Thursday, June 4, 2009

Will ____ For Food, or Have a Gob Day

For the last twenty plus years, my professional motto has been "Will Write For Food." Somewhere in that mission statement you could've added the words "About Food or Music or Fashion." For the better part of the last decade, though, my writing has primarily focused on topics relating to food and the kitchen. It earned me a modest living at best, but I enjoyed my work thoroughly. 

Unfortunately, in the last six months or so, my motto, "Will Write For Food" hasn't put very much of it - food that is - on the table. Like many others employed in a variety of industries I've watched as the outlets and opportunities in my line of work became smaller. Newspapers and magazines have been vanishing and those that have survived this recession have cut their staffs, and their publications' page counts, dramatically. With fewer freelance jobs to be had an already-crowded pool is over-capacity as writers and editors who once held masthead positions are now in the same waters as the self-employed. 

The question this situation raised for me wasn't "sink or swim," but rather "get out or stay in?" Abandoning a freelance career entirely wouldn't be wise. People need to see your content, and your byline, regularly. (Isn't that one of the top five tips on which even new bloggers are schooled?) Besides, the stories coming back from the front-lines from colleagues who'd ventured into the job market weren't encouraging. After sending in writing samples and a resume, one friend, a well-respected editor, was placed on a waiting list for an interview. At Starbucks. 

If one of the busiest franchises in the country was being squeezed by the recession, this didn't bode well for finding employment anywhere. I decided rather than search in vain for something that might not pay off, I'd be better off creating my own opportunities. In assessing my marketable skills beyond the obvious, I started to see some possibilities in my cooking skills (previous post aside, natch.) 

An old maxim of marketing advises those with something to sell to find a niche and fill it. So I have. With butter cream, sugar and so far, a lot of smiles. 

Dear readers, I have found Gob. And I'm not embarrassed to admit it.

As some of you may recall, earlier this spring I went in search of the recipe for one of my favorite childhood treats, The Gob. I found a recipe, but the resulting confection wasn't quite what I recalled eating as a kid. I thought with a little culinary tweaking, and some fresher ingredients, I could improve upon the wheel. Arrogant? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely. And I'm happy to report that I succeeded. But what now? I had these incredible-tasting treats, but as long as they stayed in my kitchen nothing was accomplished. My waistline was becoming more visible but my byline remained unseen. 

So it was with some nervousness and even more desperation that I took to the streets to add my two baked cents to what turned out to be - inadvertently, I swear - a highly publicized street food vendor scene. I was hoping to generate a bit of a buzz through the gobs that would then bring my byline back into circulation. Instead, I seem to have succeeded in getting more attention for the gobs than I did for myself. 

Where's this leading? I'm not sure. The gobs are enjoying a life of their own, and really, who am I to stop them? In a bizarre twist I noticed the other day that one of their new followers on Twitter was an editor to whom I'd pitched some story ideas to barely four months back. This editor was now unemployed. 

Times are tough, but the treats are sweet. Might as well ride it all out on a sugar high. And I know just the place for you to get the hook-up. See you at gobba gobba hey dot com.

(A quick shout out to Amuse Bouche, Sexy Soup Cart, Cookie Wag, Urban Nectar, Creme Brulee Cart, Magic Curry Cart and all the others who've been so welcoming. Thanks for the support and especially the inspiration! Oh. And Free The Soup!) 


The Duo Dishes said...

Great job getting this off the ground! It's a big, big deal and a success. You've got folks gob hungry!

Steven said...

You guys are so kind, and if you lived here you know I'd bake you a batch! Thanks for the friendship and support! It means a lot.

Charles G Thompson said...

Wow! I go away for a couple weeks and look what happens!? Congrats on the gob cart launch/venture. Guess I'll be putting in an order to have some delivered so I can see what a god tastes like. Very cool indeed.

Miranda said...

I love your writing. I would love to read your book.
Don't worry you will be successful with writing talent like that. Don't give up. Good luck.

I have never had a Gob, but that looks amazing.

Steven said...

Thanks, Miranda! It's a tough time and it seems that everyone's in the same boat - there are so many good writers and so many good cooks out there it's hard to get noticed let alone stay employed! But I'm not losing heart, just more hair! LOL! :(

Table Talk said...

I have to say I have never heard of/ had a Gob...they sound really good! Looks like you have created an entrepreneurial opportunity during this crazy time in the publishing world.

Steven said...

Charles, I'm sorry I'm replying out of order here, but thank you! Let me know if you're up here and you can sample the free wares! Welcome back, looking forward to reading more from your trip. Excellent food travel diary thus far, btw. Keep up the amazing work!

Steven said...


Thank you for the good wishes. Desperate times, desperate measures. I've got those other things in the works that you and I discussed but I really needed to get something happening quickly. This is such a bizarre business these days. Thanks for always being so supportive (and if you're here for your book tour, let me know and I'll bring along some gob samples for you!)

Ann said...

You mean the Whoopie pie? I'm hungry. Wish you success with your writing :)