Thursday, 4 September 2014

Old writers don't retire... by Cally Phillips

Old writers don’t retire…
Cally Phillips

...They just work on a new chapter.

After three years blogging at Authors Electric, I’m finally moving on.

Why?

The simple answers is : Too many hats. Only one head. Over the past five years I’ve been in a transition mode, during which time a lot of experimentation is probably ‘the norm.’  I’ve done lots of things, not so much dipped my toe in the water but fully immersed myself in a whole range of new (and time-consuming)  things.

As any good writer knows, too many plotlines will simply confuse the reader.  There comes a time when you have to ‘kill your darlings.’  And that time has come for me.  The venerated critic Samuel Johnson might have said ‘the person who is tired of Facebook is tired of life’ but for me, social media has become the one thing that HAS to change in my life.  I don’t like Facebook . I can’t tweet to save myself, just don’t have the will or motivation. Read Brand Loyalty to find out why. Indeed  the whole social media marketing feeding frenzy just reeks far too much of a facsimile of all the things I’ve spent 30 years trying to escape in the ‘real’ world.  And had escaped in the real world, quite happily!

I’m lucky. I’ve got to where I wanted to be in life.  I have a house in the country (with a woodburning stove and a polytunnel), a newly retired husband with whom I want to spend time, and two lovely dogs who are a daily source of entertainment.  I have any number of places inside and out to sit and read.  The only thing stopping me fully engaging with it, are the many hats I’ve been wearing while waiting for the ‘denouement’ to work its way out.  Health could be better but that provides a daily reminder of the importance of  time and the not wasting of it.

I finally realised it was time  to write my own happy ending. So how exactly do you stop the world (real or virtual) and get off?  It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times over the last six months.

I’ve been writing it out since April.  I gave myself a date of September 1st to make the change.  In the rural world 1st September is the start of  a new year.  You’ll be reading this on September 4th . By now the change is effected. I’ve thrown away the hats. Killed the darlings. Let go.  For me there will be No more Authors Electric..  No more ebook festival. No more farting around on Facebook.  The less I have to do with social media, the happier I get.  That’s a personal thing of course.  I’m not advocating the same for anyone else. We are all unique and each have to find our own ways. After all…

Old  writers don’t retire…

They set up literary societies. At least that’s what I’ve done . 

As a writer ‘retired’, a literary society seems like a good thing to spend one’s time on.  But it happened almost by chance. In April this year, to support the re-publication of ‘The Galloway Collection’ and in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the death of ‘Scotland’s forgotten bestseller’ S.R.Crockett,  I set up The Galloway Raiders, which is now a bona fide literary society – affiliated with the Alliance of Literary Societies and with a growing membership, currently standing at just below 100.

The inaugural meeting of The Galloway Raiders was held on April 16th at the S.R.Crockett memorial and kicked off a week of ‘events’ in Galloway.  Since then I’ve made  new friends,(real and virtual) and found quite a few people who are lifelong ‘fans’ of Crockett as well as others who are just ‘getting into’ his work.  The hub of the society is the website where there is a host of information about Crockett, his work and his context.  My magnus opus if you will. Membership is free and there is a dedicated Members area offering more in depth information and special deals on printed and digital work. It’s a community of interest in the best sense of the world. And it’s already ‘paying me back’ for the time I’ve spent on it.  

Life goes on after and outside AE, you see.  No end is really an end. It’s just a change.  September is a big month for me.  The 24th is Crockett’s birthday. He would be 155 years old.  There will be events across Galloway to celebrate this, including a cycle ride to ‘Rathan’ island to read some Crockett adventure/romance as the sun sets, and a home-baking competition (with readings) at a café/bookshop in Wigtown.  I can’t attend either of these events but I know others will have fun.

And at the end of September I’m involved in the Wigtown Book Festival. I’ll be talking with journalist/critic Stuart Kelly about Crockett’s place among the ‘Lowland classics’ as well as delivering the keynote McNeillie Lecture. Despite being pitted against The Ryder Cup and more immediately Kate Adie in the next room at the same time, it will offer a great opportunity to put Crockett even more firmly on the literary  ‘map.’  The more people know about him, the more his appeal spreads.  As I pointed out in April, ‘you can’t like what you don’t know exists.’ This was the rationale that got me started on republishing Crockett’s work.  The ebooks and paperbacks now exist and for me that’s enough.  I feel confident that there’s enough information for people to make their own informed choice and for me this is more valuable than constantly stressing over ‘visibility’ and ‘discoverability.’   Especially when that means ‘farting around on Facebook’ or ‘blogging one’s socks off.’   

And on 1st October I’m getting my head down into hibernation for the winter. A lot of writing to be done. And even more reading.  At this point, The Galloway Raiders is more than enough to keep me busy in my ‘retired’ life.  Keeping the website updated and fresh is more than enough of a toehold in the ‘virtual world’ for me. I’m about ‘sharing’ not about ‘selling’ and The Galloway Raiders is a fledgling community which I’m proud to be part of.  The support and friendship of Authors Electric has been invaluable in my journey, indeed helped lead me to this place, but here our stories diverge. 

You know what they say… old writers don’t retire… they just turn over another (virtual) page. Begin another (real) chapter.  The narrative continues. Content is indeed King.  

15 comments:

Kathleen Jones said...

Really sorry to see you go Cally, but understand that kind of exhaustion. Sometimes it seems that the important things get lost.
Hope the writing goes well and - Good luck with Crockett!!

julia jones said...

It sounds wonderful Cally. I agree that one can inadvertantly spend too much time fiddling about on Facebook but I have come to value the contact it gives me eith friends I don't see anymore (because they live abroad, for instance) and also new friends who I've never met but from whom I've found kindness, interest and understanding. I also actually LIKE the challenge of writing my monthly AE blog - probably because I only rarely write a blog anywhere else. The AE space give me a chance to hammer out whatever is currently on my mind. It's probably why I can rarely get them con in advance so tend to sit up to stupid o'clock finishing in time. Not so good for the sort of lifestyle you are choosing and I know you're right to do so for all the reasons you've given. Be happy - I'm sure you will. (And productive too)

JO said...

Cally, we will miss you. But you clearly have some wonderful pastures new. Enjoy!

AliB said...

Hello Cally - I've enjoyed your posts and I'm sorry our paths have barely crossed, but it's great to hear you have pastures new to enjoy, and a hero to champion. I can relate to all of that - sounds like a wonderful plan. All the very best. Ali B

Dennis Hamley said...

Cally, everything you do will be done well: that's a truth I've discovered over and over again during the last four years. I'm really sorry about the Ebook festival. Could anyone else be cajoled into running it? But what you're now doing is obviously right for you. So farewell and thanks for everything But we'll keep in touch. Crockett for ever!

Nick Green said...

Sorry to see you go, Cally. But I agree with you on social media - it can be like a vampire sucking away at your creativity. (One writer, I forget who, said she could hear it dripping out of her: blog, blog, blog...)

Chris Longmuir said...

Sorry you're leaving us, Cally. I've enjoyed your time here. But, as you say, it's a new chapter, so good luck with this chapter of your life and, above all, enjoy it.

Lee said...

It sounds like the right decision. All the best.

Katherine Roberts said...

I know exactly what you mean about social media... I think the trick is to use it but not let it use YOU, something I find quite hard to remember myself a lot of the time.

Enjoy your 'retirement', Cally!

Mari Biella said...

I'm sorry to see you go, Cally, but I know what you mean about social media: it does tend to suck away both time and enjoyment! I hope you enjoy your new, more simple life, and wish you all the best!

Jan Needle said...

we know where you live....

madwippitt said...

Really sorry to see you go ... we'll miss you, your fab blogs (just used the one on avoiding US tax - printed it off and had it sitting by my elbow as I slogged through the forms) and of course the Ebook Festival ... but there is also a big bit of me which is really envious of you! Have fun and if at any time you want to come back, the door will be open!

Lydia Bennet said...

Good luck with it all Cally, you will be missed.

CallyPhillips said...

Thanks folks! The author formerly known as Cally Phillips has left the virtual building. But friends remain friends and I value the friends I've made here.

Ann Evans said...

Good luck with everything you choose to do, Cally.