Friday, February 26, 2010

The Golden Years?

Hi Everyone!

I’d like to introduce myself; I’m Laurie, and I’m pleased to join the Working Stiffs as a contributor. I also would like to thank the Working Stiffs for welcoming me.

This is a metamorphosis of sorts . . . last year on this exact same Friday morning in February, I went to work and turned in my inventory -- complete with credentials, weapon, raid gear, handcuffs, vest and laptop. It was by far one of the oddest days I have ever experienced. After working at the same post of duty as a criminal investigator since the age of twenty-two, I would not return after I left at the end of the day.

Who knew then that one year later, I would be in the process of writing the first draft of a traditional mystery, and here with the Working Stiffs?

When I woke up that February morning a year ago, it wasn’t what I previously imagined my last day of work to feel like. I wasn’t giddy as I had imagined I would be -- doing cartwheels, jumping up and down, or hooting and hollering. No, instead I was strangely quiet. To say that the day was surreal is an understatement.

Over the years, I had seen other agents clean out their desks, turn in their gear and retire to the land of “sunshine and lollipops.” At least, I thought they did. Now one year later, and strange as it might sound, I don’t know if it has yet sunk in. I am retired? Really? No, that can’t be right, I think, as I shake my head. In fact, I still get excited for a brief moment at the thought of an upcoming legal holiday and a day off work . . . until I remind myself that I am retired and a legal holiday is now like any other day.

Perhaps it is because I didn’t give myself the time to just sit back and enjoy the “sunny and relaxing” days of retirement, which, by the way, is somewhat hard to do in March in northeastern Ohio. No, instead I immediately started writing lists and planning what to do next. I quickly tired of people asking me how I was spending my time after retirement: “Did I have a new job?” I felt uneasy that for the first time in my life, I was doing…nothing.

First off, I was too young (in my mind) to be retired. When contemplating retirement and weighing the pros and cons, I hadn’t considered this con. I didn’t know then that merely saying I was retired would somehow make me feel older. “Retirees” receive discounts on their cups of coffee and movie admissions and young people gently hold open their doors. Chronologically, I don’t qualify for any of those amenities. However, merely stating that I was a retiree made me feel as though I should.

To sum this all up (before I make myself feel any older), on this, my one-year retirement anniversary, it feels a little bit like a divorce. A year later, I’m still adjusting to the separation, but I’m looking forward to what lies ahead. I’m learning its okay to sometimes “just be,” and retirement doesn’t need to signify age. Instead it’s a wonderful opportunity to revisit childhood ambitions, previously not pursued.

I have always harbored a desire to write and since my retirement, that’s what I’ve been doing. However, since I haven’t had anything published, I feel a little awkward saying I’m a writer and when asked, I say I’m retired.

The next time someone asks me “what I do,” I would like to instead say -- I’m, you guessed it …writing.

What do you think? Can I say I’m a writer even though I’m new to writing?


Gina said...

Laurie -
Say you're writing. Then people will either ask what you've had published or, more likely, start telling you their brilliant idea for a book that they will let you write for them. Then you will run screaming from the room.

ramona said...

Hi Laurie. Congratulations on your retirement anniversary!

Are you a "real" writer? You answered your own question when you wrote that you always wanted to write, and now you are doing it. Add that you have a work in progress in a specific genre, and you have left "wannabe" way behind. You are definitely a writer.

I don't know any retired writers. Interesting.

(Has anyone told you about the Guppies?)

Joyce said...

Welcome to the Stiffs, Laurie.

You're definitely a writer! Whether you've been published or not doesn't matter.

And calling yourself a writer kind of makes it official. No more dabbling. It's now a job instead of a hobby.

Jennie Bentley said...

Welcome to the Stiffs, Laurie! You do realize we'll all be emailing you with shop questions, right? In fact, I can think of a few right now...

But I'll control myself. Yes, you're allowed to say you're a writer. If you write, you're a writer. Usually, people wait to call themselves authors until they're published, but even that's sort of loosy-goosy.

I hear the Guppies are really good. I know that Sisters in Crime is an excellent organization; I just never joined the Guppies myself. But we have a few Guppies here on the grog, I believe.

Another great organization for unpublished writers is RWA. The romance writers have chapters almost everywhere, and the parent organization does some of the best publishing research in the field. You don't have to write romance to join; I'm a member, and I write mysteries. I also know a lot of other people who are members, who write all sorts of things, from thrillers to sci-fi and fantasy and horror. Just FYI.

Anonymous said...

Gina, Ramona, Joyce, and Jennie...thank you for the support in saying that I'm a writer. I appreciate it.

Thank you for the congratulations on my retirement anniversary.

-Yes, I have joined the Guppies and Sisters in Crime...they're both great!

I'm going to look into the RWA. I didn't realize it was for writers of all genres. Thanks for the suggestion and feel free to email me anytime :-)

Annette said...

Welcome to the Stiffs, Laurie. I agree with what's been said. You're definitely a writer. Commas be damned! (Sorry, folks. That's an inside joke.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Annette! :-)

Jennie Bentley said...

Well... technically, RWA promotes romance fiction. But it's open to those of us who write in other genres, as well. Especially as there's so much crossover. Romantic suspense, romantic thriller, romantic mystery; besides, most of us have a little bit of romance in our books, don't we? Some of the best relationships I've ever read are in books other than straight romances. Russ and Clare? Peter and Harriet? Eve and Roarke? Amelia and Emerson? Cordelia and Aral?

Check it out, anyway. They're great, and very supportive.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Working Stiffs, Laurie! Glad to have you here. And, yep, go ahead and call yourself a writer!


Anonymous said...

Paula and everyone else who has kindly commented...

Thank you for the warm welcome and for supporting my desire to say I'm a writer.

Melissa said...

Laurie, you ARE a writer! And you will eventually be a PUBLISHED writer! How wonderful that you have all that law background to pull out of your mental data banks. That puts you well ahead of a lot of other folks.

Jemi Fraser said...

You're a writer! Welcome to the club - it's a great club. One of the best fringe benefits is the friends you will make :)

MaryQ said...

Laurie - welcome and congrats on your one year anniversary of retirement.
Sure, you can call yourself a writer. If you write, you're a writer. That's my philosophy anyway.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, Jemi, Mary -
Thank you!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I agree with MaryQ -- if you write, you're a writer. Good luck with your projects.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Patricia!

PatRemick said...

Welcome Laurie! You're going to have a blast here! SinC and Guppies are great for support. Glad you've found 'em both -- and us!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Pat!