Friday, August 17, 2007

The Gift of Time

Friday, August 17, 2007

While nearing the finish line of my twenty-year career in Information Technology -- during that marvelous time between announcing my leaving the company and saying my good-byes -- I began to worry that forty-five years old was too young to sit at home watching soaps. Indeed, my coworkers chorused that a stress junky like myself would come crawling back within six months begging for a fix. I assured them that I would find plenty to keep me busy, but underneath that cheerful facade, I felt they were right. That gut feeling grew into a nagging ball of fear as my retirement date crept near.

Eight years later, I know that there was nothing to fear. I've been wrong about numerous things in my life, but I've never missed the mark so much as that time. What I didn't realize then is that you never stop working, never stop doing things. The difference is, back then I worked to pay the mortgage, now I work to enrich myself and those around me. It's amazing what happens when you have all your time to command as you wish. The possibilities become infinite. The principle joys in life -- for me it's my partner Herman, writing, tennis, and traveling -- bubble to the top of the to-do list, and those things comfortably fill the hours, minutes, and seconds of each day. That's the wonderful aspect of retirement; you devote all your time to what you love. The flip side is that you spend no time doing what you hate -- sitting bumper to bumper, nagging bosses, back-biting coworkers, project deadlines, system crashes, business lunches, dressing in suits and ties, paying astronomical dry-cleaning bills…I could fill ten pages. Suffice to say, I miss nothing in the corporate world.

Over the years I have fallen into a comfortable routine. I spend May-November at home in San Rafael, California, working on my novels and short stories. During December-April, my lover and I travel (mostly to Asia, but in eight years we've visited over forty countries on five continents.) While at home I'm generally up with the dawn and clock four to five hours of writing before the mind grows weary. I try to write 1,200 words per day, but too often I'm lucky to make 800, and some days it's as little as 200. I take a long mid-day break for lunch, tennis, yard work, and quiet time with Herman. Then late in the afternoon, I crawl back to my computer for another few hours of editing. I also write while traveling, but I'm not nearly so prolific because I spend only a few hours per day at it.

By far the most glorious boon of having heaps of time is being able to dally in my fantasy world: writing stories. It is the only territory where I have complete control over people, places, circumstances, and emotions. And I love being in control. Completing two novels, Island Song and Honor Bound, has been my greatest personal accomplishment, and by far the most difficult. The process is turning me, ever so slowly, into a perfectionist; something I never thought possible. So far, only a handful of friends have read these two stories, although hopefully that will soon change -- Island Song will be published by Zumaya Publications in February of 2008 and I am searching for a publisher for Honor Bound. But of the close friends who have read my manuscripts, almost all have enjoyed my stories to some degree. That generally brings on a mild sensation of euphoria when people connect with my work, and I can't help being amused that I greedily seek their approval. It's childish, I'll grant you, but it validates my hard work and inspires me to improve.

And now I've found a new way to fill the oodles of minutes in the day, by joining the countless others on the net who share their experiences on personal blogs, educating and entertaining us. In future posts I hope to share the thoughts, frustrations, and triumphs of a gay writer struggling for perfection. I hope the few minutes you have spent here has brought you a small degree of bemusement, and has not been a waste of your precious time.

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