One of my more recent pleasures since the book came out is getting to know other authors. Staying true to the creativity theme of 2012, romance writer Mimi Barbour is joining us today, writing about something I can only dream of: creativity in retirement. Take it away, Mimi!
Use it or lose it! As retirement approached that old saying kept reverberating, haunting me. I worried that there wasn’t heaps of brainpower left to take any chances on losing even a little bit. So I decided the answer was to keep busy, get involved and learn something new.
I tried ceramics and stained glass, quilting and cross-stitch. They were just too much work. All that stitching, glass cuts and cleaning up my messes, (you wouldn’t believe the messes!) exhausted me. I needed something that would be less taxing, more fun.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived with this force inside to create something that would make me proud—an endeavour that would delight my family and also keep my juices flowing. Since I've read thousands of romance books, and everyone knows how easy they are to write (uh-huh), I decided this cushy pastime would fill my days and keep my mind occupied.
How could a mature (notice I didn't say old) woman be so…so dumb?
But in my defence, it did seem like a good idea, and so I got started—wrote the first book. Now you might ask yourself, where do the ideas come from? My best professional answer is…heck if I know! For me they magically appear after reading a particularly funny article or watching an appealing show on television. It’s not the whole story, you understand, just that one small glimpse of a character, or it could be a little nudge about a ‘what-if’ scenario where maybe an angel has to kick-start a shy young woman to get on with it, live up to her potential, and then be happy with who she is.
Remember though, books don’t get out there by themselves. I needed help to market this…ahhh ‘bestseller’. (Unknowledgeable about protocol in the business, I actually sent it along to a top New York agent, Donald Maas, with instructions for him to tell Nora Roberts to move over because there was a new author in town.) Still have a copy of the e-mail, and blush when I remember how serious I was, but it is sort of funny.
Not hearing back from Donald, I decided that I would do more research and used the Internet, but this didn't work. Feedback from real people, living breathing individuals who were either going through, or had gone through, the same experiences would be a far better way to learn what was necessary. You know the old saying – search and you shall find? Well that's what happened with me.
I joined a local RWA (Romance Writers of America) group and met wonderful, giving, kind-hearted ladies who were happy to share their knowledge with a raw beginner…and trust me, some of my questions were pretty silly and naïve. Their patience was unending, more than I deserved and they took me to a place where I began to gain knowledge and the confidence to create a book that made me proud. Back in those days my stubbornness carried me through so many setbacks. Persistence and my new found love with being a writer kept me glued to my computer.
Slowly, I became involved with other groups, pushed myself to promote my work, and even entered contests. That was scary! But doing so opened the door for me to be published with Wild Rose Press. This time I didn't hesitate to join their loop and interact with their super friendly group of authors. Once again, in this my new career, I found strength and unprecedented support. Women who I interacted with online, people I never saw in my life, became my friends. Not just co-authors, but honest-to-goodness pals. I suffered their bad reviews and celebrated their successes, as they did mine. They made the introverted daily grind behind my lonely computer screen something to look forward to—even enjoy, because I wasn't really alone.
Since then, I've reached out to many others and realized I've come full circle. I now have something to share and give back. Over time, I've learned so much about this wonderful profession, and now it's my turn to repay. I've managed to create something lasting, a gift worth more than wealth—friendships that make me truly happy and a career that has given this old brain more activity than it should be subjected to.
I do love these golden years!
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Thanks for letting me visit your lovely blog, Toby. I did have fun with this post!
Oh, I can soooo relate to what Mimi is saying. I always wanted to write but didn’t really get serious until I ‘retired’. But it isn’t easy for many different reasons and there’s always more to learn. At least, like Mimi, I can now give a little back.
And boy, do you Greta! I love your books!
Just like Greta, I didn’t get serious until I left work. I was a nurse and the NHS closed my hospital, so rather than be redeployed to the big, local hospital, I decided to go back to writing. I’d written quite a lot when the children were little and I dug it out and tried to begin again. I found working alone difficult after many years of working in a very sociable environment and I think I had to get over leaving my job before I could really concentrate. I’m about to e-publish my first novel, Chasing the Wind, which is part of a trilogy and I find every little step I take strengthens me for the next one. Thank you for this article Mimi, I found it really encouraging.
Congrats on your upcoming novel, and I’m so glad you came back to writing!
It’s so nice to meet other ladies who are struggling in the same way. I have to admit to taking a little longer to ‘getting’ things – since it’s a whole new techie language out there – but it’s a heck of a lot better than crosswords!! LOL