Bureaucrat engineers escape - writing fiction Carroll County employee publishes first collection of work written weekends

March 17, 1997|By Jennifer Vick | Jennifer Vick,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Even a job as seemingly routine as a county government worker can provide inspiration to an aspiring writer.

Ask Bruce Waldron, a development review coordinator for Carroll County who recently had his first book of short stories, "Belly Up to the Yellow Line," published.

The title of Waldron's collection comes from a work-related trip with a co-worker to a building site two years ago.

Just as Waldron complained he was hungry, their car narrowly missed a dead animal on the road. His co-worker humorously suggested Waldron's lunch was there on the pavement and urged him to "belly up to the yellow line."

Waldron immediately wrote the line in his journal. The rest hasn't made publishing history but did give him the title of his first short-story collection.

Waldron, 46, whose job entails handling paperwork for construction plans and development proposals, began to write seriously in 1990, when he realized he needed a change from his "dry and stiff" engineer work.

He studied writing at Frederick and Carroll community colleges. He also attended summer writers' workshops at Frederick Community College and St. Simons Island, Ga.

His writing reflects his "off-center" taste in movies and stories. He cited "Fargo" as his favorite movie, and John Irving as his favorite author.

"Writing is definitely an outlet for me," said Waldron, who lives in Libertytown in Frederick County. "I've always wanted to write but never had the time."

Waldron, who is married and has a 17-year-old son and a daughter, 10, finds time to write during the early hours on weekends when he believes his creative juices flow best. But what often sparks an idea for a story will come from observations of daily life.

"I'll be out at lunch and see something that is really cool and go write it down," Waldron said.

He sent his short-story collection to more than 20 publishers before Commonwealth Publications, a mass-market publisher in Alberta province in Canada, took interest.

"The great thing about books like this is you can essentially read one story, get the whole plot and then move on to another," said Sheldon Staszko, publicity manager of Commonwealth Publications.

On the book's cover, below the title, is a warning to the reader: "Expect the Unexpected."

"Every story has a twist and some are more twisted than others," said David Booth, Waldron's co-worker who inspired the book's title.

The short stories are tales of love, magic and the paranormal, placed in everyday settings. The depth of characters, who engage in emotions of "love and ecstasy to hate and bigotry," comes from Waldron's emphasis on characters over setting.

"Emotions come out strongest when two characters are in some sort of relationship either positively or negatively," he said.

In "Chu Lai," a young man serving in Vietnam grapples with the horror of war, a story inspired by Waldron's tour in Vietnam from 1970 to 1973.

Waldron's poetry has been published in small literary magazines, Write to Feel and Muse, and he is working on two novels. One, "Freedom Bird," draws on his war experience.

"Belly Up to the Yellow Line" has made a popular run among Waldron's fellow workers at the Bureau of Development, one of whom gave him literary inspiration the other day.

Waldron had brought in his favorite snack and it caught a co-worker's attention.

"Salsa and animal crackers?" the co-worker inquired.

Waldron liked the sound of it, immediately found his journal and wrote down "salsa and animal crackers."

Pub Date: 3/17/97

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