Late Bloomer: Sesser woman embarks on writing career after retirement


Phyllis Pearson with her just-published book “For Better or Worse.”
(Photo by Jim Muir)


By Jim Muir

While some people look at the golden years of retirement as a time to relax, kick-back and watch the world go by Phyllis Pearson saw it as a chance to embark on a new career.

Clearly the most remarkable thing about her decision is the fact that it wasn’t just any old career that Pearson chose – at the age of 71 she decided to write a book.  And in a matter of a few months, “For Better or Worse” – 218 pages in paperback about a young girl named Maggie – was finished.

A native of Franklin County and a current resident of Sesser, Pearson said she prayed about a direction for her life.

“I prayed for guidance,” said Pearson.  “I am in fairly good health for a person my age and I sure didn’t want to sit and twiddle my thumbs until I died.  I was given this urge to write this story and this is where it came from.  I was led to write this book.  The Holy Spirit led and sometimes pushed me all the way through. To God by the glory.”

Once she started the words came easily, Pearson said.

“I started writing the book in mid August last year and I wrote the final word on Thanksgiving Day,” said Pearson. “Of course that was just the rough draft and we had to go through the editing process.  It was finally ready to go to print this July.”

Pearson is a widow and has two grown sons, Eric and Cleve, and is also a grandmother.

Pearson said she has no formal training as a writer but did “tinker around” writing many years ago.

“I jotted things down, sort of like a blog before anybody knew what a blog was,” she said. “I called it ‘my world as I see it.” I basically wrote about childhood memories.”

Pearson said the experience of holding her book is rewarding to her but she also hopes it serves as motivation for other retirees her age who might be struggling with a new direction in life.

“It’s been quite and experience and I’m proud of what I accomplished,” said Pearson. “I found something in me that guess I didn’t know was there. I hope others my age might find some inspiration from this.”

Pearson said she knew a vague beginning to her book but once she started her creative side took over.

“I didn’t know the complete story from start to finish,” Pearson said. “I knew what I wanted to do with the first few chapters but then as I got deeper into the book it just came to me. One night I couldn’t sleep until I got up and deleted a couple of pages I had written. It was that kind of experience.”

The book is about a troubled young girl named Maggie who Pearson said had a childhood far different from her own.

“The biggest problem I had was keeping Maggie in character,” said Pearson.  “I had a blessed childhood and I was writing about a child who was abused, ignored and whose needs were never met. And then later on that caused her to be such a closed-in person … which I am not.”

Pearson said the book is not based on any event or any person she has ever known but noted that she did use a few stories from her friends about their own childhood.

“I guess you could say it is a collaboration of some of the stories I’ve heard,” said Pearson.  “I’ve read a lot and watched a lot of Dr. Phil – about the impact that childhood has on us as adults.  Maggie was just a compacted version of all this.  She got the full load, poor child.”

Pearson said she has heard authors talk about fictional characters ‘coming-to-life’ on the pages of a book and said she didn’t believe that until her writing experience was completed.

“Maggie is real to me, she really is,” said Pearson.  “There was a time in my life when I would have liked to adopt a little girl 10 or 12 years old just to love her.  Maybe Maggie is that little girl.  She is just a poor little girl that you want to hug.  These weren’t just words on a page to me. The world is full of kids like Maggie.”

Now that she is published author Pearson is certainly not resting on her laurels.

“I have started my second book,” she said, “and I think it has more of my personality and more about experiences I’ve had in my own life.  I also have plans to write  a couple of mysteries too.”

Pearson said she is counting on good genetics to enhance her now-thriving writing career.

I’ve got the two mysteries book already written right up here,” Pearson said pointing to her head.“My great-grandma lived to be 92 so I plan on being like her so I can continue my new writing career.”

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