As I approach a very big birthday—a birthday well past the usual age of retirement—I ask myself: when will I stop writing? All of my non-writer friends are now retired. Some of them babysit young grandchildren. Most of them play canasta or Mahjongg. Regardless of their activities, their working days are over. Mine sure aren't. I find that I'm busier than ever writing mysteries, promoting my books, writing blogs, and going to conferences. My writer friends are doing pretty much the same. Which makes me wonder—when does a writer stop writing?
Like me, many of my writer friends pursued other careers in their earlier years. Some were teachers, librarians, journalists, lawyers. The list goes on. Perhaps it's because we started our career as fiction writers later in life that we continue into our sixties, seventies, and eighties. Writing books, fulfilling contracts, doing readings—whatever the job requires.
These past ten years I appreciated having had books to write and writing-related chores to carry out to keep me on track. Writing fills my days as it gives my days structure. I found this especially valuable when my husband was very ill then died; when I was in treatment for Stage Four Lymphoma. I had an obligation to finish a book. Though I'm currently under contract, I'm pretty sure I'd continue to write more books even if I weren't. I would return to series that I had to abandon in order to work on other books. Spending time each day writing at my computer has become a way of life.
Sometimes I wish I had more free time—to lunch more frequently with friends and not have to work into the evening. I suppose the day will come when I'll realize I can no longer fulfill my writing obligations, and I'll stop doing what's been my life these past thirty-some-odd years. Then I'll write my last chapter, bid good-bye to my readers, and spend my days reading and socializing—or whatever retired people do. But until then I'll continue to write for as long as I can.