“I worked for wine and cheese,” says Jo Walker, recalling her embryonic journalism years. For some, working pro-bono is akin to offering yourself up as the short stick to the ruthless vanguards (read: editors) of the print media world. Why write for nothing when you can write for something?
(Disclaimer: as a cheese aficionado, this author thinks that a slice of brie on a water cracker is payment enough. My other currencies are glory and goon.)
However, her success affirms the idea that you can spin a bit of silver lining out of the bare spindle of freelancing (emphasis on the word “free”). After all, the ever-increasing circulation of Frankie magazine wasn’t built on the riches she accrued as a young-eyed writer. It’s due to experience, hard work and yes, luck, (although Walker admits the publication’s rising profile may be because of her mother’s tendency to cover other stacks of magazines with a copy of Frankie).
Indeed, you can’t put a figure on a Katy Price interview (or her boobs, for that matter) for the weekend tabloid of a British street press publication. Not if it leads to a section-editor position and an interview with Robin Williams. This was Walker’s life in her early twenties. Don’t think her journey was as efficient as the crow flies, though. She recounts a few questionable jobs she had to trawl through as an aspiring journalist: “I wrote a parenting column when I was in my mid-twenties.” More memorably, while working on a story about band groupies in the forty-degree heat of a one Brisbane night in her underwear, she spent a night deliberating the politest way to talk about spurting semen – “sperm, jizz or cum?”
I must admit I don’t know the answer. Nor can I fathom how knowing synonyms for the word “ejaculate” would further one’s career, but I guess it’s pretty funny. Although, since the previous issue of Frankie contains an article which describes giving birth as “fisting in reverse”, perhaps some hints of those young and crass days survived to make Frankie so distinctive.
Although this all seems like unorthodox advice, a theatre full of aspiring bloggers, photographers and writers were all to ready to pick up the pearls that fell straight from the oyster’s mouth. I’m not going to lie either – I had a moleskine tucked away in my bag. And in order to emulate Walker and her success, I’ve written this in my underwear.