I’ve been a writer for most of my eighty-some years. If I had a portfolio, it would include samples of radio and television commercials, TV scripts, grants, public television stories, published fiction and feature articles.
Being a “hired” writer never bothered me. I got paid for playing with words and having them seen and heard by a lot of people. When I left public television to join my already retired husband, the words kept coming and I wrote a book. When the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease locked its sights on him, and our children and I could only watch as it took him away bit by bit, keeping a journal helped relieve the frustration, the anxiety, and the stress of trying to be all that he needed.
When he died, words locked themselves in my head and I couldn’t find a key to unlock them. It was as if all the words I wanted to write left when he left.
I might have accepted it, rationalizing that getting older must mean that the creative part of my brain was done, but the need to play with words remained.
It helped to make lists – to do lists, Christmas giving lists, menus, grocery lists. Working the daily puzzles in the newspaper helped, too, and, while playing word games with my daughter didn’t quite erase the block, it was so satisfying, especially when I won.
It was when my last sibling died that I knew my days as a writer weren’t over. I had started a family history years before, making notes, asking my eight brothers and sisters about their memories of growing up in a first generation Italian family, visiting Ponza, birthplace of our parents, even exploring Ancestry.com.
The first draft of “Following The Past” is complete. Revision is taking time. At eighty-three, I feel much as I used to, polishing words right up to air time, back in the days of Everything Live TV. It’s the rush every writer gets, that of finding the right words. That never goes away, no matter how many years we’ve lived.
I used to think getting older meant giving up things, but I don’t think that now. I know a ninety year old yoga teacher who is more limber than I was in my teens. I know a seventy-five year old who still does landscaping and has his own business and I have a friend who travels the world at eighty-one and only last year stopped working full time.
So, yes, if we’ve a mind to keep doing what we love, we ought to try, no matter how old we are.
I’ll let you know when my book is ready to read.