Monday, February 23, 2015

On Being a Writer: Downsizing the Workload

The downsizing of my workload is coming.

In May, I retire from the day job. I’m a little on the early side, but it was just time to retire.

The decision started to be made about a year ago. The discussions with everyone involved (lawyer, accountant, etc.)  started about then. I told the company in June that I was looking at the spring, but I gave them a range of September to April. Early May is the final date.

Planning for retirement is work. Meetings, legal stuff, accounting stuff, financial planning stuff, medical benefits stuff, lots of stuff, paperwork, phone calls, emails. My wife has done most of the work, but all kinds of things have to be talked through and decided.

But now it’s starting to become real.

I will miss the people I work with. I am part of a digital team, and they are good, skilled, competent people to work with.

But I am not one of those people who have to be pushed out the door. For me, the door won’t open fast enough.

The next part of planning for retirement is planning what I’ll be doing. Writing, most certainly. Perhaps some volunteer work. Seeing more of the grandsons (with Number 3 coming in late May). Continuing to work with my online colleagues at Tweetspeak Poetry and The High Calling. Perhaps doing some freelance work in social media and speechwriting. Plus whatever the Lord decides to move in my way.

But my focus is narrowing considerably. And that’s a good thing.

Retirement may actually help me decide what I want to be when I grow up.

Ann Kroeker, in On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts (co-authored with Charity Craig), describes the experience of a friend who was gifted in both music and communication, but had to make a choice in college for her major. “She ended up choosing communication,” Kroeker says, “Everything else dropped down a notch. She had to limit herself to fully develop herself.”

That’s what I feel is happening with me right now. Retirement is in effect forcing me to limit myself, forcing me to focus, forcing me to answer some questions.

How serious do I want to get with poetry?

What do I do with all those Dancing Priest manuscripts gathering pixel dust on the computer? Michael and Sarah have a coronation ahead, right? And more children. And upheavals with both the church and the government. And then their children have stories.

Aside from those, another manuscript is waiting for me to decide what to do; it’s tentatively entitled Plain Sam. And an extended outline called Summer of Joe. And a novella about a musician and an attorney.

And the poetry. Always the poetry, bubbling, waiting, wondering.

This is where my heart is. And the time for focus and developing is imminent.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been discussing On Being a Writer by Ann Kroeker and Charity Craig. This chapter, “Limit,” is the last one in the book. Finishing it is like leaving a good friend. If you’re looking for a book about writing filled with common sense, experience and wisdom, this one is it.

Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Maureen said...

The wonderful thing about retiring is that YOU get to decide. Good planning makes the next phase better, and you're doing everything the right way. It will be exciting to learn about your "what's next" decisions.

Ann Kroeker said...

As you enter a season of "Limit" it does seem to be expanding your possibilities in new ways, focused ways, creative ways. As Maureen points out, you get to decide what you want to "major" in. Thank you for blogging through the book, chapter by chapter, pulling back the curtain on your writing life so others can see what it's like to work and write and publish and interact on social media.

I hope this next phase is rich and rewarding, Glynn. I'm so glad that of the things you'll be continuing, you and I will continue to overlap and interact.

Bless you during these last couple of months!

Anonymous said...

Glynn, I especially appreciate this post, because my husband has finally agreed to retire in December. I wanted him to retire at least 3 years ago. Alas....I must submit to his wisdom, and we are putting our daughter through college. I too think of limiting....not just with Michael in mind, but because of life's brevity. As I age, I think about that a lot. We've lost several friends, either younger or just slightly older than we. And as far as that goes, in once sense, all any of us has is a day--just this day. We have no guarantees of any more. Rather than allowing that to depressed me (my natural tendancy), I'm trying to see it as a wake-up impetus to limit, focus, and seize the day. All the best upon your retirement.

Martha Jane Orlando said...

I'm certain that retirement will be rich and rewarding for you, Glynn. I, for one, would love to see more poetry and more of Dancing Priest! Hope you'll go for it when the time comes.

Louise Gallagher said...

Your wisdom and poetic view of life and living with heart shine through in every word Glynn.

I love how conscious you are of each step, and how thoughtful you are in your 'growing up'.

When I grow up, I want to be just like you! :)

Okay, maybe not just like you, but I sure want some of your poetry!