Thursday 7 January 2010

Money, money, money

Serious hat on this morning at a sub-committee meeting about how Travcom might persuade its members not to get sucked in to giving their work away to publications. It's happening more and more, as newspapers and magazines have their budgets cut and are saying no to buying travel stories and images (not, it seems, news stories, features and columns from freelancers - just travel).

It's a hard one, especially for new writers eager to see their work in print, but not only does it devalue what they've spent time and effort producing, it's also dangerous in that how do they later persuade an editor to start paying for something they've let them have for free? Plus, those of us who are trying to make some sort of a living from travel writing (and believe me, that's the best we can hope for) are being undercut.

Those people who agree to no payment are selling themselves short and missing out - yes, it's a thrill to see your words/photos in print; but even better is to be paid for it, because money talks, and what it's saying is that you're a professional writer. And that's worth even more than the fee.

Which is why, and it has nothing to do with being anal, I have this photocopy of the first cheque I ever earned from writing.

For this:

>>> The fastest and best way to get your finger on the pulse of another country is to browse along the supermarket aisles. That's where you can get the real inside story on the natives, because here is what goes in their insides.

The yin and yang of life in the American interior are clearly represented by, on one hand, the carboys of luridly-coloured, premixed peanut butter and jelly, piled-high packets of sugar-encrusted cereals, buckets of popped corn and ready-assembled hamburgers requiring only a quick nuke to top up those flagging cholesterol and MSG levels; and, on the other, by shelf after shelf of haemorrhoid preparations.

...Only in France, of course, is the cheese department vast, central and easily located by even the visually-challenged. There, serious ladies wielding cleavers slice accurate wedges from huge rounds (though much fun is to be had in asking for 200g of Parmesan, which must be hacked from rock-hard lumps). The glass cases of jewel-like patisserie, frequently-replenished bins of baguettes and long shelves of no-nonsense bottles of wine could be found nowhere else.

....Anyone with the slightest acquaintance of the Kiwi lifestyle would recognise a New Zealand supermarket straight away, simply by spotting the joint presence of individual meat pies, packs of hogget chops, family-sized pump dispensers of sunblock, tubs of chlorine tablets and a sufficiently comprehensive arsenal of insecticides to create the uncomfortable impression that pestilence is not confined to the Bible...

[Pub. NZ Herald 30/6/99]


Erin said...

I love the thought of browsing the supermarket aisles to get an idea of the country. I believe it also works for cities and towns, as well. What I might find in the grocery store in my small town can be entirely different from the grocery store in a big city, and I find it fascinating.
Those pastries look amazing..

TravelSkite said...

Welcome, Erin! Yes, and trolley etiquette and operation can be enlightening, too - and good preparation for getting out on the roads...


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