ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 6 * * All Arts News On the Web * * May 16, 2002


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      Stop in for the AAC CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and workshops. We come together on the second Wednesday for a booked musical performance and an art exhibit at Simple Pleasures in St Albans. On the fourth Wednesday come to the Kept Writer in St Albans for acoustic Open Mike Night featuring music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      Writer, reporter, and one-time private investigator, Kate Bilodeau is the Editor of the County Courier (and, in the interest of full disclosure, my occasional boss).
      "I participated in the Channel 3 grade school writing contest a number of years in a row," she said. "I caught the bug through that writing contest."
      Good writers start as avid readers. "I read almost exclusively fiction but like pretty much anything. I really like science fiction, I really like crime novels, I really like mystery writing. I enjoy fantasy novels, too, and straightforward literature and novels, so I'm really not very discriminating. I'll read romance novels right up to the other end of the spectrum, like cereal boxes, everything."
      With advice from her elementary and high school teachers, Ms. Bilodeau began to look for a writing career. "I really made a conscious choice as a writer to go into journalism," she said. She majored in Journalism at Emerson College in Boston.
      "I tried to write what I was enjoying reading," she said. "It didn't always work out that well for me. I don't know if I had the skill or the imagination [for fiction] but I discovered people tell you their stories and [those stories are] more interesting than the stuff I make up. I am lucky that way because I didn't know it would happen."
      Ms. Bilodeau started professionally as a reporter at the St Albans Messenger. She became News Editor, then Managing Editor. Before moving to the County Courier, she took about a year off to work as a private detective contracted by the Federal government for federal investigations.
      "I was looking for something different but I wanted to stay in the area and there's not a lot of jobs out there for writers," she said.
      This uncommon career used her reporter's investigating skills. "That's helped my writing to some extent but it has really helped my interviewing and my ability to talk with people and to be comfortable with that." The federal reports were formulaic but the job gave her the opportunity to ask pointed, hard hitting questions, "things that maybe I wouldn't be able to ask or wouldn't want to ask as a reporter." She learned to ask about the private, appalling life troubles, and to get an answer with grace and tact.
      She now writes the Courier editorial every week "which is terrific and a new thing for me," writes stories when the other reporters can't, and interviews or profiles interesting people around Vermont.
      "I struggle," she said about writing the editorial. "It's good because it makes me do it every week." Many other writers also need to work with a deadline. Evan Hunter who also writes as Ed McBain doesn't get up until he finishes ten manuscript pages. This column goes to the paper by email every Tuesday.
      Ms. Bilodeau gave us a trade secret. Reporters get to the essence of the people they describe by asking questions and transcribing the answers. People talk fast. "It's tough," she said, "because there is a real skill there. I type fast enough that I can type a quote word for word. That's over the phone and that's typing. Handwriting is much tougher" in person.
      She developed a personal shorthand. "I don't use vowels.
      "I'm a firm believer that you have to get the quote right. If you're going to put quote marks at the beginning and the end, you should get it as accurate as you possibly can with the goal of getting it word for word as they said it.
      "If somebody says something totally fascinating I'll say, 'wow that was fascinating, give me a minute and I'll write that down.' And sometimes I'll say it again. A lot of times if it's a really good quote it's not very long."
      In a telephone interview, people also hear the writer typing and slow down. "People who have been interviewed a lot are pretty good at helping you out," she said. "But with people who aren't as familiar, it's okay to say, 'Hey, my hand's cramping up.'"
      Writers often specialize in a genre or a specific subject area.
      "Journalistic writing, some people [think], is not writing in the literary sense. I guess we get sort of an inferiority complex a little bit."
      A reporter commonly publishes 400,000 words each year, plus or minus 100,000. A typical Stephen King novel weighs in at 200,000 words (normal manuscripts are half that). At around 1,000 words each, a weekly column can add up to about 50,000 annual words. Anyone who delivers that many informative, inciseful words in a year is a writer.
      In "journalism you're making sense out of things that doesn't make sense," she said. "If you are doing good writing, you are making pictures out of things and telling stories in a unique way. You have to as a writer enjoy it more for yourself than for others."


DOGNY (May 20)--America's Tribute to Search and Rescue Dogs is a public art project to benefit Search and Rescue Dog organizations throughout America. Artists are invited to submit design proposals for how they would paint a DOGNY Search and Rescue Dog sculpture. Sculptures of a Search and Rescue Dog will be on public display this summer in New York City and auctioned at the end of the year. Artists must Click here to pre-register online.

CALL FOR LITERATURE (May 31)--Weber County Library, Ogden UT, event with a theme of What I Got @ the Library. Essays, fiction 250-2500 words. No word limit for poetry. Pays $25-100. Click here for info and a prospectus.

LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY CENTER ART GALLERY (May 30)--is accepting proposals for the 2002-2003 season. 15-20 35mm slides or a CD, list of slides, resume, and SASE to: Shannon Murphy, Director of Student Activities, Louisiana State U--Shreveport, One University Place, Shreveport LA 71115

CURRENT WORKS 2001 INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION/EXHIBITION (May 31)--Juried Society of Contemporary Photography show offers $2,750 in cash awards. Entry fee. Click here for info.

ALDRICH POETRY COMPETITION (June 30)--will recognize two poets and publish a chapbook. Juried by Robert Hass, US Poet Laureate ('95-'97). Entry fee. Click here for info.


      Ever wonder what song accompanies the American Express commercial? (It's Hillbillies from Outerspace.) And is Elvis really looking for A Little Less Conversation from Nike? Are your favorite music composers and artists selling out or buying in? This site will give you the facts. is a comprehensive list of commercial, song, title and artist, and, where apropos, the cover bands who performed the music have been credited.
[Editor's Note: The "dot-info" domain is one of several new domains available to web site owners; you can click here or ask your own ISP for more info about these new "top level" domains.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


AAC dancing logo

All Arts Council of Franklin County

Support Free Speech on the Internet
Dick Harper, Chair
P.O. Box 1
Highgate Springs, VT 05460
email us

Go to [ Dick Harper | All Arts Index | ArtBits Archive ]

      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2002 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.