When I retired two years ago, my sister told me not to worry about being bored. Stuff would materialize to fill my time before I knew it. Boy, was she right.
I’ve always considered myself an energetic person. Before retirement, I had worked full-time outside the home for decades while raising a family, managing a home, and writing four books. I expected that level of activity to continue, only now—without the outside job—I would be able to increase my writing output exponentially. Right? Wrong.
I neglected to consider the seductive power of slower mornings. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in more than nine years. (I’m sixty, so you can probably guess the cause.) The last few years I worked, that early-morning alarm became a snarling monster, out to sabotage my mood, my motivation, and my health. Of all the benefits of retirement, being able to grab an extra hour of sleep—no matter how fitful—is my favorite.
However, lolling around in the morning, reading the paper and having breakfast in my pj’s, comes with a price. Throw in a little gardening or an errand or two, and the morning has disappeared. Social media has to take some of the blame. When I retired, we moved from Minnesota to California. The weather is fantastic, but I lost my in-person social contacts. Also, due to the time difference, I feel like I’m behind the rest of the country by the time I sit down for breakfast. I want to catch up with old and new friends on social media and check out what’s happening in the world. More time gone.
And then there’s OG. He’s around all the time. When I worked and he was home alone, I didn’t worry too much about him. He was responsible for his own time. That’s just the way things were. Now I feel guilty if I don’t spend enough time with him, don’t give him enough interaction and attention. I used to come home from work, fix dinner, watch TV with him for an hour, and then retire to my office to write. I never felt guilty. I’m not sure why the dynamic is so different now, but it is. Maybe it’s because retirement is an adventure we’re facing together in a new place, with few social contacts aside from each other. I would tell OG to get out there, do something, make friends, except that he is by nature a grumpy, old hermit and would tell me to buzz off.
Fortunately, he likes to take a siesta every day after lunch. That’s my me time, my writing time. If I were good and wrote every day, those two or three hours would be sufficient to accomplish my writing goals, but during the upheaval of our relocation I let my writing slide. Now, it’s like I’ve fallen off the horse and forgotten how to get back on. Whenever a writer tells you how important a regular writing schedule is, LISTEN TO THEM. It is so much harder to get your groove back once you’ve lost it.
Last year, for the first time in five years, I didn’t have a new book out. I’m determined not to let that happen again. I know myself and my level of ambition and motivation—I’m not likely to want to do what it takes to publish two or three titles a year—but I do want to publish one book a year on a steady, routine basis. This year, SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS TALES is on target for a fall release, and I’ve started the second book in my female bodyguard series. I know I can finish that one next year if I muster the necessary self-discipline.
To help keep me on track, I’ve recently connected with two new critique partners, fellow Roses of Prose. I’m now responsible to other writers to produce pages on a regular basis for the first time in years. I’m excited by the possibilities. Wish me luck!