Going it alone

VivHampshire009Vivien Hampshire tells us about one of the biggest decisions she has ever had to make

When I was young it was the ‘done thing’ for all women to retire at sixty, ready to put their feet up, with their pension and a gold clock safely in hand… but it seems that with every year I got older the rules kept changing in front of me.

Suddenly, quite out of the blue (because I just don’t feel or look that old!), the big birthday was looming up at me, and the new rules said that I was expected to carry on working for another five years… or even more. Oh dear!

I had always hoped that when the ‘day job’ came to its natural end, I would have the freedom and the time to write. More short stories, more articles, some poetry, novels… not just late at night, or squeezed in between coming home from work and making dinner, or on Sundays when everyone was out, but whenever and wherever I wanted to. In the mornings, after a lazy lunch, in the garden in summer, even on the beach…

The thought of that wonderful dangling carrot being snatched away at the last hurdle just didn’t sit comfortably, and so I started looking closely at my finances (mortgage paid, new car that should last me for years, one daughter married off and the other living independently), made enquiries about taking one of my two work pensions early (with a hefty reduction, but it’s worth it), and started to take control!

And now, it’s here: my 60th birthday, and my final day as an employed person, getting up early and going out in all weathers, doing what I’m told to do by someone else – and the start of my new, exciting and slightly scary life as a freelance self-employed FULL-TIME writer!

So, what happens next?

  1.  The pension cheques will just keep rolling in every month without me having to lift a finger, so there’s an income, even  though a slightly lesser one than I’m used to.
  2.  Anyone who calls me ‘retired’ will be severely dealt with. I am still working, just as hard as before, but for myself – and, besides, being called a pensioner makes me sound way too old!
  3.  In theory, at least, I will be able to write more – once family and friends get the idea that me being in my ‘office’ at home does not make me available for phone chats, coffee, shopping, babysitting etc. at the drop of a hat. And more writing time means more stories means more income!
  4. I will, without any more procrastination, get on and finish my novel in progress and get it ‘out there’ to be critiqued and maybe even accepted for publication – in 2014. Without fail. Without doubt. No more excuses.
  5.  In another five years or so, the state pension and my second ‘nest egg’ work pension will kick in, giving me enough to live on quite comfortably for life, even if my writing arm falls off and I never touch a pen or keyboard ever again. As if!  So there’s no risk, is there? Five years to give it my best shot. And, who knows, I could be a bestselling novelist by then. I’m certainly going to give it a damn good try!

6 thoughts on “Going it alone

  1. It seems no time at all since you told of your decision to take hold the reins. With so many writing achievements already ‘under your belt’ I have no doubt we shall see you galloping, well cantering at least, into a productive 2014. May you have great pleasure and success in your ‘new’ career. Wishing you the very best of luck.

  2. A lovely piece,Viv that shows how women still want to work regardless of their age. Furthermore they are still following their dreams! One part of your post had me scuttling to the official pension website. Being only days younger than you the last I’d heard was that my official retirement was when I turned 63 and three months. Nope – someone move the goal post. Retirement is no longer on the horizon as I have to wait until I’m 65 and a few months. Not that I planned to give up penning words!
    Elaine Everest

  3. Viv, I loved reading your piece and I totally admire the fortitude and courage you are showing in the commitment to a new full time career. The dreams don’t stop with age, they may feel scarier and unachievable because of everyday life but there does come a point where it’s important we remember our own dreams. Good luck Viv, I’m sure you will be a success in 2014.

  4. Thanks for the good wishes and encouragement. Sorry to bring you the bad news Elaine – I’m not sure we will EVER catch up with our old age pension date, as it just keeps moving!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.