It’s Never Too Late: How This Grandma Became a Writer
All about Jan Pierce
In 2007 I turned in my keys and retired from a teaching career that spanned four decades. I taught elementary school all those years and in the latter part of my career became a reading specialist.
I’d anticipated retirement years—all those nights when I didn’t have to set the alarm and all those mornings when I didn’t have to spring (okay, crawl) out of bed at 5:45 a.m. And it was, indeed, wonderful.
While I missed being with groups of children and the camaraderie of fellow educators, I also knew I’d enjoy time to make choices beyond what to cook for dinner after a busy day at work or how many loads of laundry I could do after grocery shopping on a Saturday.
Now I had all the time in the world. I could drive about the community in full daylight on a weekday. I could sleep in. I could read and garden and play tennis to my heart’s content.
Then a funny thought passed through my mind. I’d been to a women’s workshop on “The Power of Story” and I wondered if I might be able to write. I’d always loved words, hadn’t I? And I loved writing all those essays back in college days.
When a friend mentioned the name of a local writer’s organization and an upcoming meeting, I grabbed a willing friend and went to see what a bunch of writers looked like. What I found was a bunch of people a lot like me—readers, word lovers, those who had things to say to others.
I was hooked. That day I decided to try my hand at writing. What did I have to lose? A friend of a friend was the editor of a devotional quarterly magazine and I sent in a set of seven devotionals—just to see what would happen. They published them!
I was just as surprised as anyone that the first thing I submitted was put into print. No matter they didn’t pay anything or that the distribution numbers weren’t large—I was a published author.
And so it went from there. I continued to study the craft of writing. I learned to write and submit articles and short pieces to various publications. I happened on a workshop that was called “Writing the Short Stuff” which helped me hone my skills in article writing.
They always tell authors to write about things they know. Well, I knew the world of education and literacy in particular. I began to write for parenting magazines. I was able to convey the things I’d learned over a long teaching career to parents. I loved writing bits of information in a short 500 word article that might encourage a weary mom or dad.
I even tackled novel writing and wrote about life in India for a young Hindu girl in the 1870’s. While that story is still in the hands of an agent, it was very satisfying to write and rewrite the story until it was the best I could do.
After writing for parenting magazines for quite some time I decided to write a book for parents who wanted to help their children learn to read. I remembered all those parent-teacher conferences when a child was struggling to learn and the willing parents just didn’t know how to help. I did know. So I wrote Homegrown Readers: Simple Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Read. I figured at my age I didn’t want to wait for years to find a publisher so I went ahead and self-published the book. I’m not sorry I did that because the book is in the hands of many parents who have been encouraged by its content.
And then, while discussing today’s fast-paced technology-driven world with my daughter and its impact on my grandchildren, I realized I had some things to say about the need for old-fashioned creative play. Play is the work of childhood, but the definition of play has altered to a startling degree since the advent of video games and computerized “worlds.” Children spend a great deal of their free time living virtually and it’s affecting their growth and development.
After some research I wrote Homegrown Family Fun: Unplugged which is a little book filled with hundreds of ideas for authentic play experiences for today’s families. And every activity can be done without plugging in a machine. Families need to protect some of their children’s time and encourage indoor and outdoor fun that is “people-powered.”
So there you have it. Grandmas can have a second career after retirement. You can take a casual interest and expand it into something very satisfying in retirement years. You’ll still have the luxury of working as many or as few hours as you want per week. But you won’t find yourself becoming bored with a sedentary lifestyle. You’ll remain active and healthy and offer something positive to your family and community.
Here’s a little secret: You can do it too. What do you love? What do you have to offer your family or your community? Go ahead and take a chance—you are never too old to try something new.
Both books make great gifts for parents of young children and Homegrown Readers is perfect for a parent discussion group as well.