Wednesday, December 21, 2016

December 21, 2016

The Christmas holidays in the Ashbury household have officially begun. This year, when we were expecting my husband to have more time off than in recent seasons past, he ended up having less—just two weeks instead of the three he has had the last couple of years. He finished up his work for 2016 last Friday. The first thing he did when he got home was turn off the alarm on his cell phone.

One significant difference between this year and last, aside from his time off being a week shorter, is the change he made very early this past January, when he moved his computer out of my office, and into a corner of the living room. So already, we’re beginning this two-week period with less stress between us than last time. Even more interesting is that a few months ago, he began looking forward to what it was he’d be doing to occupy his time when he retires. Next year this time, he will have been retired for about a month.

His original plan had been to find a piece of old farm equipment, and restore it. This would require a fair bit of physical activity on his part, beginning with constructing a garage to do the work in. About a year or so ago, he officially scrapped that idea. Although his COPD isn’t progressing rapidly, it is a constant for him, and it’s a disease that will never get better. He decided that while he will do his best to remain as physically active as possible, he needed a more sedentary activity to help the days pass.

I didn’t have to warn him that he couldn’t just quit work after more than 40 years and just do nothing; this was something he already knew. There have been people we’ve known or known of in our lifetimes, who did just that—spent their time becoming professional couch potatoes—and died within a year of retirement. He knew he had to have a reason to get up every day. I wasn’t the least bit surprised when he told me he’d found the perfect thing for him to do: he’s going to write novels.

He has already written one novel—a challenge he accepted, from me, back in the day when I was hoping to some day be published. He was so full of “helpful advice” on how I could improve my writing “process”, I suggested that since he was an expert, he should write his own book, which he did.

Now, he would be the first to tell you it wasn’t very good. But it had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and a plot that unfolded in a logical manner. That’s pretty basic, and if you can do that, you can in all likelihood write a passable book. Some talent is necessary, but mostly, it’s craft. He’s not undertaking this activity to make money, just to keep busy. If things in the self-publishing world don’t change within the next couple of years, that’s what he’ll do with his finished novel.

He isn’t going to write romance, which I am certain is good news to those of us who do. Instead, he’s of a mind to write dystopian stories, as those are the ones he likes to read that most fire his imagination. He has a couple of different scenarios in mind, and so far, is enjoying himself, outlining plot points. He’s already started on his first novel, because once that idea creeps into your mind, you can’t always put it off. It needs to be written out—and since my husband decided to write it out (the old-fashioned way using pen and paper), he’s already filled a couple of notebooks. I’ve promised that I’ll help him where I can. End of civilization stories aren’t really in my wheelhouse, as I’ve only ever read one series that had that kind of theme. But that doesn’t mean I can’t edit it for him, when he decides it’s ready to head to the book-sellers. While I would never claim to be able to edit my own work, I believe I have the creds necessary to fill that role for someone else.

I’m delighted he found something to focus on, something to look forward too. I’ve long ago decided that the secret to happiness is to have a goal or, if you will, a dream. It’s better to spend your time being someone going somewhere, rather than just standing still and letting the moss of passing time cover you over.

David and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy Kwanzaa! 


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