Once I retired at age 65 from my salaried position as a major gifts officer for an independent day school, I got to focus on my passion: writing historical fiction. I’d started writing my first historical novel at the age of 29 and after years of rejections by editors and rewriting the manuscript to respond to their feedback, I finally stuck it in a drawer. At last, at age 65, I embarked on my new career as an author of historical novels. The first one was published two years after I retired.
It has been a huge treat to have the opportunity to be able to concentrate deeply on the characters, the plot, the time period, the research, the writing and rewriting of a novel—at last! The characters speak to me while I’m showering or driving a car or waking up in the morning. I enjoy their company so much that I don’t want anything or anyone to intrude on our on-going discussion. I focus so intently that I barely register the phone ringing or the FedEx knock on the door. I’ve been able to indulge my ability to concentrate.
The thing is, at the same time I seem to be losing my ability to multitask. I first noticed this when I was talking to my husband while driving and I flew past my exit without even noticing. It’s sort of amusing to observe this in myself. I was certainly able to multitask all those years I was a single mother raising a daughter, with a full-time job, a dog, a house, aunts and uncles, lots of cousins, and some very good friends.
Does it have to be like this: the more I concentrate, the less I’m available to the people in my life? Is this why the Acknowledgements section of novels always include heartfelt thanks to the author’s family for forgiving her absences? Does concentration come at the cost of relationship? I hope not.