John Wetterau’s writing habits are as steady as his daily choice of blueberry muffins at the Peaks Cafe. The penchant for writing around clattering dishes and earnest conversation began decades ago when this Greenwich Village, New York City native with a degree in computer science enlisted in the Air Force. As a retreat from life on base, John would frequent the local Sam and Bill’s Diner to write long letters and short stories. The habit stuck, apparently.
The coffee/baked goods combo must work like magic because just this year John self-published his fourth novel, Wild, Hard, Sweet, in addition to a collection of poetry On the Road to Dharamsala and short stories Michelangelo’s Shoulder. Over, you guessed it, coffee and baked goods, John confessed that Wild, Hard, Sweet started out as a Conradian novel about injustice until it took on a life of its own. “I try to write about the bad stuff, but I can’t. It’s like trying to hold a beach ball under water. Instead, I wrote a coming-of-age story. It’s a guy book.”
Poetry was the first step in John’s literary journey. Rather like Portland’s Valentine Bandit, John used to “ziploc” poetry throughout our fair city. Armed with a stapler and a box of Ziploc bags, he attached poems that grew out of a particular place to nearby telephone poles. “People used to collect them.” John recently forged a new partnership with painter and fine arts photographer Victor Romanyshyn. After Victor paints a backdrop, arranges a still life in front of it, and captures the image photographically, John responds to the still life (such as this one titled “Coffee Can”) with poetry. Their collaboration has generated some gallery shows and a self-published catalogue, “21.”
Getting his work out to readers is more than a goal, it’s a working principle for John. “It’s an artist’s responsibility to complete the loop, to deliver what you produce. It’s not a publisher’s responsibility. It’s a personal one.” Armed with this fresh perspective, John is one of the island’s most knowledgeable self publishers who has helped several other authors lay out and self publish their own books.
John first started using Memoware.com, a site where one’s work can be posted and then downloaded by readers for free. “A few days after I uploaded my first novel, 65 people had downloaded it. This was working!” Although John moved on to POD (print on demand) technology, he still posts all of his work up on Memoware. Over one of Eleanor’s legendary pies (lemon meringue, this time), John celebrated a landmark 100,000 downloads of his work from Memoware. Next, John tried desktop publishing shirt pockets books which were guides to the stockmarket and the Enlightenment (that’s two separate guide books, in case you had doubts).
Before switching to his current favorite, CreativeSpace.com, John used POD sites such as lulu.com and xlibris.com. John finds Creative Space offers better economy; “Wild, Hard, Sweet took about $40 in set up, and then $2.50 per printing beyond that.” As a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Creative Space makes John Wetterau‘s books readily available. So raise a cup of coffee to the journey that has brought John’s literary energies to our island.