do you really? That's awesome.

                                    1. re: charmedgirl
                                      Caroline1 Jul 6, 2008 05:27 PM

                                      Thanks! But in today's market, it's not awesome. It's insanity! '-)

                                  2. s
                                    Stillwater Girl Jul 1, 2008 12:55 PM

                                    I work in Private Banking and write business correspondence daily. I write for fun but no one's paid me for it yet. :) I also have a part-time restaurant gig.

                                    1. t
                                      three of us Jul 1, 2008 12:58 PM

                                      Everyone has a talent and mine is the ability to communicate with highly technically gifted scientists and engineers (what some would call extreme nerds), extract relevant information about their work and write marketing materials. I attribute my success to years of folkdancing at MIT. ;-)

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: three of us
                                        BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jul 1, 2008 10:42 PM

                                        Folkdancing at MIT, you say. Then my wife almost certainly knows you.

                                        This fall will mark 10 years of me making a living solely as a freelance writer. Not necessarily a good living, mind, but then, most of my job consists of sitting around the house listening to records, so obviously there are benefits beyond the paychecks.

                                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                          BobB Jul 2, 2008 05:20 AM

                                          "Folkdancing at MIT, you say. Then my wife almost certainly knows you."

                                          My sister did that too - but it was close to 40 years ago, so probably a different crowd.

                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                            t
                                            three of us Jul 2, 2008 06:27 AM

                                            Best way to keep the mind sharp is Balkan dancing!

                                            The problem with being a writer is everybody thinks, in a pinch, it's something they can do. Therefore a project manager will cut a writer from their team and dash something off themselves. It's not as good as a professional would do but they've got a budget to meet.

                                            I enjoy many chowhound posts for the pure musicality of the prose. Certain words I've read here have become part of my lexicon; most notably "quibble" from our dear limster.

                                            1. re: three of us
                                              BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jul 2, 2008 12:58 PM

                                              Yeah, that's what Allstonian says too: that so many MIT folks become Balkan/English country/Morris dancers because it's all about patterns. So I assume you do Balkan music night in Concord. (Which, to tie into the food aspect of things, REALLY could use an upgrade in its eats!)

                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                t
                                                three of us Jul 2, 2008 01:32 PM

                                                Nine years ago, World Music did a concert of gypsy music which featured singers/musicians from all over Europe. Afterwards, someone invited them to the same hall where Balkan Night is held. The gypsies played from the middle of the floor and everyone danced around them. I had my son in a BabyBjorn and took him up to one of the violinists and the guy played facing him and it was awesome to see the baby mesmerized by the music.

                                                Awesome to do some Balkan to those guys.

                                                And the food was really good. Someone organized a catered buffet and it was the first time I ate well at a dance.

                                                Ah, memories.

                                            2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                              m
                                              merrymc Jul 2, 2008 07:19 AM

                                              I truly envy (and respect) you. I worked as a full-time freelance writer for a few periods in my life, though I headed back to a full-time job whenever my COBRA eligibility drew to a close. It's a tough, tough road to try to get people to pay you for your writing. Cheers, and congratulations!

                                          2. p
                                            patz Jul 1, 2008 01:14 PM

                                            i'm a semi-writer - i'm in academia, so my writing has more to do with french and moroccan history than food, but my interest in history has spilled over into the realm of eating!

                                            1. AnneInMpls Jul 1, 2008 01:52 PM

                                              I'm a freelance technical writer who writes about computer software. But you couldn't tell that I'm a "professional" writer by my misspelled, ungramatical, sloppy posts on chowhound.

                                              Glencora is so right - writing well takes time and energy. It's like when I worked as a janitor - I never cleaned my house. Now that I'm paid to write clearly, I rarely do it on my own time. And when I post on chowhound, I'm usually taking a break because of writer's block, so the verbal side of my brain isn't firing on all cylinders.

                                              I also do user-interface analysis for web sites and online applications. (The Chowhound Team & Engineering can probably tell that by my cranky posts about interface problems and inconsistencies - meant only in love and support, dear chow staff! :-)

                                              Anne

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: AnneInMpls
                                                s
                                                Sharuf Jul 2, 2008 01:10 AM

                                                Hey Anne -- we overlap in the writing territory. I took a break from software development about 20 years ago and did freelance and contract writing on computer subjects for various publications. I kept encountering amazed editors saying "A programmer who can write!".

                                                1. re: Sharuf
                                                  AnneInMpls Jul 3, 2008 10:28 PM

                                                  Sharuf, we're almost mirror images of each other. I'm "a writer who can program." (Or, more accurately, "a writer who used to be able to program" - it has been a long time since I wrote any real code...). But the reverse is better - a programmer who can write is a true treasure!

                                                  Me, I started out getting a computer science degree, but drifted into tech writing because I had more fun doing the comments than writing the code. But I do remember spending lots of time on my "lunch" program - it would suggest places to go, at random, based on my lovingly-created restaurant database. (This was long before chowhound and citysearch and the like...)

                                                  Anne

                                                  1. re: AnneInMpls
                                                    clepro Jul 7, 2008 06:10 PM

                                                    Anne, I keep imagining that this or that fellow diner is you, because our tastes and preferences so often coincide, because you too often seem to be grabbing lunch here and there, and we run in so many of the same routes (ruts, perhaps). And now I find out that you too are a technical writer in the Twin Cities. I'm absolutely certain now that our paths have crossed.

                                                    Although I've been doing much more instructional design than technical writing, lately.

                                              2. s
                                                Sherri Jul 1, 2008 02:23 PM

                                                Mostly I write for my own enjoyment, and have also written for publication. I wrote the text for several courses I taught because I did not like the available textbooks OR there were no texts that addressed what I wanted my students to know.

                                                What I like best is to write for pure joy and have that picked up because someone else likes my work.
                                                NB: it is mainly, but not exclusively, food-related. I hate hate hate to write a formal recipe because no matter how carefully it is tested, no matter how precisely it is written, there will always be "kitchen knowledge" required for best execution. "Glugs" "pinches" "dollops" "a bit" are my terms and make some editors nervous. My food-writing is story-telling with loose recipe suggestions and a lot of humor.

                                                1. danhole Jul 1, 2008 02:37 PM

                                                  I am not a professional writer, yet I have written many different things since I was a child. From short stories, speeches for my DH to deliver, a weekly column (that also was supposed to be written by the DH), puppet scripts for children's theater, poetry, special prayers, inspirational articles, and I have started a novel, but don't know when I will ever finish it. I also have to occasionally write copy for the Advertising firm I freelance with. My co worker won't send a letter to anyone if I don't write it for her. I can communicate with the written word in a way I could never do actually talking to someone. If you sat down with me face-to-face, you might think I was a blithering idiot. LOL! My family always dreads it when I write them letters, which I only do when I am really concerned about certain situations, or to get my point across. They say that the letters cut through all the crap, and that makes them uncomfortable, but they DO get the point far better than they do when I just talk to them! I have yet to be paid to write, but I can dream . . . sigh!

                                                  1. ElsieDee Jul 1, 2008 04:29 PM

                                                    Freelance technical writer / editor specializing in science and engineering documents (lots of stuff for the space program, technology research, etc.) - and freelance grant writing for non-profits, when I have the time (it's volunteer work, for the most part).

                                                    1. Gooseberry Jul 1, 2008 04:47 PM

                                                      I'm a freelance journalist, focusing on food issues. A relatively new change in careers, so I'm by no means an expert at this stage!

                                                      Funny thing is, writing about food is the easy - and fun - part. Selling your ideas (no, even the good ones don't sell themselves!), networking, finding sympathetic editors who actually return emails, dealing with loneliness and getting paid enough to live on (let alone travel and eat out on) are problematic, however.

                                                      And in terms of envy, I feel it too. When I read a great article I wish I'd written, and even when I read good stuff I KNOW I couldn't have written! Just because I can write about food sadly doesn't mean I can write plays or fiction. Much like I wouldn't go to a proctologist for neurosurgery. Well, not unless I had a strange sense of humour and a death wish....

                                                      1. Veggo Jul 1, 2008 05:12 PM

                                                        Macroeconomic analysis; the most dismal of sciences. Cathartic and lesser-paying relief is The Washington Post Style Invitational, and here. Once in Time Magazine. I enjoy "Bad Hemingway" competitions, which are fiercely competitive, (and pay), but I have not been bad enough to win a major.

                                                        1. a
                                                          antrobin Jul 1, 2008 08:40 PM

                                                          My day job is writing instructor and academic advisor, and I do my own academic research and writing. I also have a regular freelance gig that pays better than my academic job...

                                                          1. j
                                                            jlafler Jul 1, 2008 09:31 PM

                                                            Medical writer, currently out of the workforce.

                                                            1. chef chicklet Jul 2, 2008 07:50 AM

                                                              Nah not me...this is just my cooking diary and journal. A place where my make believe friends humor me and tell me how pretty my food looks or how delicious the recipe. I am so needy.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: chef chicklet
                                                                Veggo Jul 2, 2008 08:24 AM

                                                                And we do love you, oh needy one, just for what you are.

                                                                1. re: Veggo
                                                                  chef chicklet Jul 2, 2008 01:51 PM

                                                                  why thank you veggo! ( I really needed that, today...)

                                                              2. c
                                                                ChesterhillGirl Jul 2, 2008 08:06 AM

                                                                I'm a computer software technical writer who specializes in medical subject matter. I write occasionally about other topics (mostly book reviews) for non-profit newsletters, Web sites, and the like.

                                                                1. hannaone Jul 2, 2008 08:15 AM

                                                                  1. I once wrote Operating Instructions (OI) for the military.

                                                                  1A. Operating Instructions (OI) were to be written clearly and consicely at a reading level commensurate with applicable standards.

                                                                  1B. Operating Instructions (OI) were to be written as a supplement to standard regulations, containing guidance and instruction as related to the local implementation of such regulations.

                                                                  2. In order to write acceptable Operating Instructions, the author must be thouroughly familiar with all requirements as set forth in applicable directives, as well as familiar with local conditions, available resources, manpower requirements, and local vulnerabilities.

                                                                  3. Does this count?

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: hannaone
                                                                    Eat_Nopal Jul 2, 2008 12:42 PM

                                                                    Oh god.. I pity you. I often (when times are good) right proposals for sizeable IT Projects... or respond to RFPs... sometimes from Government entities... the formats are a pain in the culo.

                                                                    Other times I am writing up Process Re-enginnering & Solution type documents.. much more fun... especially because I get to monkey around with Visio Flowcharts etc.,... but it all gets boring which is why I come bs on CH!

                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                      hannaone Jul 2, 2008 05:31 PM

                                                                      It definitely was not the highpoint of my military days.

                                                                  2. Scagnetti Jul 2, 2008 09:22 AM

                                                                    I'm not a writer but I've always been impressed with the level of writing on this site. Back in the "old days", when threads were more board-concentrated, it was rather daunting for a newcomer to weigh in because posts were so well written.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Scagnetti
                                                                      pilinut Jul 5, 2008 11:45 PM

                                                                      I remember those days! There were quite a few flaming sessions that revolved around spelling and grammar on the SF Board.

                                                                    2. Scargod Jul 2, 2008 12:11 PM

                                                                      Where's "Passa-man" when we need him? I speak of Marco 'The Explorer" dumkeg. This literary garage sale on wheels is quite well-read and must have written stuff...
                                                                      Me, I've written technical stuff and been paid to do it. I wrote my company's employee handbook and many technical and procedural documents. I've written for seminars I've done, essentially gratis (airfare and accommodations paid for).
                                                                      I've lived with a published, short-story writer...and sat in on, and cooked for, her writer's group's meetings.
                                                                      There is a big difference in being published and being a professional writer. I find writing here a pleasurable outlet. As I've said,"I wished I could get paid to do this", meaning reviews of restaurants. As an artist, I see writing as another art form where there are too many people willing to do it for free. Some good, some "not so much"!

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Scargod
                                                                        b
                                                                        brendastarlet Jul 2, 2008 12:50 PM

                                                                        I'm an author and a professor.

                                                                        1. re: brendastarlet
                                                                          Scargod Jul 2, 2008 03:47 PM

                                                                          Ah, a professorial writer! You must be well punished!

                                                                          I have a Life Experience Equivalency Degree from the School of Hard Knox.

                                                                          1. re: Scargod
                                                                            BobB Jul 3, 2008 04:51 AM

                                                                            Would that be overly congealed gelatin?

                                                                            1. re: BobB
                                                                              b
                                                                              brendastarlet Jul 3, 2008 09:50 AM

                                                                              LOL. I don't do it for the money (good thing, too.)

                                                                      2. s
                                                                        susan1353 Jul 2, 2008 01:00 PM

                                                                        I've been writing on and off most of my professional life for newspapers, magazines and newsletters. Now I write fundraising appeals. But food will always be my first love.

                                                                        1. romansperson Jul 2, 2008 01:10 PM

                                                                          I started my professional life as a journalist for a daily newspaper and then segued into a PR/graphic arts position in which I wrote an awful lot of newsletters, press releases and promotional material. I also spent a couple years writing a newsletter for a small but thoroughly lovely wine shop, which sadly closed due to an embezzlement issue on the part of one of the owners ... I miss that place.

                                                                          I now work in IT and get to write/update technical manuals a couple times a year (zzzz, but it pays the bills better than anything I've done so far).

                                                                          1. s
                                                                            soupkitten Jul 2, 2008 02:08 PM

                                                                            i have a bfa in creative writing & worked in an editorial/proofing capacity for a literary publisher, which along with my time in music conservatory, prepared me well to be a bartender for 10 years. a few years back i destroyed several manuscripts and thought that i'd be able to have a normal life. unfortunately i now work in a kitchen. i have to write menus and recipes and correspondence and f*&k-all, and before i knew what i was doing i started doing outlines & text for cookbooks. argh. now i will eventually have to finish these, or torch my server. i like chowhound because the average poster has read more than five books and it shows. i'd like to write a novel based on real life in hospitality work, cooking & agriculture ( but i think i will need to have several more folks on payroll before i commit to it).

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: soupkitten
                                                                              The Dairy Queen Jul 4, 2008 03:46 AM

                                                                              You destroyed several manuscripts! soupkitten, you're only supposed the first one out! As they say, novels are like pancakes, you always throw the first one out.

                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                s
                                                                                soupkitten Jul 4, 2008 09:35 AM

                                                                                LMAO! well, when you've had a stack of 'em sitting there for a while, and they're all cold and soggy from syrup, you stand over them with your fork and just don't know where to start-- ack. throw 'em to the squirrels and start over! ;~)

                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                  pilinut Jul 5, 2008 11:47 PM

                                                                                  But the first pancake has the most butter cooked into it!

                                                                                  1. re: pilinut
                                                                                    Caroline1 Jul 5, 2008 11:58 PM

                                                                                    That's why I don't call it the "trash pancake." I call it the cook's pancake! Especially with crepes!

                                                                                    1. re: pilinut
                                                                                      s
                                                                                      Sharuf Jul 6, 2008 11:34 PM

                                                                                      I thought it was just waffles where you threw the first one out.

                                                                                2. t
                                                                                  thebordella Jul 2, 2008 05:55 PM

                                                                                  Full time writer: comedy -- print, web, and script; technology, journals and mass media.

                                                                                  Part time eater: would go full time, but doctor recommends against it.

                                                                                  1. LindaWhit Jul 2, 2008 06:34 PM

                                                                                    I was trained as an executive secretary at Katharine Gibbs back in the late 1970s, but my mother and both grandmothers were English/Speech teachers. So I grew up knowing (and being corrected until I knew!) how to speak/write properly. One of my roles in my current company is as final proofreader for proposals, presentations, and the like.

                                                                                    1. oldbaycupcake Jul 2, 2008 08:19 PM

                                                                                      Started out as a political speechwriter but now I'm a Training Manager/Consultant in the restaurant industry. I get paid to write presentations, training and operations materials, all of which are super exciting! I've also had several articles published on issues that are of interest to the franchise and food industries. Working on a book in my spare time.

                                                                                      1. othervoice Jul 2, 2008 09:44 PM

                                                                                        I too, spent many years writing and editing for various publishers. We produced mostly technical publications, but occasionally we would deal with the small time authors trying to get their point across. I love food and love to read about it. I've enjoyed many of you and how articulate you can be when discussing my favorite subject. I spent several years writing menus for a publisher and I absolutely loved it. I learned alot about food from that job.

                                                                                        1. t
                                                                                          TerriL Jul 2, 2008 09:49 PM

                                                                                          I'm another former speechwriter. Now I split my time between freelance corporate writing and fiction (sometimes there's not much difference).

                                                                                          1. kawarthagirl Jul 3, 2008 12:55 PM

                                                                                            I publish a community newspaper and a couple of annual magazines - so I'm a writer in the sense that I'm also editor / designer / layout person and the one who makes coffee. Oddly enough, my articles sail through the editorial process and EVERY ONE of my submissions makes it into the final cut... Can't figure out why that keeps happening! Does it pay? Yes... Enough? No... Does anything we really enjoy really pay? Probably not... :)

                                                                                            1. pikawicca Jul 3, 2008 01:07 PM

                                                                                              I used to be a technical writer (boring), but these days write about food for the local newspaper (fun).

                                                                                              1. Will Owen Jul 3, 2008 03:02 PM

                                                                                                I worked as a graphic artist/designer, and used to write and edit newsletters for my neighborhood organization and my Alfa Romeo club. Then we moved to SoCal, and while I was looking for work (mostly in vain) I expended the bulk of my writing urges on these boards, plus a Creative Writing course at PCC that was pretty much fun... Anyway, when I found myself eligible for Social Security benefits, which as it happened paid exactly what I'd been making at my last job, I said, Okay, I'm retired. And then some friends bought a bookstore that had among its properties a monthly magazine, called The Automotive Calendar of Events. And since we had recently done a car deal, and they knew I did design work and desktop publishing, they asked me to re-design the thing (which it very badly needed), and to consider publishing it. At this point I mentioned that I can write fairly well, and am a very good editor (at least of other people's stuff!), and they were SO happy to hear that because neither of them particularly likes to do either of those things, at least not on deadline. So all of a sudden I wasn't really retired anymore, and as far as the Motor Press Guild is concerned I am in fact a professional writer! And just to tie everything up together, that picture I use as my avatar is the one I laminated onto my MPG Press card...

                                                                                                1. purple goddess Jul 3, 2008 08:53 PM

                                                                                                  Nurse and frustrated author here... yes, there IS a manuscript in the attic.

                                                                                                  And I blog.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: purple goddess
                                                                                                    maria lorraine Jul 3, 2008 09:21 PM

                                                                                                    Well, your posts here are hilarious. Darl.

                                                                                                  2. m
                                                                                                    mtbwustl Jul 3, 2008 11:11 PM

                                                                                                    My job includes writing many college recommendation letters, several newsletter articles, five or six hour-long presentations, and a few major reports a year. Sometimes I'm a straight-forward reporter, sometimes a raconteur, and occasionally a fiction writer.

                                                                                                    1. steamer Jul 4, 2008 02:29 AM

                                                                                                      I am a full time freelance writer and editor based in Tokyo, for years I wrote a food column in the IHT-Asahi Shimbun, and I worked for a year as an editor in a really screwed up publishing house in Tokyo. I don't think freelance writing was ever a lucrative gig but things seem especially tough in Tokyo these days. Just hanging on now trying to build more TV news and specials work to keep a roof over my head.

                                                                                                      1. The Chowhound Team Jul 4, 2008 09:01 AM

                                                                                                        Hi:

                                                                                                        We've left this thread up, as we did the one on "What do Chowhounds do for a living", because it is of interest to posters, but general discussions about freelance writing and other kinds of writing are really just too far afield for Chowhound, and we've removed them. Please keep the replies responsive to the OP's question, so that we don't have to remove other digressions.

                                                                                                        Thanks.

                                                                                                        Happy Fourth of July to all who celebrate it!

                                                                                                        1. thew Jul 4, 2008 09:12 AM

                                                                                                          i'm barely published poet, and not-yet published fiction writer

                                                                                                          i did get my best rejection ever though recently, from the new yorker

                                                                                                          1. David A. Goldfarb Jul 6, 2008 12:09 AM

                                                                                                            Another academic here. I write mostly about Polish and Russian literature and literary theory, primarily for an academic audience, but occasionally I write introductions to popular editions of literary works.

                                                                                                            I have something of a fascination for recipes that appear in literary texts that are not about food, but I haven't gotten around to publishing anything on that topic.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: David A. Goldfarb
                                                                                                              Caroline1 Jul 6, 2008 12:28 AM

                                                                                                              When you do, let us know! And I hope you list page numbers, or at least chapters, where the recipes can be found. It's such a drag having to search through a whole novel trying to find it.

                                                                                                              1. re: David A. Goldfarb
                                                                                                                t
                                                                                                                three of us Jul 6, 2008 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                I have a cookbook "The Joyce of Cooking" which is a compilation of recipes mentioned in the writings of James Joyce.

                                                                                                                I bought it only because my name is Joyce (blush) but it made for a very cool read.

                                                                                                              2. w
                                                                                                                weem Jul 7, 2008 12:07 AM

                                                                                                                First time I ever got paid for my writing was back in my college days when I sold a joke to Joan Rivers. And no, I'm not going to tell it to you, because I signed a long, fine-print contract saying the joke was hers now. Got a whopping $10 for it. (And no, I've never heard her say it.) :-)

                                                                                                                These days I do some playwrighting on the side, and I've been paid for a couple of the plays I've written.

                                                                                                                1. clepro Jul 7, 2008 06:18 PM

                                                                                                                  I've made my living writing since the very early 80s. Technical writing, instructional design, and medical writing for web, video, print. I've done a fair amount of general article freelancing and editorial work too.

                                                                                                                  1. MSPD Jul 9, 2008 02:54 PM

                                                                                                                    Count me in and thank goodness because I'm boring as hell when I talk. For some reason my most creative thoughts just flow out of the keyboard. Maybe it's that split-second where I can hone and edit my thoughts. I wear out a whole lot of "Backspace" keys.

                                                                                                                    Most of my writing is done in a corporate environment which is excruciating. I've done the instructional design thing, the proposal writing, marketing communications, multimedia junk, white papers and so on. My favorite writing job was doing TV sports news for the local ABC affiliate but I had to go and ruin that by choosing the conventional nature and security of a corporate job. Blech.

                                                                                                                    I really appreciate the existence of Chowhound as a great creative outlet and I'll echo the appreciation others have stated for all of the really creative and brilliant folks on here. Although I do miss cabrales from the old days...talk about someone who loved to write!

                                                                                                                    1. Passadumkeg Jul 9, 2008 07:09 PM

                                                                                                                      I had a joke published in Boy's Life! An article in Middle School Journal. A letter to the editor in Norwegian in Oslo's Aftenposten protesting the government's price increase of beer. I used to write for a small Maine island monthly newspaper. I am active on poets against the war.org, keep a poetry journal and sporadically work on the ubiquitous Viet Nam novel, more cathartic than good. My mom was an English teacher and used to tear my stuff apart, so I find writing difficult. And due to a VN injury, typing is tough too.
                                                                                                                      But most importantly, I teach English and every single writing assignment, poetry, prose, essay or term paper, I write the assignment as well as a way of modeling. It's a lot of work, but I feel it is a very effective method to demonstrate not only style but my commitment to the writing process as well. etc., etc. etc.
                                                                                                                      As the teacher asked of Zoba, "Teach me to dance."

                                                                                                                      1. s
                                                                                                                        stitchwitch Jul 14, 2008 06:56 AM

                                                                                                                        I work for non-profits most of the time and write newsletters, articles, speeches, etc. I also have a part-time job as a free-lance writer for small weekly newspaper. If I were more organized would have blog or at least be writing stories for my family, since they are an unending source of comedy.

                                                                                                                        1. Bob W Jul 14, 2008 09:46 AM

                                                                                                                          I am yet another lawyer who gets paid to write.

                                                                                                                          I have four-year-old twins so my spare time is, as they say, limited. My bestsellers are all in my head (and believe me, there's gold in there, Jerry!)

                                                                                                                          1. mariyum Jul 15, 2008 04:04 PM

                                                                                                                            I'm a magazine and Web journalist and write books; used to be a newspaper reporter. Don't write about food, sadly, at least not for pay. Foodborne disease, on the other hand, I'm your girl. (Heh.) And I blog, most recently about MRSA in the food chain.

                                                                                                                            1. TheFoodGuy Jul 16, 2008 05:19 AM

                                                                                                                              I'm just a teacher :) .... with a love for food :)

                                                                                                                              1. g
                                                                                                                                gfr1111 Jul 29, 2008 12:29 PM

                                                                                                                                I'm a lawyer who is paid to write legal briefs, motions, appeals, etc. I used to be a high school English teacher. I write on the Chowhound boards because it is fun, and what other people write is interesting. I have learned so much from these boards. For me, cooking is a passion and writing a vocation.

                                                                                                                                1. mrbozo Jul 29, 2008 12:38 PM

                                                                                                                                  I write copy and translate text from French to English. I also write poetry when I'm poor enough or a relationship has failed. Can't understand why I get paid more for the former than the latter. Then again that may be a key to me understanding why my life has been the way it's been. Hmmm ... (mutter mutter) ...

                                                                                                                                  1. c
                                                                                                                                    crewsweeper Jul 29, 2008 01:01 PM

                                                                                                                                    Aints no ritah cheer. Jest like ta eat.

                                                                                                                                    Great thread folks. somebody spin this off into a short or novella, "The Man Who Ate His Words".

                                                                                                                                    crew

                                                                                                                                    1. NYCkaren Jul 29, 2008 02:38 PM

                                                                                                                                      I am a staff writer for a news organization. Once in a while I even get to write about food.

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