Monday, May 30, 2016

Retirement Review

I've been retired, this time, for six months now, so I feel it's time to reflect on how it is shaping up.

All my life I have been looking forward to retirement because I have so many other things I want to do. Writing, of course, is the big one—the wet dream of every writer: to have unlimited time to write. Heaven on earth, the ultimate joy, the...well, we'll get back to that.

I also fancied doing a bit of art. I used to draw many years ago, but I stopped because I couldn't fit it into my busy schedule that, in those days, included many hours devoted to drinking. Still, when I did manage to draw, I wasn't so bad. Over the ensuing years, however, I seem to have forgotten how it is done and I'm keen to see if I can figure it out again.

I drew this, so I could, at one time, draw fairly well.
This is how I draw now.
I also wanted to get my genealogy back into shape. I put an astounding amount of time into this some decades ago, back when you had to travel to the records offices of distant cities, and write letters, and make over-seas phone calls. The results were admirable, but the members of my family tree lacked the good sense and consideration to stop dying and having children, so the numerous branches need tending.

Lastly, and most at odds with my nature, I planned to watch more television, specifically movies. Somehow, I got it in my mind that I have missed a great deal of quality cinema over the years and proposed to devote some of my retirement time to catching up.

So, how is this working out in real life? Well, let me tell you about my typical day:

I get up, I go to my computer, I stare at the blank screen. Then I stare some more. When that doesn't work, I get up and wander around the flat, maybe have a cup of coffee, notice the dust on the books shelves and do a bit of tidying. Then I stare at the blank screen some more and realise it is almost lunch time. After lunch, I try to tell myself I can do something else—work on my genealogy, try to draw a picture—but I can't do that because I haven't written yet, so I stare at the blank screen some more.

Consequently, and unexpectedly, the main activity I engage in is NOT writing. That is the single thing I spend most of my time doing, NOT writing. And because of this, I don't do much of anything else.

The results of a typical day of writing.
I hasten to add that, despite all of the time I spend NOT writing, I have, over the past six months, finished one manuscript, started and completed another and am well into a third. It's just that the time I spent writing all of that pales in comparison to the time I spent NOT writing all of that.

(Before you start feeling sorry — or, more likely, annoyed — with me, let me state that this is not an unusual side-effect of the mental health affliction known as “being a writer.” We either write, and then castigate ourselves because what we've written is crap, or we don't write, and then castigate ourselves for being worthless because we are not writing).

Now, to the non-writers among you, this may seem like a doddle. I mean, you probably spend all day NOT writing and still find the time to work on your trapeze act and polish your milk bottle collection, but for someone like me, it's hard work. This is because I have so many things to NOT write. The main one being the eight-book series I am working on for my grandchildren. Let me tell you, there is a lot of NOT writing involved in that.

But I also spend a lot of time NOT writing posts for this blog, as the erratic posting schedule can attest to. On top of that, I also have plans for something I call The Patriarch Diaries—vignettes of my early years I want to collate for my grandkids so they can read of a time when televisions weren't flat and, when you needed to know something, you had to look it up, often at a library, in a book (a kind of paper stack bound together on one side that you could leaf through and look at the words printed therein).

Anyway, as you can see, I have so much stuff to NOT write that I really can’t fit much else in. But at least I'm not bored.

Someday, perhaps, I'll get my act together and start being productive (or as productive as I think I ought to be) in the writing arena. Then maybe I can spend some time NOT drawing.


  1. Well, I enjoyed your "not writing" post. But only being retired for 6 months doesn't count for much in my book. Give yourself some time... a few years or so. "Still not writing" could be your subject then. No, I'm just kidding. It's just that I'm no writer (correction: no professional writer as I write and have written in journals, letters, blogs, etc. my whole life), but... I too thought that once I was retired, I would have "time" to write all the novels, stories, etc. that I had been squeezing in between feeding babies, working, sleeping, etc. However, I've been retired 5 years now... and although I have completed a few... I'm not as focused as I thought I'd be. You see, there's so much time that we seem to fill it with other things (and there's always tomorrow - if we're lucky). So don't be so hard on yourself. There's lots of time left to "not write".

    1. The strange thing is, I wrote a lot more when I was working full time. When you retire, you think, "I've got all the time in the world to get this done." And you do...if--as you point out--you're lucky.

  2. Such a great post, and your drawing is lovely! I am 59 years young so I am close to retirement age. Thank you so much for sharing, and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

    1. Thanks. I assume you mean my landscape drawing ;)

  3. Ugh, I am so NOT writing at the moment it's stressing me out. I am now at the point that if I sit and write for more than an hour at a time I find it totally exhausting. Completely out of practice.

    1. NOT writing is a hard habit to break. I can still manage about 1k words a session, but that leaves me drained.