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I’m starting my writerly year with a retrospective of the ten years I’ve been writing creatively. My writing quest was to transition from my adored speech-language pathology into retirement. A means to explore hobbies and interests unattempted in my life, so that there’d be no regrets when I exited this life. Thus, the reward was instant when I put pen to paper to grab the brass ring of writing!
Prodded by this month’s question, I found some unintended regrets from my encore career’s first decade:
- I wish I’d begun sooner. Writing out feelings to better process them and then applaud or discard would have been useful during my breast cancer journey, the death of my parents and the resultant family discord as we handled their estate. Quibble, quabble, quip! I could have rehearsed my remarks on paper, winnowing out the worst angry words. I could have self-soothed when I was gutted by others’ words.
- I wish I hadn’t worried about not having an MFA and focused more on the previously unseen kudos I’d received for my writing. For example, being selected for a new honors curriculum to mentor young women entering Purdue, a college renowned for being largely male engineering and ag students… based on the essay of my college application. (in the background you might spy a portrait of collegiate me) Further, always receiving As on papers written almost effortlessly, sometimes earning me a request to meet with a prof, perhaps to assure himself that this freckled, fresh-faced young woman could write with a mighty voice.
These regrets are balanced by several more rewards:
- as stated earlier, I closed my lucrative – and cherished – private practice. I’d specialized in toddlers and had gained fame. But when the toddler clients became tyrants, I closed my practice, without a look back, because I like writing more. One could hit the Delete key if one didn’t like a character’s behavior, something not possible with paying parents of the tiny tyrants….
- I feel fulfilled in my encore career whereas other Boomers my age feel sidelined after retirement. I don’t need to reminisce about the good old days because I have great days now!
- I’ve received kudos and awards that revitalize my will and intent to write. I’ve written a series (!) let alone one book. I also have published two short story anthologies. Who cares if I haven’t achieved the financial success of my career in speech-language pathology! I’m not rusting out or fading away…. I’m keeping my word nerd skills alive and well. I have purpose. I’m using my gift.