Reflecting on One Year with Wiser Time Publishing

(This post also appeared on the BakingKookys blog)

I’ve been writing for Wiser Time Publishing for one year. That’s 26 published stories total about West Ashley and James Island food businesses. These businesses are either brand new ones to the area, or established ones that are growing, have new management or a new menu, an upcoming charity dinner, or other news.

I submitted another story just this week, I have feelers out with other businesses in the works, and I scour the internet daily for news of new openings and events. Sometimes just driving around and seeing what’s new pays off more. [Savannah Highway and Folly Road rarely disappoint with vintage automobiles, artfully hand-painted VW CamperVans, and otherwise unusual vehicles. And it’s nice to check in with the Coburg Cow and see what she’s wearing this month.]

If you did not already know, this blog has an About Me section (click the link to go there). It includes a slideshow of all the Wiser Time published pieces, the pieces as submitted are listed below that. Prior to Wiser Time, I was contributing to Eat This magazine. Prior to writing about food, I covered independent musicians live performances and recorded albums for Performer Magazine’s Southeastern edition. I have always been a music fan, but I do not play instruments or read music, nor do I sing professionally. I enjoyed learning about indie artists (deserved more attention than they get), but I found I felt limited in my commentary as just a fan. it was an awkward situation where I felt if I am not growing, I must be going. I had been a home-trained baker and cook from a very early age, so food writing was a more natural topic, and ultimately a better fit for me.

In my writing for Wiser Time, and even in creating the Sea Islands Dining Guide, I hope I have motivated residents and visitors to check out new places or discover ones that are new to them.

Traditional food critic pieces often take polarizing views. I write about food, but I am not a critic. I aim to tell readers about the people behind the business, their background in food, where they are from, what they are offering, what local businesses they used to get set up, where their produce is from if it’s local, and why you should try it at least once and make up your own mind.

You the reader know what you like or what sounds intriguing to your tastebuds.

You the reader know what your budget is any given night.

And it’s possible in reading my stories you may discover you and a chef or owner are from the same neighborhood in New Jersey, Maine, or Oklahoma, or Tokyo, for that matter. How cool is that?

I hope readers try the places out. I hope it becomes a new favorite, those readers would go back, and would even suggest it to a friend. With all the technology, media and experts that exist, word of mouth from a friend is still strongest endorsement tool any business has.

I have seen too many eateries come and go. Hanging the shingle is just the beginning, restaurants need fans, and buzz, and regulars. Ideally they would interview with every paper, mag, and blog they could because they all have different audiences and I’m not sure they all realize that. Communities need thriving businesses, employed workers, and a genuine feeling of community among their residents.

It is really awesome to see Downtown Charleston get so much national attention for its restaurant scene. That being said, I do think great places are opening up in the surrounding cities and boroughs** and they deserve some attention as well.

You do not have to go Downtown to get locally-grown food.

You do not have to be Downtown to eat well-crafted dishes from people who bring a lot of heart to what they do, whether that’s a burger, a slice of pizza or a hefty plate of Southern ‘fixins’.

You do not have to go Downtown to get craft beer.

And odds are, the parking is free, and there’s plenty of it.

I will close this post now. I need to go hunt down some future stories and do some baking.

**Mount Pleasant and James Island are towns. North Charleston is a city. West Ashley and Johns Island are part of Charleston.

‘Got an Interview? ‘Bring It!

You don’t have to be a cheerleader, but if you want to be remembered, I think “bring it on”, or “bring it” is the best strategy.

I don’t think I understood this early on when I was an interviewee, or a potential job candidate. Playing it safe seemed wise. Clichés were prudent. But since I didn’t get those jobs, I have to assume those strategies backfired, and people forgot they talked to me. I wore a safe dark-colored suit, listened a lot, and said correct, brief, forgettable things. Yes I wanted a job. Did I want their job? If I’d convincingly seemed that zealous, I would have got the offer, now wouldn’t I?

Fast forward 1.5 years. I’ve interviewed a lot of people for stories about themselves and their businesses. I am not hiring anybody, but I am giving someone full spotlight for 30 minutes and hoping they give me something I can’t stop talking about. That energy comes across in the story, and readers really want to come check that business out and meet the person behind it.

And yet, too often I get is ineffective job interview style experiences. I ask a question, I get a safe, heard it 5-10 times before, safe response.  If one more person tells me “everything happens for a reason”, I am hoping I have a airplane barf bag handy. Don’t state the obvious and think it’s being original or profound; you have to know deep down it’s neither of those things. This experience has been karmic, I get to see what I was like on the opposite side of the desk and it was “meh”. But I didn’t write this post for my benefit, but to urge people who got an interview to take the risk to be real. 

There’s a physics to interviewing, and energy crosses that desk and continues to exist after the interview is over, definitely for the interviewer, but sometimes also for the interviewee. The be bold, be yourself, be a passionate positive approach means delivering that energy. In short (albeit slang) ” ‘Bring it!”

Bring your stories. Bring engaging storytelling style. Bring energy. Bring enthusiasm. Bring a sense of readiness.