Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs: Water → food → security → coffee → writing → self esteem. Well, maybe not exactly the way I learned it in school, but it’s close to how it’s being played out in my life.
So, after the move to the Bay Area, my EMS career continued to evolve from Clinical Coordinator, to Regional Trainer, to Field Supervisor. In 2006, I finally left the ambulance business to work for the State of California as a Health Program Specialist doing disaster planning. Gas prices (and a 1.5 hour drive each way from the Bay Area to Sacramento) eventually drove me back to Contra Costa County. Professional independence came as I began working for myself as a consultant. Scary, yes, but the State Community College System where I teach part-time covered the insurance, so that helped. I continued to work with the local fire department and was offered a few other contracts for teaching, quality improvement, and writing. I’m good for a while.
So, I’m back to having this completed manuscript and needed to decide what to do with it. Reading the Contra Costa Times one day, I saw a blurb about the East County Writer’s Group. I decided my seeing this article must be some form of divine intervention, and I hooked up with a great lady named Mel. I figured a writing group was a less painful way of getting my story heard by others, and that honest feedback could help me decide if I should try really to try to publish the book. I found the Brentwood group to be an interesting and diverse bunch, most of them already published authors. Their works-in-progress included personal memoirs about growing up; a modern day saga about a divorcing couple; a thriller about spies in the Middle East; and an interesting vampire story. My fiction was very different than theirs, but I found a level of comfort in sharing my pages with them. They liked learning about a profession they knew little about and were very respectful with their constructive criticism. Better yet, they repeatedly told me they felt the novel really was ready for prime time. Win!
After about 6 months into this, I decided to check out the other part of the group that met on alternate weeks, in Pittsburg. This was another diverse group led by a bubbly, funny, outgoing woman named Carol who writes a senior column for the Sunday Contra Costa Times. Then, I met Wolfgang. The only male in the group, he’s a little shy, loves chocolate chip cookies, has a wonderful dry sense of humor, and everyone loves his eclectic works. An artist by trade, he also publishes a weekly humor column in the CoCo Times, often sharing a page with Carol. He’s published two books: “Touched by Choi”, a thriller with a dark twist; and “A Parallel Universe”, an offbeat collection of cartoons. Offbeat is another great word for his writing. We often wonder what’s he’s smoking when he thinks up with his stuff. We’ve heard parts of the novel he’s working on about the unluckiest bad guy on the planet, a collection of “Twilight Zone” type flash fiction; a story about a street performer named “Clint Mint”; and my personal favorite, a “Mr. Magoo-esque” tale of Bruno, a guy who raises invisible chickens and misconstrues the concept of “date”, which leads him on a wild adventure.
When I shared my enthusiasm about learning podcasting and told the group about the marketing value of social media, Wolfgang was the first one to show interest. In fact, he’s ready to go out and buy his own H2 Zoom and start learning to podcast. I recorded him last week doing the first chapter of his ‘Bruno’ story. If I can successfully edit the thing, it will be posted next week. Then, I’m sure Wolfgang and Bruno will be well on their way to stardom. Wolfgang’s website is http://www.wolfski.org. He’s also on Facebook and Twitter under writewolfgang.
On a personal note, I’ve found that “putting yourself out there”, “building your brand”, and letting people know about your work does produce a response. I connected with some of the writer/podcasters I’ve been following on Spacebook and Twitter. They’ve been gracious and welcoming despite the fact I don’t have a viable product yet. It seems they remember what it’s like when they were getting started in podcasting and were trying to build an audience.
So, as I write this while listening to fireworks and the barking of three insane dogs, I’ll wait until it’s quieter to work on editing Wolfgang’s story then put it into the feed. Please listen … you’re in for a treat!