Friday, October 14, 2011

Night Watchman Eyes Better Future through Education

Randall Bird knows security cameras. He is also well-versed in blind spots, motion sensors and locks. As a night watchman, Bird is counted on to provide the security and protection that a camera can’t capture.

“Having a living body on location is a great deterrent to crime,” Bird said. “And in the event that something goes wrong, a good report is always a plus in the eyes of a court and an insurance company.”

As a budding writer, Bird’s reports are an extension of his passion: creative writing. The married father of three (and two foster children) works full-time while also taking creative writing classes at Tempe’s Rio Salado College as part of his long term goal to become an author and English teacher.

Four years ago, Bird’s wife Becky was researching colleges for her own career in education, and came across Rio Salado.

“I was looking for classes that would help me tighten up my writing,” Bird said, adding that he also enjoys the school’s flexibility.

“What I like best about Rio Salado is that I can access my school work at any time online. But what really sold me was the catalog for the creative writing program, which covers everything from screenplays to short stories, novel preparation and editing.”

Bird credits Rio’s faculty members and instructors for helping him grow as a writer.

“Sandra Marinella (creative writing coordinator at Rio Salado) has been a real driving force, challenging me in terms of how I write and how I present my work,” Bird said.

Originally a science fiction writer influenced by a Dungeons and Dragons childhood, Bird has broadened his repertoire thanks to feedback from other writers.

“Once I was exposed to the online writing community, I began to feel the need to expand and experiment with other styles ranging from romance to comedy and beyond,” Bird said.

Last spring, one of Bird’s writing instructors nominated him for a scholarship to attend the “Desert Nights, Rising Stars” writing conference at Arizona State University.

“This was actually a very important event for me because it let me interact with a large group of writers one-on-one and attend lectures by some of the brightest and most talented wordsmiths I have ever met,” Bird said.

For now, Bird happily balances work time and family life as his wife finishes her teaching degree at Rio Salado.

“It’s a cooperative effort with my wife,” Bird said. “We work in shifts with the kids and sometimes go with just a few hours of sleep. It is stressful and exhausting at times. It sounds crazy, but it works well.”

Bird doesn’t even seem to mind his graveyard shifts.

“Aside from the occasional scrap metal hunter jumping into a trash receptacle or a copper thief trying to yank fittings off the building, very little actually happens,” Bird said.

Hmmm. Sounds like the first chapter of Bird’s next literary endeavor.