Monday, December 5, 2011


Darrell James

My decision to become a writer, sixteen years ago, wasn’t exactly an off-the-wall idea, conceived of inebriation and flight of fancy. In fact, in part, it was a premeditated choice based on some long-held attitudes. Yes, I had a passion for writing, a yearning for creativity. But I was also looking for something to do, that I could imagine myself doing the rest of my life.

So, many of my friends claimed that they couldn’t wait for retirement so they could play golf four or five days a week. And while I love a good round on the links as much as anybody, I couldn’t imagine my days with nothing better to do than play.

Maybe it was the Jim Croce lyric that echoes: "...moving ahead so life won't pass me by..." that was stuck in my head. But, see, I’ve always loved to work. And, I’ve known for many years that I wouldn’t be happy with the traditional idea of retirement. (Which for me is synonymous with having no particular purpose for life.)

Now, that may sound judgemental, maybe cynical, but I’ve seen far too many of my peers drop out of the workplace only to find their days spent in the recliner, consumed with CNN and Sports Central. It just isn’t for me.

So, when I set out to become a writer, it was with the idea that writing was something I could do well into my twilight years.

Elmore Leonard quickly became my model of success. Elmore is 86 years old, to date, and he still turns out a book (or more) a year. In his time, he’s published more than forty novels and numerous short stories. His stories have been made into moves, adapted for television. And he is revered and respected, at his age, by virtually every writer and reader of contemporary crime fiction.

I just turned sixty-five and my first novel was released in September. It is part of the longterm (and longtime) plan that I have constructed for my life. To write well into my seventies, eighties, perhaps beyond. Whatever success I may achieve along the way is mostly secondary. See, for me, it’s the work that counts. It’s the sustainment of purpose. It’s the living of life in a meaningful way that’s important.

I know I’m not the only one to harbor such beliefs. ABC World News, in fact, just ran a story of senior adults working well into their nineties and beyond. The sentiments that many of the seniors had for continuing their work efforts mostly echoed my own. But there also seemed to be a plausabilty to it that suggested that their lifetime of experience contributed strongly to their life satisfaction. Quite simply, they “felt good” about the work they do.

I feel good about the work I do. And, health and other influences aside, I hope I will be able to write for many years to come. The reward comes along the way, not at the end of the journey, I believe.

It comes with living ones life with purpose.

Darrell James is the author of NAZARETH CHILD, a debut Del Shannon novel, released in September by Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing. It is available in bookstores and from online retailers, in trade paperback and all popular electronic formats. SONORA CROSSING, book two in the Del Shannon series, is scheduled for release in September next year.


Vicki Doudera said...

Darrell, this is my favorite post of yours so far. No BSP and very thought provoking. Your outlook is inspiring and I commend you for continuing to grow and reach. No recliners for you! Good job.

Lois Winston said...

Darrell, you look damn good for 65! Staying out of that recliner obviously is working quite well. May you continue to write well into your triple digits!

Robin Allen said...

Nice post, Darrell. We all want and need purpose at any age. I'm glad you found yours--and it's kind of cool that you can do it in your recliner if you want.

Unknown said...

Go Darrell! You are certainly off to a great start with Nazareth Child. One of the many wonderful things about being a writer is that even as we create books and articles and stories, we create and re-create ourselves. Glad you re-created yourself in such satisfying style.

Darrell James said...

Thanks for all the kind comments: Vicki, Lois, Robin.

Sheila, I like the idea of reinventing ourselves. It keeps life fresh and exciting.

Jessica Lourey said...

"The reward comes along the way, not at the end of the journey..."

Beautiful. I look forward to following your long and esteemed writing career. Glad I was here at the beginning.