When I was still teaching Spanish in public school but thinking about taking early retirement so that I could write full-time, I happened to be talking about that idea in the beauty salon one morning while getting my hair done. An elderly woman overheard the conversation and said, “Oh, you don’t want to do that. You’ll be bored to death.” She went on to expound on that thesis, saying that I would soon tire of not having enough to do as she had done. She found herself bored and miserable. For her retirement was nothing but a drag.
That woman’s prediction couldn’t have been more wrong. I have found that there is not enough time to do everything I want to do. Life in retirement has been exciting and fun, as I’ve realized my lifelong dream of writing and being published. I retired from teaching, not from life and not from work. Writing has become my career, though I don’t think of it as work. I love writing and learn much as I do it—much about the writing process and much about myself. Each book I write teaches me new things. Although I gain a lot of knowledge through research, I’m not primarily talking about that type of learning. I’m talking about the kind of learning that comes through doing and that teaches new skills.
There have been many times when I’ve said about some part of the writing process or something related to writing, “I don’t know how to do that.” But that statement is not the equivalent of “I can’t do that.” I have had to learn manuscript formatting. I have had to learn the manuscript submission process. I have had to learn the difference between “telling” and “showing.” I have had to learn that editors know better than a writer—at least than this writer—what works and what doesn’t, what readers will accept and what they won’t. And I’ve had to learn to accept rejection and understand that rejection does not mean defeat.
Now that I’m doing some self-publishing, I’m learning a whole new set of skills. I’m learning a different style of formatting. I’m learning how to promote. Promotion involves skills different from writing but skills, nonetheless. Promotion takes time away from writing, and dealing with that involves learning to better allocate time. The need to promote also involves learning to do things I’ve said I could never do. I have learned to do my own promotional videos. I’ve had some done professionally, and mine certainly do not compare favorably with the professional ones, but I’ve learned not to make that comparison. I do the best I can, and I manage to get the message across. I use Windows Live Movie Maker, get advice from friends and acquaintances who are familiar with the technique involved, and experiment and redo until I’m fairly well satisfied. I’ll admit that the first videos I did are pretty rough, but I’ve learned more with each one. Now I’m learning a new program that will allow me to do more and produce better results with the promotional videos and may even allow me to do book covers using digital art. It’s exciting to learn and to discover that I can do things I never expected to be able to do.
Here are the videos for the three books in the Arucadi: The Beginning. The first one was done professionally; the second and third I did.
I’m not an expert on anything. I don’t pretend to be. But I am stubborn and I am persistent. And most importantly, I’m an optimist. I believe I can do things if I try hard enough. That belief carries me through many rough spots, many discouraging setbacks. I believe in “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” It isn’t always easy. I get impatient, wanting to see results that refuse to come easily. I don’t like having to wait, to do over, to start afresh. But those things are a necessary part of learning.
Learning is what prevents life from becoming boring. And learning is a lifelong process.