Buck started referring to himself as an old man several years ago. Sometimes, it’s humorous, as in “What do I know? I’m just an old white guy.” At first, it bothered me. I wanted to say, “You’re not old.” But I could tell he was beginning to try the thought on like a new hat. He’s been a tough child, a wild-ass teenager, a good husband to two women, a journalist and editor for several newspapers, loving dad, the public affairs person for a major corporation, doting grandfather, chairman of the board of a local bank, good son, stellar friend, fabulous storyteller, dreamer, builder, and renaissance man. He’ll turn 76 this December.
This getting old business has rubbed off on me some, too, although even after turning 62 this past June, I’m considered a sprout, a chick, and even, my Lord, a babe, at least within the environs of our home.
We’ve been retired from working for other people for 16 years. We retired early to squeeze out as much time together as possible, knowing we had gotten a late start. When we met, I was 30; Buck was 43. At first, we traveled a lot, in and out of the United States, and hiked mountains all over the country. We lived in two states and slept where the weather was most to our liking at any given moment.
Our ideas about where to live have changed, and can be summed up in two words: Writer’s Cottage. And we’re in hot pursuit of the vision in our minds. It involves selling our current digs. We’re no longer delighted by maintaining the infrastructure of a big house. It was great, but now we view it as a huge waste of precious time and energy.
I gave away all my cookbooks to a culinary program at a local college. We’ve found homes for lots of the acquired stuff that clings like lint. We’re moving at warp speed toward a lifestyle designed for three main things:
- loving each other and our family and friends,
- and keeping fit.
Buck has completed the manuscript for his first novel, The Good Samaritan. He’s working through the third draft. Then we’ll do a last polish together and seek an agent. I’m roughly 60% finished with the first draft of my own first novel, Eye of the Storm. I believe I can cut myself some slack here, since during the past 15 months I’ve entered all of Buck’s words from handwritten legal pads into Word documents (and in the process learned how to use voice to type software). His first draft was more than 400,000 words; the second was 275,000, the third is below 200,000 and we expect the final word count will come in around 150,000, which is where it needs to be. My prose tends to be more spare from the get-go, probably because I’ve written blog posts and flash non-fiction for years. My target word count is no more than 120,000 words.
We rise early, write much of the day, workout most days, watch the news with a drink, relax over dinner, and go back to our desks to write another couple of hours before lights out. I reserve time for reading, too. That’s critical.
So. We’re writers. An old guy and an old gal. We finally figured out what we want to be when we grow up. And we’re having a blast.