Nevertheless, this sudden increase in fortune has done dangerous things to my motivation. Why struggle to carve out time for writing when I am getting paid every month for doing nothing? (and since I am paid to do nothing, I really ought to do it...). For the last two years I have been trying to write a family memoir mainly focused on my late brother, but apart from the emotional pain of digging up the past, I find it hard to convince myself that anyone would be interested, let alone pay to read it. And to complicate matters, in the last few months several unplanned things have happened: my son dropped out of university, my church decided to close, and we got new tenants in my late mother's house which necessitated clearing out everything, and in the process finding things that were emotionally hard to take, though they might later feed into the memoir.
As a result, lately I have hardly written anything except my monthly column, one set of Bible notes, the occasional poem and this blog. I seem, as I said recently on Facebook, to have retired by accident. But do writers retire? Surely writing is one of those things you can carry on doing into your dotage, and I hope I'm a good way from that yet. Artists don't have a sell-by date, so long as inspiration keeps flowing. Picasso, Pablo Casals, PD James, all went on creating or performing into their eighties or nineties, which gives me at least 30 years more unless I walk under a bus tomorrow.
For some of you, indeed, your retirement might be the moment when your writing really takes off, as you become free to dedicate more time to it (unless like me you indulged in late parenthood and still have offspring living with you...). Can we, perhaps, produce our best work when our bodies may be failing but our minds are full of experience and reflection? I would be interested to hear from the more mature among you, what your experiences are of being what I shall from now on call a 'pen-sioner'.
Veronica Zundel is a freelance writer whose latest book is Everything I know about God, I've learned from being a parent (BRF 2013). She also writes a column for Woman Alive magazine, and Bible notes for New Daylight. Veronica used to belong to the only non-conservative, English speaking Mennonite church in the UK, and is currently churchless. She also blogs at reversedstandard.com