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?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!