Food Writers Write On

Chef Magazine digital coverI’ve been writing a regular column, The Last Word, for Chef magazine for 11 years. Here is my most recent article, “Bigger & Getting Smaller.” The publication has just gone digital, and is wonderfully easy to navigate. (My piece is on the last page.)

I am fascinated and awed by the astounding technology changes taking place in every field. Publishing too, has been revolutionized. A library in San Antonio doesn’t contain a single book! Every word is online.

Perhaps even more stunning is the prospect that new students will be issued a tablet preloaded with all the required textbooks, including how-to videos, and links to even further expand their information.

(I am guessing that all the instructors’ class outlines and syllabi for each class will be embedded too!) Gone are the days when we all carried heavy backpacks to and from school.

Among the silver clouds and shiny innovations there are some sad adverse effects. Those who have jobs as typesetters, printers, warehouse keepers and truckers are threatened. Gone are many full-time editors, proof readers, fact checkers, indexers, designers and art directors. Many of these pre-publication tasks are now parceled out to freelancers who toil at home without the benefit of benefits.

Books are returnable, so the truckers are among the few in the publishing business who actually make any money. They deliver books to struggling bookstores and carry all the unsold books back to the warehouse where they languish in remainder limbo.

The good news for writers is we can all write.

And, publish our work instantly.

We can make up our own rules for grammar and use creative spellings as the fancy takes us. We no longer need to grind our teeth to stumps in response to the demands of cruel and insensitive editors, who fail to sing our praises of  originality. Instead of fearing rejection letters, we can now boldly write whatever we choose to write.

Of course, selling our work and earning a few pennies is an entirely different matter. Even professional food writers often must hobble together careers as creative writing teachers and seize whatever other opportunities that can be assembled to keep a roof over our heads.