Local writing students’ “Quiet Blue Wheel” benefits Literacy Volunteers

Contributors to the local anthology &quotA Quiet Blue Wheel" pose with copies of their book. From left: David M. Fitzpatrick, class instructor and editor; Christopher Olsen; Kelly Jean Richardson; Greg Westrich; Anette Ruppel Rodrigues; and Paula Burnett. Not pictured: Charles O'Leary, Marsha Libby, and Amanda and Josh Updegraff.
Debra Bell
Contributors to the local anthology "A Quiet Blue Wheel" pose with copies of their book. From left: David M. Fitzpatrick, class instructor and editor; Christopher Olsen; Kelly Jean Richardson; Greg Westrich; Anette Ruppel Rodrigues; and Paula Burnett. Not pictured: Charles O'Leary, Marsha Libby, and Amanda and Josh Updegraff.
By Debra Bell, Of the Weekly Staff
Posted Aug. 08, 2012, at 3:25 p.m.

When the quiet blue wheel of inspiration started turning in 2009, students in David M. Fitzpatrick’s Bangor Adult Education class, “Creative Writing: The Short Story,” turned ideas into a finished anthology of short fiction that Fitzpatrick has independently published.

That anthology “A Quiet Blue Wheel” is now available for purchase.

For many, seeing their writing in print is a thrill. However, 10 Bangor-area writers know that a portion of the proceeds from their “wheel” will benefit Literacy Volunteers of Bangor. According to Fitzpatrick and his students, that’s even more reason to publish.

Fitzpatrick began the Bangor Adult Education class in the fall of 2009 with the goal to help interested writers hone their skills and become publishable.

“I believe there are three things you need to be a fiction writer,” Fitzpatrick said. “The first is a basic command of the English language. The second is an imagination. And the third is a love of writing.”

The lack of any of those three things poses challenges to writing good fiction. However, Fitzpatrick’s class was ready to tackle the challenge.

The authors of “A Quiet Blue Wheel” are Paula Burnett, Charles O’Leary, Marsha Libby, Christopher Olsen, Kelly Jean Richardson, Anette Ruppel Rodrigues, Amanda Updegraff, J.D. Updegraff, Greg Westrich, and Fitzpatrick. Over the course of the semester, students wrote, critiqued, and peer edited. Their final story was between 5,000 and 10,000 words, he said.

Transformation is something the students learned during the class and after as the editing process continued in anticipation of publication.

Writer Anette Ruppel Rodrigues said the entire process was “a fun experience.” Her historical fiction story, “Margaretha,” was based on her research into the Hessian settlement at Fort George. Her blue wheel was literal and bore the form of a blue spinning wheel.

“[The class began with] writing a shorter story,” she said. “Then we started on the longer story and we did some peer editing. It was very interesting because we all had to have this blue wheel in the story. Some were so obvious. Some were hidden so well. The whole group was very serious, but with a great sense of humor.”

Anyone who writes for a living knows that it takes a lot of eyes and critique to make an article, story, or book successful. And that’s something Fitzpatrick and the other writers focused on.

“This is not an easy class,” he said. “We work together and become a team. At the beginning of the semester they went in and no one knew each other. Now they all know each other and they enjoy getting together. It’s like going through war together.”

That “war” continued for long after the class ended. And the students have emerged victorious.

“It was a learning process for everyone,” he said. “Everyone had such great passion and imagination. The goal of the class was to get these students published, and nobody was left behind.”

Likewise, the goal of leaving no person behind when it comes to literacy is paramount at Literacy Volunteers of Bangor. The organization has over 300 tutors and even more clients. Volunteer tutors from the community are paired with a person in need. The typical client is between age 35 and 50, she said, and needs assistance.

“[Tutors generally want to] see an individual’s life being transformed,” she said. “This is a neat connection because it’s using a book to generate awareness, enthusiasm and some donations so that everyone can enjoy that quiet pleasure of curling up with a book. It’s a wonderful connection that ties in beautifully with our mission.”

According to Fitzpatrick, in the small-press world the most common way to be paid is through contributor copies. Sales of the book will help cover the cost of production, including hundreds of hours of editing. But more than that, Fitzpatrick and his students chose Literacy Volunteers precisely because of its mission. “It seemed appropriate since this is a writing class,” he said.

Three other anthologies from subsequent classes are in the works: “An Odd Red Puzzle” will come next, followed by “The Forgotten White Door” and “That Amazing Green Toy.” And while Fitzpatrick doesn’t expect the books to be runaway blockbusters, he hopes to sell a few copies, to pay for the production and editing time, and to donate to Literacy Volunteers of Bangor.

“A Quiet Blue Wheel” ($14.95 U.S.) is available for purchase through Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever books are sold. For information on the book, the stories, and authors, visit www.epicsagapub.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/08/the-weekly/local-writing-students-quiet-blue-wheel-benefits-literacy-volunteers/ printed on April 20, 2014