Freelance Journalist Interview with Lexy Barber
About your journalism
What do you write about?
After several years jobbing between publishing and events roles, I finally took the leap to become a freelancer. My experience in full-time employment has allowed me to develop a wide range of topic knowledge, from health topics based within a charity and on a health magazine, to financial issues learned within a conference production role, to lifestyle in social media positions. I'm a knowledge sponge, and this was one of the reasons that full-time paid posts never satisfied me – I would learn all I could about a subject and then want to find out more, about other things. Freelance copywriting means you can throw yourself into each project with fresh eyes, and really broaden your knowledge horizons at the same time. It has also allowed me to study my Masters in General Law and Social Justice with more flexibility than a full-time job, too.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
The most memorable piece has to be the book review I did for Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? Her writing is absolutely compelling, but she blurs the line of author and fiction in a unique fashion which fascinates me. It was the first piece I'd written that went up as is, with no edits from the Spiked team – I knew then that I could write!
What feature would you love the chance to do?
My main areas of interest lie within health and lifestyle, particularly on LGBT issues which – while on the increase in mainstream media – could still do with a larger profile. The recent hoo-ha over gay marriage has been an interesting insight into broader views on these issues, and I think has opened many doors for open discussions which previously didn't exist, and that makes the future very exciting indeed.
About you and PRs
How can PRs be useful to you?
I'd say that the ones who do their research and know what I like to write about and don't spam me are the best! I will often take an idea from a press release and take an original angle to make an interesting pitch.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
If I weren't a writer, I don't know what I would do with myself to be perfectly honest. I have had a varied career path, but always ended up in roles which involved word creation and communication. It has never crossed my mind that I would be anything else BUT a writer. The only other thing I would probably be useful for is a tour guide; I am fascinated in trivia and history and know a lot of silly facts about the history of London in particular.
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
If I was given £1000 and it was absolutely forbidden to do all the boring things with it like paying the bills, I would finally get the puppy I have always wanted, and lavish it with something ridiculous like a jewel-encrusted lead, just because. Why would I get a puppy? Mainly to provide legitimacy to the habit of talking to oneself. Every home-working freelancer does that…don't they?
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I suppose I am more of a health nut than most would assume (given my physique, that's probably another reason to get a puppy – endless walks), when considering the only magazines I read every month without fail are Zest and Healthy. I rely on DIVA for my LGBTI updates, too. I challenge myself to read a new magazine or paper every week, which has been so much easier since getting my beloved Kindle! Writing Magazine in particular is great, but find it can be more of a hindrance than a help, because it gives me lots and lots of ideas which can be dangerous! I have to limit myself to reading it every other month, otherwise I'd never see the light of day for writing so much.