Friday, July 10, 2009

Sometimes it's fun: Writing about fortune cookies and halloween

I moan a lot on this blog about the challenges of trying to make a living as a freelance writer. I complain about low pay, unresponsive editors and publishers who always seem to make the worst possible decisions.

But then you take on an assignment that's actually fun. And everything seems worthwhile again.

That's happening now. I'm writing a series of short, short fact-based stories for a Chicago-area publisher. The stories will appear in a book of useless trivia. What could be more fun than useless trivia? I love useless trivia. In fact, I can tell you every baseball World Series winner since 1926, and every SuperBowl winner ever. And I can do it all in correct order.

To stick to the topic, though ... I'm writing about the history of fortune cookies and digging up interesting trivia about Halloween. The fortune cookie bit's pretty fun. Did you know that fortune cookies weren't even started in China? In fact, hardly anyone in China eats or serves fortune cookies. In the United States, though, 3 billion fortune cookies are produced each year. And did you know that Illinois, of all states, produces the most pumpkins every year? Or that the witch is the most popular costume choice among adults, with pirates second? Did you know that 90 percent of parents admit to sneaking candy from their children's trick-or-treat bags?

Now you do. And I do, too.

These stories are fun to write. They're easy. And they pay well.

It's easy to get down on this industry. But it's hard these days to think of any industry that's exactly thriving. An engineering friend of mine has to take 10 unpaid days off this year. Another friend of mine, who works for the city of Chicago, has to take 15 unpaid days off. A third friend works in the banking industry and is hanging onto his job for dear life.

Writing is stressful these days. But unlike most jobs, it can actually be fun at times.


  1. Hi, I just found your blog. Good stuff. I especially like how you've gotten away with posting your suite101 earnings because you don't use your real name.

    Suggestion: Can you add the "tags/label" widget to make it more easy to find your posts related to a particular content mill?

    If not, that's cool. I'll still read.

  2. Hi, Eve:

    Thanks for your kind comments. I do appreciate them. I'm a bit disappointed with Suite 101. My earnings seem to be going down these days, though I don't know if it's because of the summer. We'll see.

    I think I will add the "tags/label" widget.

    Thanks again,