Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why Start a New Career in Your Mid-Seventies?

Many people ask me why a person of such “advanced age” as I am would start a new career as an author. They want to know why I don’t “lean back and enjoy my ‘golden years.’” The short answer to those questions is, “To stay fully alive.”

I observed the men of my parents’ generation retire and slowly fade away once they lost the motivation and satisfaction of earning a living. Those who farmed seemed to fare best, and I think I know the reason. After turning over responsibility for their farms to their sons, those old men just kept on working. They might not be able to do the heavy work anymore, but they were always busy doing something to make the enterprise successful. I suspect that older women live longer because they have always done this.

The men who spent their lives laboring in the mills, refineries, and oilfields weren’t so focused after retirement. Many took the approach that it was time to “rest up” from their years of labor. The advent of television exacerbated their decline. Sitting and watching the magic screen for hours at a time led to muscle shrinkage and loss of strength. The less they did, the less they could do. However, those with active hobbies were less prone to fall into this trap.

I resolved when I retired from my City Engineer job that I would stay active. I have a number of hobbies, woodworking among them. Building furniture and built-ins kept me involved for a number of years. Then, after two months-long projects, I began to lose interest. I found myself plowing through five or six novels a week, spending far too much time in my recliner chair. My strength was definitely fading. I was succumbing to getting old.
My daughter-in-law, Susan, refocused me when she pointed out a long article on e-book publishing in the Washington Post. I’d been writing novels as another hobby for years and had a manuscript that had been polished by an agent but not sold to a publisher. My wife, Annette, said, ”Go for it.”

After reading up on the subject, I uploaded Fall Eagle One to Amazon Kindle and put it on the market.  A year of learning the electronic book marketing game quickly followed. My daughter, Karen Williams, introduced me to Facebook and Twitter and built for me a wonderful author’s website.  I began writing a blog on a regular basis. As word about my novel spread, it climbed into the upper one percent of Kindle sales.  My second novel, Hold Back the Sun, achieved similar status after just a few weeks on the market.

I look forward to getting up each morning and checking on the status of my books. I have twice daily advertising periods to take care of. My creative juices flow and carry along the progress of my next novel. My mind is definitely sharper than it was two years ago. I am also more physically capable.  Earlier today, I was laying new sod in my front yard. In other words, I am much more alive than I felt a few years ago. It’s nice, of course, to watch my modest stream of royalties continue to roll in. But the most important result of my writing is my improved quality of life.

No comments:

Post a Comment