Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Writing about Restaurants

This week I began my research into my first freelance article, which will be a history of restaurants in Austin. Ok, I haven't yet sold this article, so, like the effort it represents--making money from writing--it is an experiment.

I am also taking the old saying, 'write about what you know' literally for two reasons. First, it's a subject that I am interested in, and second, it simply hasn't been written about enough, in my opinion. If the successes of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and the whole Food Channel phenomenon are reasonable measures, I feel that there is a lot of interest waiting to be tapped, so to speak.

Of course, for me, the place to begin is local. I don't want this piece to be a memoir or a personality piece, so I will concentrate on facts which will be of some interest to many Austinites and thus could be sold to a local magazine or perhaps even appeal to Texans in general, which would open the door say, to Texas Monthly. Now, ironically, even though the sale of the piece is of course the critical reason for writing it, on this topic I think I've said enough, because I am conscious of the fact that every word written about writing is a word not written for sale.

My first pass to see if I could easily uncover a book or article about the history of Austin restaurants fortunately yielded nothing, so I am at least heading into some relatively uncharted waters. My visit to the Austin History Center website confirmed that I must make a few forays into their archives for texts and photos that can be used for historical reference.

There are plenty of other topics related to restaurants that I can eventually write about, and I by no means want to limit myself to this one subject. Ideally, though, I'd love to combine travel with writing about restaurants, so I am, for now anyway, setting myself up in that vector with hopes and plans that it entails. Note that this is not going to be about food, per se, but about the places and people that make and serve the food. I guess I can be clear that this is not going to be a restaurant review, so there will be no need to crank them out or write about places that I have never been or have no interest in.

Finally, one obvious side benefit of the subject is that we will get to go to more restaurants for research purposes. If my writing only paid for this, I'd be pleased with the start.

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