I was punishing my body at the local health club, huffing and puffing my way on the stepper, hating myself for the cheese cake and the brownie I devoured at the party and vowing to do better this week, when I got thinking about my writing, which I usually do to take my mind off the aches and pains of exercising. Several weeks ago an internet writing friend of mine blogged about changes taken by some writers in their writing careers such a switching from fiction to nonfiction or from novels to short stories. She cautioned us to think of these as detours and not deadends, and she’s right. There’s another detour some writers take, and I’m a prime example of it. I began writing in earnest after I retired from a long career in another field. I’ll bet there are a lot of us who did that.
I’ m not like some writers who dabbled in writing before they retired from being lawyers, teachers or fire fighters. And I can’t honestly say I always wanted to write mysteries, or that I wrote fiction my entire life, although I’ve always read mysteries from Nancy Drew as a child to Agatha Christie in high school. I wrote through my career as an academic psychologist, articles for scientific journals and academic textbooks, but fiction came to me after I left college teaching and administration behind.
I began crafting my first mystery as an act of self-defense. My husband and I had moved to New Mexico after we retired. He’s one of those invidiuals who always knew he wanted to write fiction. In fact, he had penned a short novel late at night when his children were sleeping. While he was awake and creating a fictional world, I was crafting a piece of research or analyzing data or lying awake wondering why I thought I wanted to be a university administator (probably a defective gene). That was before we met. Once we moved in together and began to share our lives, I realized he was dead serious about a new career as a writer. As for me? I hadn’t a clue what I was going to do while he was tapping away on his computer keys. He suggested I might write too. So, given that he was not about to interrupt his work to pay attention to me, I took up writing as my defense against boredom and a spouse who ignored me.
Eight books later and I’m still at it.
I’ll bet my story is not unique. I’ll bet there are a lot of us oldies out there who have crafted a second career out of writing. Our many years of living should make us good at creating characters and situations that speak to many readers. I won’t say we’re better at it than younger writers, but we’ve got a lot of stories to tell. I know I do.
Let’s hear it from all you retirees who aren’t really retired at all. What’s your story?