Next month I turn 60, and I truly never believed that I would be this old. When I was a teenager, I was convinced I would die an early death. On the other hand, I had a hard time visualizing me being a 60-year-old geezer, sitting around in my rocking chair talking about the good old days. Well children, I have news for you. Old age comes for all of us, if we are lucky.
In the meantime, my life is far from over. I am looking forward to retirement one of these days, not because I long for a rocking chair, but because I long for a computer keyboard. I have at least a dozen books still in me that are begging to come out. And as I have said before, I plan on being buried with my laptop, preferably with wifi access. Because when I am not writing stories from beyond the grave, I will be checking my reviews and ranking on Amazon.
One of the things I was sure to tell my journalism students this semester was that if they didn’t love writing, they were in the wrong major. And that’s a fact. The same thing goes for those of you who want to be best-selling authors. The joy is in the journey, not in arriving. Because I am coming to the realization that you never actually get “there,” wherever “there” is. Even if I am fortunate enough to have a best-selling book, what then? You spend several months or a year promoting it, traveling ad nauseum, speaking on TV and radio (been there, done that), signing autographs (ditto), and then you get a check with half of it sent to the IRS. What’s next? If you’re lucky, before you even get started with the promotion of that book, you are already writing another one. Because, as we all know, a writer is only as good as his or her next book.
Money comes and goes (been there, too). Fame is fleeting. The only thing that matters to me is writing stories that people want to read. Obsessive? Yes. But I do it because I love it, not because I plan on being rich and famous. And I thank God that I am a long way from running out of stories.
Are we there yet? I will be there when they pry my keyboard out of my cold, dead fingers.
And maybe not even then.