A Resident’s Perspective – What’s Next?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. July 2016

How often have you heard (or promised yourself), “I am going to write a book sometime,” or “You need to write a book with all those stories in your life?”

Within a few days of moving to Panorama, I tiptoed into a free–Writing Your Life–class in the chapel balcony. Charlotte (the facilitator) and the class of about eight offered me a seat around a large table arrangement.

Edith began reading the next episode story as a wife of a vicar and her move into the two-story, old wood parsonage the same snowy day the transferring vicar was moving out. Transporters needed to save time and money—it was the depression. Both families had small children, and it was lunchtime!

Class members heartily nodded at her scenario–no paper plates, microwaves, or plastic anything.

I felt invigorated to join. Authors who had no time to write since the last class, came just to hear the ongoing stories. We neither critiqued nor edited. However, I had a goal to write and encouragement to “write my story.”

Hungering for constructive criticism, I magnetized to invitations from members of our PanWriters class. What next?

After about a year, I showed up to the class. For a small fee, we received critique and editing from Bryan Willis, an internationally known playwright, and from the nine class members, who received a copy of others’ story. The first day I showed up, I read two pages of My Wedding Nightmare. I left with swollen encouragement.

I continued that class until time to write about the twenty some years of my life that I am keeping a secret here in Washington until publication. Why? I didn’t want to read that section in class. Just about everyone knows I’m writing, and asks the title. If I do, I give away the two areas involved in the book before it arrives on the shelves here, and everywhere, hopefully! A neighbor and author Patricia mentored me and gave me many books to study. Besides writing for marketing, I write for benevolent fund several times a year. Writing many hours a day is recreation for me, not work.

Finally, great news! I finished the book after these five years of daily pounding my laptop until letters on the keys force me to use the seek-and-you-shall-find method. I should have taken stock in printer paper. Busy Bryan, who had just finished a commissioning, was eager to be my editor. A week later, I presented him with my manuscript.

Many assume that a retirement community is a place to keep warm until time to get cold again. If that fits their fancy, fine–we respect individual choices. However, Panorama offers much more. Residents–who never had the time to pursue their talents–enjoy the opportunity here. A great-grandmother, who had never stepped into a television studio, is an expert TV switcher in Panorama’s closed-circuit TV studio.

Now, I eagerly await Bryan’s critiques on my manuscript, so we can get the nitty-gritty details to final print is completed.

Then I can relax, be done, volunteer piano playing more often, write regularly on this blog, work further in my craft room, become a resident transit dispatcher and/or a concierge in Pan Hall.

What next?

Start my next book!?

Mary Jo Bio

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