Professor’s blog post published by leading literary magazine
July 29, 2014
A blog post about
creative writing by a University of Wisconsin-Stout faculty member has been
featured on the website of one of the premier literary magazines in the
The essay "Bridging
the Gap" by Professor Brian Fitch appeared July 9 on the North American Review
blog site. The magazine, the oldest of its kind in the U.S., was founded in 1915
Fitch, who teaches
in the English and philosophy department, wrote about the importance of doing
hands-on research while writing fiction in order to build a more factual and compelling
The essay grew out
of an experience Fitch had while working on a novel that takes place during the
Korean War. Despite doing considerable research about the war "something was
missing. I had lots of facts and figures but little emotional connection," he
wrote in the blog.
Fitch decided to visit
Fort Snelling, in Minneapolis, where a fort director showed him an M46 Patton
tank, which was used in the war and was in the process of being restored. Fitch
went inside the tank.
Suddenly, the conflict
from 60 years ago seemed more real.
inhabited a tiny space while war raged outside. I wondered how they could even
turn around," Fitch wrote. "In
short, I was changed profoundly from a person doing research to a human being
closer to sensing the terrors of war."
In the cramped
quarters, Fitch bumped his head. He panicked and climbed out.
"Without thinking I
slid off the turret and down a fender, the way I'd seen Marines do in film
clips, and nearly shattered my knees," he wrote.
helped Fitch connect in a much deeper sense with the subject of his novel. It provided
him with a powerful example of how to bridge the gap "between factual and
fictional to carry on a historical truth."
Hands-on learning is
the norm at UW-Stout, Wisconsin's Polytechnic University, but Fitch said the
concept can be difficult to convey in the creative writing classes he teaches.
allows a writer to be more perceptive to the connections that surround us," he
wrote. "As I climbed down into the tank, I began to understand hands-on research."
The July blog post
was based on a book chapter published in the 2011 summer fiction issue of North
American Review. The chapter was nominated for Pushcart Prize.
Fitch has since
finished the novel and is searching for a publisher.
The blog post can be
Fitch was invited by the magazine to write the essay.
"This is quite an honor given the prestige of North American
Review," said Jerry Kapus, chair of the English and philosophy department at