As the cliche goes: “Find a job that you love, and you will never have to work in your life.” Writing is something that I did not know I was good at until one of my political science professors— one who at one point threatened to flunk me— invited me to join an essay writing contest during the Christmas holidays. I had to beg off since we would be out of town, and I would not have been able to give it the focus it deserved, but it did give me the direction I needed. I decided not to go to law school, much to my father’s dismay and confusion (he bribed me with my own apartment if I went to law school, to which I replied “don’t waste your money, Dad”). I have decided I wanted to be a food writer.
I learned that it was something I cannot rush— I had to earn my chops. A friend encouraged me to start a food blog, which is what got my restaurant reviews and food stories out there. In 2008, digital platforms were on the rise, and an editor discovered my blog and asked me if I wanted to be a contributor. That was the beginning of my professional career as a writer, which led me to a short stint as the managing editor of a food magazine, and now while enjoying family life while I work from home as a freelance writer contributing to various titles and providing content for food-related websites.
How did I do it? As with any endeavour, it takes a lot of patience and humility. I do not consider myself competitive— I am only in contention with myself, and I challenge myself to keep getting better at what I do. I believe in the merits of hard work and putting in the time, and I feel that my efforts have been rewarded so far. To those who share similar passions, I say just go for it. As the Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus said: “If you want to be a writer, write.” That is the only way to get the ball rolling. And once you do, here are a few reminders that might come in handy on your journey.
1. Read. A lot.
I read for fun, to be inspired, and to learn from those who came before me. From childhood, I have discovered the joys of reading and preferred the silence of the library over horsing around during recess. We always had a selection of daily broadsheets at home, and magazines (from the local gossip rags to international fashion bibles) always came with the groceries. When I am writing and suddenly feeling stuck (which will happen more often than you expect), reading somebody else’s good work is the lubricant that gets my creative juices flowing.