By Ramona Richards
One of my favorite authors will turn 82 at the end of May 2015. He’s suffered a lot of illnesses lately, including a stroke. Yet he’s still writing and selling his work, marketing it on social media and YouTube. In October, another favorite will turn 77, and she still writes three books a year, doing so by sitting at her desk six days a week. Her last novel hit the New York Times bestseller list.
I’ve not reached their age or stature in the literary world, but I well know that when (if!) I do, I’ll still be typing/scribbling/dream of new plots and characters. I’ve already been doing this most of my life, and getting paid in some form or fashion for editing or writing for almost forty years. I’ve been blessed by being in the right places at the right times, but I’ve also had a drive to write that I now recognize as a call from God.
It’s a passion, one that runs so deep that I’ve already investigated devices that can help me should my eyesight dim or I become unable to type. This passion drives the choices I make in other areas of my life, from where I live to which movies I see or concerts I attend. I don’t have a lot of retirement funds set aside, so as I contemplate the later years in my life, I have faith that the call God entrusted to me will still allow me to earn enough to support myself.
And stay busy. I’ve long known that one secret to a longer, healthier life is to stay busy. Not to “finish” a career, then sit down, turn on the television and veg out. My mother quilted, did puzzles and read hefty novels until she was 87. Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 77, and famously said, “Painting’s not important. The important thing is keeping busy.” With the number of plots and characters jumbling through my head every day, I can’t imagine running out of anything to write about.
Most of the writers I know are the same way. We need to write. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if we began writing at 7 or 77. When that passion strikes, it invests us with a drive to share our words, our hearts, our stories. Even our friends and family start recognizing this. Writing may be a solitary effort, but our world gets quickly drawn into what we do. I get so out of sorts when I don’t write, my non-writing friends start whispering, “Have you written anything lately?”
Never mistake: THIS IS A GIFT. Yes, it is also a talent and a skill, one we work hard at. But the ability to use words to touch minds and hearts is precious and rare. Embrace it, and the life it leads to, no matter how long you’ve been on the planet.
Ramona Richards is the Senior Acquisitions Editor for Christian Living and Fiction at Abingdon Press. A writer and editor since 1981, Ramona has worked on staff or as a freelancer with more than 20 magazine and book publishers. She’s the author of two devotional books, seven novels, and numerous articles.