These Begin Again interviews focus on people who’ve started over, whether as a career, by moving, or even through divorce or remarriage. Today, I’m interviewing Molly who is a nurse and it wasn’t until later in life that she found out that she had a knack for humor writing. It’s now something that she juggles along with nursing. So let’s meet Molly and find out who is that Boomer on the ledge.
Can you please introduce yourself, tell us what you do and where you do it?
My name is Molly Stevens, and I live in central Maine near Stephen King’s hometown. I am married to Patrick, who is shallow like me, and mother to a son, James, who lives nearby with his wife and our two perfect grandsons. I’ve had a thirty-eight-year career as a registered nurse and recently reduced my work schedule to part-time, which I love.
Was becoming a nurse something you always wanted to do as a child?
I know the noble answer would be ‘yes,’ but I did not imagine myself becoming a nurse when I was a kid. I was most interested in the arts – music, and literature. After I started college, my attention shifted toward health education, but when I realized jobs were scarce, I changed my major to nursing. I have worked in a variety of roles during my career and found them stimulating and fulfilling.
In my blog, I write a lot about trying new things and people who start over. First, what drew you to writing? And, you’ve continued to nurse while writing, are there plans to move to full-time writing?
I have always been a voracious reader, gobbling books with almost as much enthusiasm as a platter of nachos. I believe this foundation set the stage for me to become a writer. I started writing mini-essays on Facebook that were mostly humorous, and family and friends urged me to start a blog. Once I found a name that seemed ideal – Shallow Reflections – I was off to the races. I have more time to write now that I work part-time, and I do see it as a new career. It is hard to say I’ll do it full-time at this stage of my life. But who knows? When you have a passion for something it doesn’t seem like work, right?
You are a humor writer. Did the writing come first or did the humor come first? Did you always know that you wanted to write humor or did it evolve into it?
The humor came first. I grew up in a family that found something funny even in the midst of a crisis. Since laughter and humor help me through rough patches, my mission is to help others do the same. I believe humans crave a reprieve from the harsh side of life, and if I can help one person achieve that, it makes me happy.
You recently published your new book, Boomer on the Ledge™. Tell us where the idea came from and how you progressed it to a book.
I watched my grandsons get excited about finding an elf posed each morning in the weeks before Christmas and thought my generation was missing something fun. My mother left me a little vintage doll I started photographing in different poses, and it cracked me up. I brainstormed ideas with my husband, Patrick, and The Boomer on the Ledge concept was born. I waited for a year before I published it as a blog post, and then decided I needed to expand it into a book with a new doll. I designed my vision of the doll, and worked with a fantastic seamstress, Brenda DeRoche, to make Boomer on the Ledge come to life with a unique personality. The more we worked on the design, the more she looked like me, especially when I first get up in the morning.
Are there any plans to expand on the Boomer on the Ledge concept? I love the Boomer Doll in the picture.
Yes! I am excited about book two, which is in progress. I foresee the doll becoming more interactive with new boomer escapades. I would love to have the doll mass-produced at some point, so she’d be available for purchase.
On top of being a Nurse, a blogger, and the author of Boomer on the Ledge, you also maintain a blog on The Bangor Daily News, contribute to other websites like Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop and Humor Outcasts, and do guest posts. Where do you find the time? How do you structure or organize your day?
When I worked full-time, I did most of my writing before leaving for work. My mind continued to work on the piece throughout the day, and I wrote down ideas and edits as they materialized. I’d glean even more insights when I took a walk during my lunch hour, and repeat them aloud while walking so I wouldn’t lose them before I got back to my notebook. So remember, not everyone who talks to themselves in public is a screwball. Oh wait, maybe they are.
Looking back at everything you’re doing, is there anything you wished you did differently?
I don’t have many regrets, but I suppose the obvious one would be to start sooner. I don’t dwell on that, though, because I am happy to be where I am now with my writing and the release of the book.
Did you get any advice or help from others while starting your career as a writer?
I read Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform, and joined several blog/writing groups on Facebook, making some terrific friendships. I attended the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in 2016, and it changed my life giving me the confidence boost I needed. In 2017 I went to the National Society of Newspaper Columnist’s annual conference during which I added to my writer’s toolbox and met first-class writers who have been supportive beyond my wildest dreams.
And to go along with that question, what advice do you have for someone who is planning on becoming a blogger and author in addition to their other job titles?
Think about your focus and the audience you hope to attract, but write for you – not to please others – and you will find your voice. Read novels and study other writers’ styles. Read about writing and blogging. Read. Don’t chase blog stats but write quality content with consistency. Be generous supporting other writers and be a standout when you comment on their blogs – you will make some fabulous allies. Limit social media to protect your writing time. Use a thesaurus. Be attentive to grammar and invest in the premium version of Grammarly if you can afford it – otherwise, use the free one. Be a ruthless editor – less is more. Don’t forget to glance up from the computer to live so that you can gather new material for your writing.
It’s true when you have a passion for something, it doesn’t really feel like working. Recently, during COVID-19 quarantine, Molly participated in the #GettyMuseumChallenge sharing hysterical pictures of her, her husband, her Raggedy Ann doll, and a rubber chicken taking on the challenge of recreating famous paintings. Her Raggedy Ann Mona Lisa is included in the book that the Getty Museum book, Off the Walls: Inspired Re-Creations of Iconic Artworks
(All Pictures used in this post were provided by Molly from Shallow Reflections and used with her permission.)