Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Retirement & Writing Time

Yesterday I received an email, part of which said this:

I came across your blog and then checked out your website as I was doing research on retiree blogs. I'm curious to know what you think about working in retirement and writing in retirement. Do you feel freer to write now than you did before retirement? Do you feel pressure to work part-time?

This started me thinking about those two last questions. The short answer to the first one: yes; to the second one: no.

Now for the long answers that might give a bit more info about me to some of you who know me only from this blog (and those of you who know me only too well can just skip to the end):

Q. Do you feel freer to write now than you did before retirement?

A. Yes. I don’t have quite as many obligations that I must tend to first. I also can pick what time I write. My ideas flow best mid-morning and late night—times that weren’t convenient when I worked.

I also have the freedom to read. I read considerably more in retirement than I did when I worked. When I was teaching, I had limited reading time. Now, if I’m really into a book, I can read half the night. Reading books by good writers helps my writing, too. I’m a much better writer than I was a decade ago.

Retirement has allowed me time to participate in writing-related activities. I’m an active member of two writing groups—Lake Writers (the literary branch of the Smith Mountain Arts Council) and the Valley Writers Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Three friends and I recently formed a critique group for the children’s literature that we write—three of us are members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Plus I’m active in the Roanoke Valley Branch of the League of American Pen Women. Before retirement, I rarely attended a writing conference; now I attend three or four a year. I’ve learned a lot about the publishing process since I retired.

Since retiring, I’ve self-published my novel Patches on the Same Quilt, the cost of the first press run of a thousand was partially underwritten by the Smith Mountain Arts Council; I’m now two-thirds through the second thousand) and used a print-on-demand publisher for two collections of previously published short stories (The Girl Who Raced Mules & Other Stories and Where There’s A Will) and for two collections of my column (Peevish Advice and More Peevish Advice). Self-publishing requires considerable time and effort for promotion—hard to do for those who work full-time. I’ve had a few things published commercially— a story in A Cup of Comfort for Writers, for example, and I’m using retirement time to submit other work to commercial publishers.

Q. Do you feel pressure to work part-time?

A. Not at all. Now that I get both state retirement and social security, I can maintain a modest lifestyle without “having” to work. I write “Peevish Advice,” a humor column twice a month for the Smith Mountain Eagle. The column takes less than two hours to write. When I freelance, I can accept assignments that interest me, so they’re more like fun rather than work. I used to say I wrote for gas money, but—since the increase in gas prices—I now write for pocket money.

Much of my writing is for my own enjoyment—I blog several times a week. While I don’t make money blogging, I get satisfaction from writing what I want to write. My blog is a letter I write to my friends. I also write essays and short stories for writing contests, I’m seeking a publisher for my Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story, and I’m working on a middle-grade novel.

When I took early retirement from teaching in 1997, I was still obligated to work 20 days a year for five years as a “consultant” for Roanoke City Public Schools. In 1999, when my husband and moved to rural Franklin County, I took what I thought was a one-semester job as an adjunct at Ferrum College. Because I worked only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I could still fulfill my Roanoke City obligations. I finally left my “one-semester job” in 2006, and thought I was officially retired. Then I received an offer to be 2006-2007 writer-in-residence For Roanoke County Schools. This job required I work 35 days. I took it. In September 2007, I became eligible for social security and decided I was indeed officially retired—no more part-time teaching jobs. Working part-time was a nice way to ease into full retirement.

I really don’t think of writing as a job—more like a hobby that earns me a bit of pocket money from time to time. However, if I succeed in selling a book to a commercial publisher, then it’ll become a job again.

So, gentle Blogger-buddies (several of whom I know are retired), what are your answers to those two questions?

Since the reporter, Liz Wolgemuth, had provided a link to her own blog, The Inside Job, I decided to check it out. She writes about some interesting stuff. Another blog to add to my growing list of blogs I like to read.

Thank goodness I’m retired and have more time to read!




Blogger Amy Tate said...

You sound busier now than you did before you retired! I've heard that's often true.

4:07 PM  
Blogger CountryDew said...

I am glad you're making the most of your time. I enjoyed reading your answers to these questions.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

I will never be able to retire. We were self-employed for years and I didn't pay into social security. Wish we would have gotten better advice.

Yes, I felt pressured to take a part-time job--as you know. It is interfering with my writing. I blame it on the gas prices which caused everything else to go up.

10:23 PM  

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