Bedford Writers Celebrate Their Sweet Book Success

Bedford Minuteman, September 22, 2011

By Leslie Wittman

There was a feeling of joy and pride of accomplishment at the recent book launch party for “The Ice Cream Stand,” a book of stories and poems by 19 local writers and two instructors from Mindy Pollack-Fusi’s creative writing classes. Approximately 80 people attended the old-fashioned ice cream social where they not only enjoyed Bedford Farms ice cream and wonderful readings from the book, but also excitedly asked the authors for their autographs.

Four years ago when Bedford Center for the Arts was seeking to offer new classes, Pollack-Fusi proposed teaching Intro to Creative Writing. “I didn’t have the foggiest idea how to teach this topic, although I’ve been a writer my whole life,” said Pollack-Fusi. The classes were successful and over time many students continued to meet together in biweekly class sessions at Pollack-Fusi’s new business, The Place for Words & Workshops.

“The wonderful writing produced in these classes comes from “prompts” that I provide to get the writing process started,” said Pollack-Fusi. “When my students’ work became so exciting, I realized these stories, essays and poems needed to be shared with a forum larger than our classes. Last year, when the Bedford Cultural Council announced available arts grants via the Massachusetts Cultural Council, I applied for and received a grant. My goal was to enable students who wanted to publish to have that opportunity.”

Pollack-Fusi created an independent publishing company, The Place for Words Press, and formed a committee of her more advanced writers to help shape the book. They decided to self-publish through createspace.com, and now their book is complete with an ISBN number and barcode.

“The Ice Cream Stand” was dedicated to the late Jerry Christen, founder of Bedford Center for the Arts, who inspired Pollack-Fusi in many ways. Stories and poems by both Jerry’s wife, Charlotte, and daughter, Linda, are featured in the book. After feeling stuck in her academic writing, Linda Christen found the creative writing process freeing. “It was so fun to play with words and see what comes out,” said Christen.

Over the years Bob Beckwith did a lot of direct marketing writing in his business, but never any creative writing. “It’s turned out to be fabulous, “said Beckwith. He feels that everyone has something in their head to write about, but Beckwith did emphasize, “It takes a good coach and a close group to bring it out.” This was validated when Beckwith read his story “The Ice Cream Stand” which gave the audience many laughs.

Jennifer Klein started taking Pollack-Fusi’s writing classes after being a stay-at-home mom for five years. She read her story “How Can I Help My Children Stop Fighting.” Although she had taken other writing classes in the past, Klein said, “Mindy is more thorough and personal. She really has your best interest in mind.”

The other authors who read their work were Linda Christen, Marilou Barsam, Claudia Fox Tree, Lea Ann Knight and Bruce Nickerson.

Each of the 10 tables at the book launch held a sheet of paper with a “story-in-the-round” writing prompt. Attendees were encouraged to write a sentence or two and then pass it along to the next person. Several of these impromptu stories were read aloud and the audience was amazed at how good they were.

At the end of the evening the question was asked how to become unstuck as a writer. “Don’t let all the judgers in your head be heard,” said Pollack-Fusi.

For information on upcoming book readings and where to purchase “The Ice Cream Stand,” visit www.theplaceforwords.com or call Pollack-Fusi at 781-275-7301