March 31, 2017

Second Thoughts: March Edition

by Meredith Bethune
food & travel writer
March 2017

This month I stayed in Europe, first traveling to the Netherlands on two separate occasions and then heading to the U.K. I promptly saw the Queen just a few hours after landing in London because my friend Veronica and I just happened to be attending a conference right across the street from Westminster Abbey. The Queen's outfit (a bright yellow coat and matching hat) definitely didn't disappoint.

Right now, I'm writing this from the plane heading back to Belgium from Iceland where I just spent several days exploring the country's crazy geography and eating lots of outstanding food. An intense hike through the snow and up into an ice cave actually cured a nagging foot injury. 

I also have plans for the month of April, including trips to Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, and France. I don't post all my photos on Facebook, so it's best to follow along on Instagram
 
What I'm writing: 
  • The modern architecture in Rotterdam, the second city of the Netherlands, is practically the opposite of what you'll find in Amsterdam. This was the theme of my weekend guide for New York Magazine.
  • For Civil Eats, I wrote a profile of a community organization in Montreal. 
  • Here's my first story about Israel for Extra Crispy. It's all about jachnun, a breakfast pastry with Yemeni origins.
  • Learn about using white port in cocktails in my story for Punch.
  • I plan to drink lots of rakia while I'm in the Balkans next week, but now Americans can drink it at home too. Here's my story about the trend for Tasting Table. 
  • And here's another article about the medicinal roots of liqueurs for Tales of the Cocktail. 

Photos from The Netherlands and England: 



What I'm reading:

I have some thoughts on the viability of food writing as a career
End the secrecy surrounding coworkers' salaries
Why one Belgian chef rejected her Michelin star
The story behind the sugar cube
I tried kanafeh in Jerusalem back in January
Arthur Avenue was one of my favorite places when I worked in the Bronx
How this world of streaming affects the experience of the music collector 
Some doctors are much more likely to prescribe opioids than others
The country of Georgia is pretty high on my "want to visit" list
Why a lauded Brooklyn restaurant is closing despite success
How millennials do business travel 
You should care about immigration if you like dining out 
Why the New York Times fired their theater critic 
The story of the African-American shoebox lunch 
Everything the Pioneer Woman touches turns to gold 
How a Hasidic rabbi came out as transgender 
So this is why flight attendants always make you raise the window shade
Photos from Iceland:


What I'm recommending:

Ok, so I haven't actually read this book, but I've heard the author talk on enough podcasts to understand the basic premise of Deep Work. Cal Newport recommends blocking off chunks of time (usually 2-4 hours) to focus on a single project and completely eliminate distractions like social media, email, and phone calls. I've been doing this almost every afternoon and use browser extensions like Block Site to block distracting websites and Inbox Pause to halt my email. I also put my phone in another room. Maybe soon I'll take up his other recommendation-- giving up social media entirely (not likely).
 
Getting real about writing:

Question: How do you find the right editor to contact to pitch a story?

Answer: Lots of googling or Twitter searching. I'm a big proponent of the cold pitch (reaching out to an editor you don't know personally), and I find email addresses by scouring the internet for contacts. I tend to target an associate or assistant editor instead of someone higher in the hierarchy. The masthead of the print magazine is also a good place to start, as many of them now list the digital editors. A simple Google search can also yield results sometimes, but it's good to check any information against Twitter because that's usually the most up-to-date. After finding a name, I figure out the pattern of the company of publisher's email convention and send my pitch.

But finding an email is just the beginning. The most important step is actually crafting the pitch, which should always be tailored to the specific section of a magazine or website. 
Links for writers:

There are indeed gender differences when it comes to pitching
The importance of anchor clients 
Working through imposter syndrome
Hit "reply" to respond. Or, maybe even pass it on to a friend. 
 
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