NY Chapter co-chair Tim Sheard was the special guest at our virtual NWU Chapter meeting held via Zoom on Sunday, Nov. 15. A retired nurse, author, and publisher at Hard Ball Press, Sheard gave the Washington, DC Chapter a sneak peek of his new book, A Pandemic Nurse’s Diary, about true stories of essential hospital workers during the coronavirus pandemic. It is an “As told to” work, meaning Tim worked with “Nurse T” to help her develop her diary into powerful, poignant stories about fighting the Covid-19 avalanche of patients in her NYC ICU.
Having mentored hundreds of writers over the years, Tim was able to combine his writing experience with his 40+ years of nursing experience to capture the moments of fear, danger and camaraderie that the nurses and other hospital workers experienced in the Spring of this year.
NWU members asked about the collaboration process. Tim explained how Nurse T would send Tim accounts of her day, he would smooth out and amplify the narrative, send it back to her and ask, “Is this accurate? Is this how you felt?” Together they developed the stories into accurate, emotional moments in the ICU during Covid.
Since he began taking virtual guitar lessons from a teacher in New Orleans, Tim began writing songs based on Nurse T’s stories. He formed a band, The Pandemics, and recorded 13 original songs, which are now available on all the streaming music platforms. NWU members were keenly interested in how a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction made the transition to composing melody and verse. Tim reported it is a mysterious process. As he played the exercises his teacher gave him, the melodies just sprang up, and once he had the melody, he needed lyrics to go along with it, and Nurse T’s stories were occupying his mind day and night, so the songs just grew naturally.
The gray-haired members took encouragement from a fellow writer who, at age 72, is learning new writing skills and venturing into unfamiliar creative waters. And Tim is grateful for the opportunity to talk about his writing, taking risks and trying something new. Old writers never die, they just change platforms…
Tim Sheard is the co-author of A Pandemic Nurse’s Diary and the Lenny Moss medical myster novels. He is the founder of Hard Ball Press, a social justice imprint that has published several NWU members over the years.