Today, I read a piece in The Boston Globe called, Retirement’s soft landings, by Susan Trausch. She talks about how difficult the transition is from doing whatever it is you’ve been doing all these years, to not doing it, even if you are, in fact, doing something. Lots of people look forward to retirement as the time when they can finally do all the things they’ve been putting off because they didn’t have time. (This assumes, of course, that they’ve socked away enough money.)
My father thinks that since I’m not actively looking for a job out of the house, that I’ve retired. He tells me I’m too young to retire. I explain that I haven’t retired. If I hadn’t been laid off, I wouldn’t have been considering retirement. My war chest wasn’t full yet, and there weren’t a bunch of things I dreamed of doing that I wasn’t; except for one.
I always wanted to be a writer, so I decided to take the opportunity of my unemployment to write a book. I spent the first year learning and creating, and for the most part I was happy. As the second year begins, I’m trying to sell my creation, and I’m experiencing rejection. This is not the fun part of being a writer. This is the part that makes you question whether or not you should be looking for a ‘real’ job.
Before you all jump in to reassure me that all the best writers suffered plenty of rejection, let me state, unequivocally, that I know that. I fully expected the same. What I did not anticipate was how debilitating rejection can be. I repeat my mantras, “It’s just one person’s opinion,” and “Publishing is so subjective,” and still I sleep later, nap more, and spend too much time staring vacantly out the window. And last week, I went tilt; I looked at job listings on Craigslist.
There was one job that seemed tailor made for a marketing professional trying to ease into (or out of) work, twenty hours a week, excellent hourly wage, flexible schedule. It had my name all over it. The more I thought about applying, the more panicky I became. It took me a while, but I realized that looking at job listings was a fear response on my part, my version of fight or flight. Coming up with a plot for a new novel was going to be very hard, looking for a job was the best way to run away from the problem.
Trausch said, “Some people call retirement “the pasture,” but it’s really more like an airport and the departures and landings are endless.” Sounds like when you retire you give up the fight, in exchange for a lot of flights. I’m not ready to do that. If living the life of a writer means experiencing rejection, even as you continue to write, then I’ll just have to forge ahead. Besides, who can afford to fly in this economy?