Back in 2000, as a freelance writer I was retained by Newsday for a year-long series that was to run in the paper every day. They were calling it “Names of New York.” It involved research and history — a perfect love match for my interests. Newsday provided me with a long list of New York-based streets, landmarks, bridges, highways, and my job was to research and write about their name origins. The articles, which you can find under “Pages” here, looked like this:
It was a sweet gig and you know what made it even better?
One day, while the “Names of New York” series was running, I received a call, out of the blue — an offer to write a book. On Queens, where I grew up. The publisher? Yale University Press. Seriously. That turned into an amazing, interesting and grueling four-year project but the result was my first book and two nods by The New York Times — once when it was released in hardcover and later when it came out in paperback.
Fast forward to 2013 and many great assignments in between — I’m now on another fascinating research/writing project, this time for Parade Magazine’s website, Parade.com. Expanding on my much earlier “Names of New York” work for Newsday, I’m now writing a weekly “Names of America” column. Research…history…love!
And so kids, the point of this story is clear– yes, freelancing is often a biatch, but once in a while, one plum assignment lays the foundation for future work. You won’t know it at the time, but it happens.