Perhaps the question should actually be: would a writer ever want to retire?
I don’t know. Currently, I can’t imagine ever not writing. What would I do with myself? Even if I’m not writing for clients (a rare event, granted, but sometimes my evening and weekends allow a little me time), I’m writing for myself. Novels, short stories, the occasional poem, even the odd blog post now and then (yes, it happens!)… It’s what I love to do the most.
Writing is a strange thing. As the old saying goes, even when a writer isn’t actually writing, they’re thinking about writing. They want to be writing.
So is there really any such things as a former writer? Someone who used to write for a living and now just doesn’t. And if these people do exist, how have they filled the void that used to be all about the words? Writing is, for many, a part of themselves. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling. And to give that up for something else, or to give that up for nothing at all, it just doesn’t seem possible.
One of my favourite authors, Stephen King, retired once. Guess what he did during his retirement from writing? He wrote. And then he was published. And then he wasn’t retired anymore (not that he ever had been, in my opinion). He just couldn’t help himself, and I, for one, am grateful for that.
But then, what about Shakespeare? In 1613 he just stopped. No more plays, no more sonnets. Of course, for some this is more proof of the astonishing, fascinating, and almost believable conspiracy theory that Shakespeare never actually existed in the first place (more on that in a later blog).
Charles Dickens carried out what can only be described as a ‘farewell tour’, travelling the country and reading his last novel, Our Mutual Friend. Only it wasn’t his last novel because when he died in 1870, he was halfway through writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Strangely, and rather wonderfully, this novel (half novel) was actually published in its unfinished state.
Let me know – could you retire? Would you retire? Do you know someone who has and are they any happier for it? Or do they still dip their pens into the ink every now and then when they think no one is looking? I am not sure that someone who used to write would be able to wake up one day and say, “No more. Today is the day I will not type a single word. And I never will again either.”
And what about other careers – are any of them really so easy to step away from? Contact me or leave a comment and tell me what you think!