Certainly not because it’s easy. It’s a lot of hard work and some days the flow of words dries to a trickle and then there is much soul-searching and self-examination. Shouldn’t I be doing something else? There were several other post-retirement careers planned; teaching English, running a literary cafe, opening a restaurant, freelance scientific editing. All of the above were appealing second careers, but they did not happen. The imperative to tell stories was too powerful. There are stories all around us. That mousy character you don’t look at twice on the U-bahn, but she is the only person in a crowded carriage in the underground with the moral courage to speak up and to face down a bully who verbally molests a young girl travelling alone. The down-at-heel aristocrat who looks like an ageing harlot as she desperately tries to keep up appearances and be a worthy descendant of a long line of illustrious forbears, the last of the line. The world-renowned purveyor of fine wines who had to overcome cataclysmic misfortune to reach his position of eminence in the trade. The bohemian lover of the good life who flaunts his good fortune, health and wealth in front of a succession of wives only to end his days a physical wreck supported by a loyal fourth wife young enough to be his daughter. The Cold War veteran who discovers love and a family on the other side of the divide. This is the gamut of human existence. There is no need to make up stories. Hundreds of these stories lie in the streets in front of us, as rich a tapestry as only life can make it. There are stories of courage, of cowardice, of love, of forgiveness, of patience, of forbearance, of betrayal, of fortitude; all of which need to be told.
I am 65 years old, and I feel the urge to tell these stories. I am restless when I don’t write and at this stage in my life, I think it is a wonderful way to live. There is nowhere else I would rather be. So take a moment to stop and listen, to slow down the rushed pace of your life. The stories that have come, and the stories that are yet to come; these stories are all for you.