Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nearing Career's End

It pains me that I’ve arrived at the close of my writing/editing career. The realization catches me up on a regular basis: the world belongs to the younger folks coming up behind me.

Not so long ago I was the Young Turk, the up-and-comer, building a successful career in book publishing, then starting a publishing business with colleagues, and eventually launching my own freelance service where I took minutes for a university board of trustees for 18 years, wrote manuals and training materials for a pharmaceutical company, wrote books for foundations about their founders, and prepared countless brochures and publicity pieces for lost causes. So much I have learned about so many things: campus master planning, university advancement, Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement, blood glucose monitors, the history of radio and automobile racing, auto body repair, quality control software, all kinds of oddments that come the way of a writer who’s willing to help anyone write anything.

I’ve given up the trustee minutes, which were my chance to learn how a university runs, how formal organization meetings are conducted, how what you think you heard is sometimes nothing like what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve long since given up writing about pharmaceuticals, the victim of constant turnover in the corporation, loathe to keep reintroducing my skills to the latest product manager. I’m finishing up editing and publishing a memoir written by a family friend—printing quotes and a decision on the cover design are all that’s left to do. After that, I think I’m done writing and editing for a living.

Funny thing is, I’ve loved writing and editing all my life. I like nothing better than a pile of notes and papers that have to be crafted into a coherent policy manual. I thrive on helping authors get their intent across concisely, translating techincal language into plain English. I love helping people tell their personal stories for posterity. Choose a job that you love, they say, and you never work a day in your life. I’ve been lucky to be in that position, and could probably keep on as long as I draw breath.

But other things are calling…travel with my retired husband, teaching my grandchildren to bake and to sew, enjoying the time my 96-year-old mother has left, and pursuing my more recent passion, garden design, not to mention my commitment to the not-for-profits I support with those very writing and editing skills.

In short, it may be time to retire. But.... Can I really let go of a career that’s fueled me for a lifetime, put food on the table, revealed to me what I was good at and what not, garnered me lifelong friends? 

It’ll be tough, but it may be time… 

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