My Get Up and Go, Got Up and Went
One of the best things about writing as a career, is that I never have to retire. Another great perk is that my hobby…reading…compliments and enhances my profession. When I retired from my day job in 2002, I began living my dream. My life was perfect for about seven years and I had the schedule I’d always dreamed of. I arose early, took a brisk three-mile walk through my neighborhood, had a bowl of oatmeal with fresh blueberries, then I went to my computer where I wrote for four hours. In the afternoon I edited my copy and read.
I loved my life. I even loved Monday morning!
Then age caught up with me and none of this was working. This really ticked me off, especially with myself. The bitch-lady who lives inside every writer’s head began screaming ugly accusations. Lazy! Unmotivated! Procrastinator!
My published mystery, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, was doing well. I pushed myself to spend long hours and complete book two, THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR. But I couldn’t work more than 20 minutes without having to lie down. Not even the bitch-lady could get me on my feet for more than a few minutes.
I was scared that my dream-life was ending, that my writing days were over. But the harder I pushed myself the fewer pages I cranked out. I’d always been disgustingly healthy and could force myself to keep working when I was exhausted. Even when I was working two jobs. That was when I was forced to rethink my attitude. I had to face the fact that I could no care for my 4-bedroom, 2-car garage and all that went with that, and have any energy to write.
More than staying in my home of 40 years, I wanted to finish my 2nd book in the Grace Cassidy series and keep spinning stories.
Modifications were required, and here are some of the changes I made:
I sold my beloved house and moved into an independent-living apartment, here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. These places don’t come cheap, and I like to have spending-money in my pocket. So I chose a three-room apartment. My choice allowed me to keep my manicures, pedicures, and top-notch hair colorist and instead, give up things I had collected over the years.
Downsizing and moving was a nightmare. Adjusting to my new life was tough. I had had one serious meltdown, which my youngest daughter helped me through. We writers are sentimental and parting with some things was hard.
This is just stuff, I told myself. My life is my family and my writing, not bric-a-brac, not even books.
This is for me and my writing career, I told the bitch-lady, who castigated my every move. I ignored her in the same way we writers have to disregard her when she says, “Whatever made you think you could write a mystery?”
I also faced my developing health problems. As Bette Davis once said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.” Now I have a pacemaker and a bi-pap machine for my sleep apnea. I wasn’t happy about either of these things, because each diagnosis shouted, “Old Woman!” But guess what?
I had my life back. I could write for a couple of hours without having to go to bed for the rest of the day. I was creating stories again! I finished THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR and began book three in the series.
I LOVE MY LIFE.
Senior living isn’t for everyone, but for a single woman writer, it rocks!
I never want to give up writing.
Nowadays, after I slide out of bed in the morning, chug down pills that keep my heart pumping, and make a cup of coffee in my wonderful Kureig coffee maker, I walk directly to my computer and begin my day as an author.
I’m setting at my desk right now, fingers on keys, and working. And I know something I didn’t understand two years ago. As we writers age, we have change our schedules so nothing interferes with our story telling. Writing is hard. Writing takes time and energy. Writing takes courage. If you find your productivity wanes as you age, take stock of your situation and figure out how to put your writing at the top of the list.
Sometimes we just have to kick our own butts.
Jackie King loves books, writing tall tales, and murdering the people she dislikes on paper. Her latest mystery The Corpse Who Walked in the Door is available in ebook format. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, and Tulsa NightWriters.