How many of us are fortunate enough to transform our (safe) compulsions/obsessions into the start of a passionate vocation?
After teaching college freshmen all morning and grading their attempts at writing all afternoon, my mind and body scream out for a break. My favorite escape is munching on pastries, washed down by steaming coffee, while catching up with the news at local bakeries/coffeeshops (A sweet tooth? I possess sweet teeth).
Having indulged myself in a baker’s dozen bakeries (“Frosted Monkey,” ” Ambrosia,” “Sweetsmith,” et. al.), I thought, why not share my delicious findings with a local publication? I first approached the weekly and popular Charleston City Paper and they bit! They found my article tasty, published it, and paid me for my purchases and my words.
I established myself as a mainstay of their cuisine section, writing about the town’s resurgent outdoor dining scene and later on the then little-known Filipino food scene. I soon pitched the idea of taking prominent and interesting Charlestonians to their favorite lunchspots and inducing them to reveal a bit about themselves.
I wrote about two stories a month for the next year and met some fascinating people in the process–plus enjoyed some wonderful meals (a real bonus for hungry writers). I have been able to use my ongoing work with the newspaper as a springboard to national magazines; my first two articles are scheduled to appear in the fall.
What has struck me most about the whole affair was how easily I was able to turn a simple pleasure into a feature-length newspaper article, which served as the start of my freelance writing career. Hmm, what’s another compulsion I can capitalize on?
Roy Freedman teaches English at The Citadel and Southern Wesleyan University. He still writes for the CCP while seeking out other markets, focusing on travel and local culture. In addition, he has begun a business called “Write Away!” offering his writing/editing services to individuals and businesses.