By Marsha Shearer
My career required me to do a lot of professional writing—teacher evaluations especially prepared me to be a close observer, recorder and evaluator. I also wrote and published in my field, so writing became a way for me to confer information.
When I retired, I turned to the kind of writing I had always been doing—writing “letters to the editor.” That started as a teenager. I’ve always been fascinated with politics; I love it like others love baseball or chess or yoga. It has always been my ‘thing.’ I also can’t keep my mouth shut. So…..
…when a new online paper started in The Villages, I began submitting letters to the editor which soon became opinion pieces. I wrote about what bugged me, what concerned me, and what I wanted readers to understand about a political topic of local and national relevance.
In this community, politics is skewed to the right. But there are thousands of liberal leaning voters who hadn’t had a public voice. I wrote for them but I also wrote for those who value common sense, empathy, logic, and facts. Political party is beside the point. I guess, using the vernacular of the times, I’m “woke.” People need to know they’re not alone in their beliefs, and that’s why I wrote. But writing is also my way to process information; it requires me to do the hard work of research to back up my opinions.
The op-ed columns I wrote for Villages-News became the basis for my first book, America in Crisis: Essays on the Failed Presidency of Donald J. Trump. I was amazed and so gratified when it earned a Gold Medal from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. Wow! Imagine that! The second book, Life After Trump: Seeking a More Perfect Union followed shortly after.
My writing process is weird. I have to be motivated and moved by a topic. Once I have the topic, I start the research. Then I stew. I make notes. They are scattered throughout the house as ideas strike. And then I write. No outline, no story page, no consulting with others. After I have a reasonable copy, it’s sent to a friend who, happily, is obsessive/compulsive when it comes to GPS and sentence structure. As you can tell, I don’t know when to stop. He provides the “when.”
Writing is a joy for me. It’s an end in itself—although when my publisher, Hallard Press, provided me with business cards that read “author,” I shed more than a tear. But it’s the damn marketing that drives me nuts. Amazon won’t accept ads if the book title contains the name of a living politician, so I depend on word of mouth, Facebook, local book signings, connections. I stopped sending copies to ‘influencers’—the books, no doubt, lie amolding in basements in the Senate Office Building and TV studios in DC and NY. Ah well.
Now I want to plug Nancy and John at Hallard Press. Life is full of serendipitous events and meeting them was one of my best! Their advice and suggestions have made me a better writer and made the books more available and readable. That they are local is a huge plus. To say it succinctly, they have my back. I couldn’t ask for more talented people in my corner.