FARMINGTON — Writing was not something Gary Edwards always wanted to do, but it’s something he’s found he enjoys doing.
Edwards, 54, of Farmington recently has published his first children’s book, “The Little Red Bird,” with illustrations by Farmington native, Angela Ferrari.
He’s taken some creative writing classes and enjoyed them but never knew he could do it, he said.
A visit to a long-time friend and karate instructor dying of cancer prompted Edwards to want “to explain who he was and what he meant to me and everyone,” he said, of his last visit with martial arts Master Seung O. Choi about 10 years ago.
He came home from the Portland hospital and spent the night writing the book about a little red bird that affected the lives of many birds around him. When he got back to the hospital to try to share it with Choi, only family was allowed. He asked the nurses to take it in to him. Edwards intended for it to be only for him.
“I think we all meet people who cross our paths, who stand out, one or two who are significant,” Edwards said.
Choi was well known and respected, a teacher who ran a martial arts school in Portland for many years.
The school continues today.
“He reached a lot of people,” Edwards said.”He had a way about him. You were aware you were meeting someone when you met him.”
The little red bird in the story may be just a red bird for children, but there’s more an adult can read in to it. The little red bird parallels Choi’s life.
Choi immigrated to Maine from Korea after meeting a woman working there in the Peace Corps. She later became his wife and brought him to Portland. He was ahead of his time wanting to teach what back then wasn’t popular but now is.
“During that last visit in the hospital, he was reaching out to someone even then,” Edwards said.
Edwards wife, Kim, thought the story written for Choi would make a good children’s book. He thought when the time was right the opportunity would present itself, he said of the 10-year wait.
Now a Portland artist, Ferrari worked well with Edwards. She was open to suggestions and her artistic talents lended to what we hoped to get, he said.
Eddie Vincent of Farmington also helped Edwards, consulting on publishing.
“In these days of YouTube, musicians, writers, artists no longer have to wait for a select group to say what is worthy,” he said of publishing the book himself under the name, Wind Chime Publishing LLC.
Edwards, who grew up in Wilton and graduated from Mt. Blue High School, now owns a hair salon, Salon West, in Farmington. He met Choi while in high school and later trained with him. He doesn’t claim to be a storyteller. He modestly talks about his writing abilities. He’s just someone with a great imagination, a day-dreamer, he said. One who enjoys writing about what’s going on in his life at that time, he said.
“Everyone has talents but we have to figure out what we enjoy doing and have a passion for,” he said. “It may not be your livelihood. It may only be a hobby.”
He doesn’t know where this interest in writing will go from here, but he’s completed a second book, yet unpublished.
This first book is available locally at Calico Patch and Devaney Doak and Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Sensations in Kingfield and Salon West in West Farmington.