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The PWACer Profile: Cynthia David
Friday, August 9, 2013 (All day)

Meet Cynthia David, a writer who sums herself up on her website this way: “Toronto-based journalist, seasoned food writer, world traveller, fruit and veg aficionado and wild mushroom forager.” With its diverse range of eateries, David says, Toronto’s a great place to be a foodie—and she shares her passion for new food finds, restaurants, kitchen gadgets, foodie travel spots and more in a variety of publications. They include The Toronto Star, where she has a biweekly column called Fresh Bites, plus magazines such as LCBO Food & Drink, Foodservice & Hospitality, Dreamscapes and The Packer, a North American trade publication for the produce industry. It’s a niche she began cultivating in late 1980s as a newspaper food editor, first at The London Free Press and later at the Toronto Sun. She has also completed chef’s training and worked at a one-star Michelin restaurant in France. Here, David shares her insights on how she got her start, how she makes it work, and the most savoury aspects of freelancing.

Sharon Aschaiek: When and how did you get into freelance writing?

Cynthia David: I have journalism degree from Ryerson University, and I worked in newspapers for 11 or 12 years. I got laid off one morning from the Toronto Sun—I was the food editor and it was the best job in the world, I loved it, and it was gone. I never imagined I would make it as a freelancer, because I’m not aggressive and I can’t take rejection. Now it’s 2013, and I would never go back to a five-day work week.

S: What are your strategies for sustaining and growing your freelance writing business?

C: I wish I had one. I’m hoping regulars will stay with me, and as they fall off, I have to find something new. I write occasional corporate brochures and create recipes for food industry clients. I have a lot of repeat business and I’m very lucky—the phone rings. It’s about delivering good copy, always on time. If there’s any strategy I have, it’s to make food interesting while educating people. I also go out to restaurants and farmers markets and talk to farmers, because locally grown food is such a huge trend. And I read as much as I can about food.

S: What has your involvement been with PWAC, and how has it helped you build your business?

C: I joined in the late 1990s and have been a member ever since...I had a client find me through PWAC five years ago, and I make $10,000 USD a year from them, so I gratefully pay my membership dues every year...I think especially now, it’s important to me to use my money to support freelance writers and help keep the industry alive. I’ve paid attention to all the struggles with pay rates and how they’ve gone down, and it’s disgusting, so I really support PWAC fighting this trend.

S: What do you enjoy most about being a freelance writer?

C: I’m sitting here with window open and a tree in front of me, looking at a jungle of a backyard—it’s quite lovely. My husband was a restaurateur, so for both to have the freedom to go for coffee every day and go away for few days whenever felt like it was just the best.


Networds blog editor Sharon Aschaiek writes about education and business for media publications and websites, and provides communication consulting and copywriting services to schools and educational organizations.

 

- Sharon Aschaiek

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