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.