Cooking with Poo

The smell of ditches never drained and never cleaned. The thick air, the narrow walkways, the foreign statues and home alters — so much of the Klong Toey slum invades the senses.

And then there was Poo, a dynamo of a woman, one of those people clearly born to entrepreneurship. Of all the sights, smells and tastes of my first trip to Bangkok — my first trip to Asia — her passion for cooking and her commitment to helping others lingered. If I told one story about my trip, it needed to be hers.

Finally, after 20 months of trying, aafter four other rejections, I told Poo’s story. But this isn’t a story about freelancer problems. Just as a story about Poo isn’t a story about cooking. It’s a story about a freelancer win. There are some stories I have pitched, failed to land, and let fall by the wayside forgotten. This one, with such a strong character at the center, demanded more. I kept trying again, and again. So often an assignment has less to do with the subject matter than timing, or other stories already assigned, or the newness of a writer unknown to the editor.

In my past career as a newspaperwoman, perseverance came in the form of knocking on one more door, of calling one more source, or not taking no for an answer, of constantly demanding and pushing. As a freelancer, the perseverance is there, but redirected. To pitching, and pitching, and pitching again — until eventually the right story finds the right home.

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