Thursday, 27 April 2017

Retiring from Writing Would Mean Retiring From Life - Andrew Crofts


People around me seem to mention the word “retirement” a lot, asking one another when they are thinking of taking the plunge. I’m keeping a low profile because I am not sure that, as a lifelong freelance writer, I completely grasp the concept.

Retire from what exactly?



If I wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea for a book, am I going to turn over and go back to sleep rather than follow the train of thought to wherever it might lead me?

If someone emails me from some distant and mysterious land, inviting me to travel to them to hear their story with a view to ghosting for them, am I going to decline because now I am “retired”?

There are aspects of writing which become increasingly tedious with age – typing mainly - but then sitting on a ride-on lawnmower can become tedious after an hour or two, as can sitting in a coffee shop with a newspaper or staring out to sea from a tropical island paradise. None of these things do I particularly want to give up.

What exactly is “work” anyway?

Is raising children or caring for an elderly parent work? I think so.

Is commuting on a crowded train for hours every day work? Most definitely.

I guess if you hate your job then retirement is an attractive option, but are there any freelance writers out there who really hate their work that much? They may have grown tired of dealing with publishers, but now they can bypass all that irritation and publish themselves. They may have grown tired of sitting at screens, but most of us are willing to pay that price for as long as our backs and wrists hold up to the repetitive stresses and strains. Maybe they want more time to indulge in hobbies and interests, but ever since I left school I have been following wherever my interests lead me, while trying to make enough money to keep the family fed and warm, so no change there.

To contemplate retiring from writing seems to me to be the same as contemplating retiring from life, and I haven’t yet fixed a date for that one.  


3 comments:

JO said...

It's an interesting one - and I've scribbled about this a few times in my notebooks, trying to get my head round whether I can call my writing 'work'.

I am, officially, 'retired.' I worked in Child Protection, and now I don't - and I get a pension to prove I'm officially aging,

But I don't fill my time with pottering - and I certainly don't see writing as 'filling time' - it gives me a purpose, it makes me laugh and despair (and travel). But it is 'work', when I'm not entirely dependent on it to put food on the table? I still can't answer that.

Fran B said...

Does it matter whether we call it work or play? I have done paid jobs I loved so much that they were the play in my life. I went home to the unpaid drudgery of housework which never ever feels like play to me. Yet I have known women - and even men - who count cleaning, food-shopping, washing, etc as fun. Gardening is one man/woman's work, another's play. Likewise cooking . . . And writing? It has been for me both work and play, delight and grudgery. It's a catch-me-if-you-can, like all creative endeavours. I know I will never give it up as long as my mind can frame a sentence and my brain conceive an idea.

What really matters, though, is the work/play balance in whatever form that takes for you.

Ann Turnbull said...

I officially retired from doing school visits on my 70th birthday. That was SUCH a good idea! But no, I can't imagine ever retiring from being a writer - and by that I mean a writer who gets their stuff out there and wants to be published and read. I have slowed down a bit, but I'm also trying different things - or things I hadn't done for decades, like writing poetry (and I've already begun sending poems to competitions - I can't help it!) I no longer feel certain of being traditionally published, but I'll happily turn to self-publishing, which has the huge advantages of control and speed!