The job itself is a joy. I love writing stories about inspiring dishes and people, sharing their tales, and learning about new cultures. Of course, when I post on Food GPS, I have total control, while writing for other publications means letting go, a process that occasionally requires some mental gymnastics to live with the results. The editing stage has the power to either bolster or deflate my words. I could easily write a whole screed about journalism’s changing business climate and the challenges to keep my career choice sustainable, but I’m currently more focused on the potential highs. Below, I break down dream results for my food writing, and since I’m not a total Pollyanna, touch on aspects that give me anxiety.
1) That my writing impacts lives, either bringing more business to people that seemingly warrant a wider audience or simply leading diners to memorable food they wouldn’t have enjoyed otherwise.
2) That my writing educates or entertains readers. My words and photos have the power to be pretty convincing, but I still understand most readers will never follow through and actually visit the restaurants I recommend. At least they’ll have fun reading or get a better understanding for a different culture’s food.
3) That I have an editor who pushes me to tighten the screws on my writing, making the story better, and teaches me enduring lessons on how to communicate in more concise and effective ways. I don’t mind constructive feedback and working harder to achieve better results.
Of course, food writing can also keep me up at night. Considering the process involves so many moving parts and people, the results can take unexpected turns. I occasionally agonize about getting something wrong, whether that’s an ingredient, misspelling or worst of all, something culturally insensitive that I never considered. Editors can also make mistakes, but errors on both sides are typically easy to correct in this digital age, and even when they remain for posterity, I can generally live with the consequences. Finally, I still have countless stories to tell, and would rather focus on new opportunities to share them than get bogged down by factors out of my control.