Living the Dream

I try to avoid talking about purely personal stuff because, unless you happen to know me in real life, I doubt you’d be particularly interested. Well, this is one of those personal posts so feel free to skip it—I won’t take offence.

I can’t place hand on heart and say I’ve wanted to be a writer all of my life. Although I’ve devoured fiction since I first learned to read, and English was comfortably my best subject at school, the notion of becoming a fiction writer didn’t materialise until my mid to late twenties. Then, no sooner had I sat down and started to write the first novel than the urge to become a full-time writer set in and has never left me.

Half of my life, then.

In Taking the Plunge, I wrote about what led to cutting my hours by half in my regular job. That happened in July 2017, after approaching my employers the previous August to request going part-time.

A lot can happen in a year. In my case, for reasons mentioned in that post, my writing output and sales dwindled to virtually nothing. Nevertheless, I was confident I could turn it around once a couple of things had fallen into place.

Now, two years on from going part-time, those things, and more, are in place. The biggies are regaining complete control over my books from the small press publisher, learning how to produce my own covers and paperbacks, designing my own website, and grasping enough about marketing to know how to give my books some sort of visibility. (My struggles with marketing are well documented in the Marketing for Muppets posts.) Apart from using an outside narrator for audio (I did consider narrating myself, but I’m dreadful at accents) and utilising the services of Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, etc to make them available to purchase, I don’t rely on anyone else for any aspect of producing my books.

In short, I have become totally self-sufficient. And I love it.

There is only one fly in my idyllic ointment: for two or three days each week, I have to toddle off to sit in an office and work for someone else. That’s half of each week taken up with doing something I don’t want to do that takes me away from what I love doing.

Despite my writing income having increased steadily over the past year, my wife—the sensible half of our marriage when it comes to financial matters—would not agree to my leaving the regular job because, as she rightly pointed out, book sales could fall away at any time.

I was growing desperate for a way to escape the regular job. Then, in the office a month or two back, a couple of colleagues happened to be discussing pensions, when one of them mentioned we can access our work pension at the age of fifty-five. Guess what age I’m turning in November? It was like a flashbulb going off in my head. My Eureka! moment.

The possibility of taking early retirement hadn’t been on my radar—I feel too young to even think about retiring. I looked into it. Retiring at fifty-five means a fairly drastic reduction in pension entitlement. It’s little more than peanuts, really, but here’s the crucial point: it’s guaranteed peanuts.

Saying my wife was happy about me retiring might be stretching it a little, but she was agreeable, if only, I suspect, to stop me banging on about becoming a full-time writer.

And that’s what I’m going to be. Last week I handed in my notice in my regular job. I’ll be officially leaving in early November. Since I work part-time and have accrued holidays, I only have twenty-two working days remaining. Not that I’m counting…

It’s not going to be retirement in the generally accepted sense. I won’t be taking up golf or gardening. I’ll be working twice as hard at writing, and all that goes with it, as I do now. I intend working my butt off for the next five years and then taking a breath to see where I’m at.

For the first time in my life, I won’t be dancing to anyone else’s tune. There are still almost three months to go so I’m trying to keep a lid on the excitement, but I haven’t looked forward to a birthday as much since my eighteenth.

12 Replies to “Living the Dream”

  1. Yay! I’m really happy for you. It’s so important to enjoy life’s little gifts. Having a passion and finding a way to use it to earn a living is like finding the Holy Grail. I write full time and I wouldn’t give it up unless I was starving. Probably not even then. 😉

    1. Thanks, Lynn. Yes, to be able to pursue that passion full-time is, to say the least, exciting. I can barely wait.

  2. Oh I am so pleased for you! I took my pension our early too and haven’t looked back!
    Best wishes for many happy writing years!

    1. Hey, Mair. Good for you – I honestly didn’t even know it was possible to take it at 55 until someone in work mentioned it. And thank you!

  3. Congratulations, Sam. It’s great to hear that you’re efforts have been rewarded and you’ve achieved a half-of-a-lifetime goal. Even with Life throwing obstacles in your path, you’ve stayed the course. Good for you. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Nina. Although it’s going to involve a lot of discipline and hard work, I can’t wait to get started as a full-time writer. (It is going to take me a long time to get used to writing that last phrase.)

    1. Thank you, Jen. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for around thirty years so to get the chance at last is, like the title says, living the dream.

  4. Congratulations Sam on the early retirement and guaranteed peanuts and a gem of a wife, who is so supportive! Here’s to living the dream!!!

    1. Thanks, Vijaya. Yeah, she’s okay, I suppose. Just kidding – I couldn’t take the step without her support.

  5. Congratulations! I hope your next series is your most successful yet and that it keeps building.

    My father died exactly a year after retiring with full pensions (he had three pensions plus our national retirement payments, because the man was a workaholic), and so I’m disinclined to wait to have the life I really want now. You never know when the Grim Reaper is coming. (and on that cheery note… lol)

    1. Cheers, Lou. I have heard of many people dying not long after retiring. It’s almost as if their bodies can’t cope with the sudden drop in pace. I shouldn’t have that problem, fingers crossed, since I’ll be working as hard as I ever have. And, yeah, I think you’re right about not wanting to wait to have the life you want. I’m fortunate to be able to pursue it now.

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