Yes, RETIRED!! Oh, I know, I know, some folks equate that with boredom, loss of purpose, reduced income, you know the drill. I could go on and on. So let me tell you what "retirement" means to me. It means--PERPETUAL summer vacation! PERPETUAL. SUMMER. VACATION. How many kids have dreamed of that?!
Now, I've got several advantages over a lot of folks going into retirement and I know it. First, my husband and I raised three kids on a shoestring, we don't have expensive tastes, we enjoy the simple things of life, and we've lived on a much lower income with a lot more debt. Second, as a writer, I have a whole 'nother career aside and apart from my "day" career and have had for some time now. I'm a writer (well, duh). That career hasn't been very active for the last couple of years for one simple reason. No matter how healthy and active any (average) individual is, one simply cannot do at 40 what one could do at 30, one cannot do at 50 what one could do at 40, and one cannot do at 62 what they could do at 50. Or even at 55. Something's gotta give. For the last two years, the writer surrendered to the demands of the paralegal. Yes, in my day job I've been in a law office for more years than I care to count. Longer than the younger attorneys I've worked for these past few years have been alive. And in retrospect, I guess that was only fair, given all the colorful characters and insider knowledge of the legal system my paralegal career's given me over the years. I've used that insider knowledge in my books for years, and I'll certainly use it in the future because the paralegal's time is done.
Now the writer can return to the work-in-progress that's been in static condition for far too long. See, there comes a point during the writing of every book when the author has to either get on the roller coaster and ride it till it's done, or stay off it entirely. The background's set, you know your characters (more or less, one of 'em's always ready to stab you in the back, but hey! No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader), you've got at least a target climax in mind. All that you can work on more or less at your own pace, and in my current work-in-progress, I reached that point long ago. But after that? Well, after that, you have to actually put yourself in the world you've created and live there. The best explanation of that I can come up with is to say it's rather like deciding to get pregnant on purpose. It's commitment. The point of no return. The book and the characters take over your life, waking, eating, sleeping. It's a place you enter and don't come out of until the demands of the real world yank you out for short visits with reality. I don't mean you sit and type for hours and hours each and every day (though sometimes that does happen), I mean that even when you're doing something else, your mind, or at least a large subconscious part of it, remains in that world. There's no "oh, I'll think about it again on Saturday afternoon." No, you won't. Because by then, you've lost the momentum. You're not on the roller coaster anymore. You've gotten off and you've got to start over.
It's damn scary, is what it is. It's voluntary entry into a world that's real only to you, and you're doing so in the hope (because there's never any guarantee) that you can make that world real for your readers.
That's where I am in my current work-in-progress (WIP in writer lingo). It's the second book in the Southern Justice series. So of course readers can visit with a few old friends from Country Justice. I've taken a few weeks' break after retirement and I'm ready to hop on the Black Turkey Walk roller coaster and ride it to the end.
Thirty years ago, two children played in the twilight on the creek banks down near the swampy bogs the town folk call Black Turkey Walk. Only one made it home alive. Who killed Tommy Milner? Nobody knows, and the shadow of his death still hangs heavy over the little town of Turkey Creek. It hangs heaviest over his sister Lucy Elliott, now all grown up with a family of her own. A family she’s bringing home, back to Turkey Creek. And that’s a decision she might not be able to live with. You see, there’s been another murder down there in the bogs, right off Black Turkey Walk. A murder strikingly similar to Tommy’s. Maybe—just maybe—solving this new murder will solve Tommy’s. Sometimes justice takes a long time in coming. And the best justice is Southern Justice.
Now, for what happens when real life intrudes--like on the first two days of my retirement--hop over to my "Country Kitchen" blog, Flowers on the Fence. Cause sometimes, life just doesn't go like you planned. And you know what? That's a wonderful thing. Because it's the unplanned things that so frequently give you the greatest pleasure and call up the most wonderful memories.