This is a bit of an experiment. I’ve got mild tennis elbow and I’m trying to give my arm a rest, so I’m dictating via the voice recognition software that I’ve used over the last few years when writing books.
The difference is that there I simply use it as an alternative way of getting my handwritten first draft into electronic form, whereas here I’m speaking aloud as I think. It seems awkward. I find myself pausing lengthily as I figure what I want to say. And I can’t see it once I’ve said it, because I’m not looking at the screen but – in classic dictator pose – leaning back in my chair and staring out of the window. It feels like a different, almost alien process.
Perhaps just as well that it’s been a quiet week. I’m waiting for a number of projects to come through and I’ve used the time to revisit my website. I do it periodically and it always involves a kind of stocktaking, not only of my business life, but my personal life too. I find it increasingly hard to differentiate between them, and I’m not sure that it’s helpful to try.
This is what I’m looking at. I’m 63 and I have no pension so I’m going to have to keep working for the foreseeable future. By some standards it’s improvident not to have put money aside as I’ve been going along. But I’ve raised four children as a freelance, two of whom have done short stints in private education, and the youngest, Jake, is now a few months short of graduation. So by a different measure I haven’t done too badly, and it’s not surprising that the Jauncey coffers aren’t overflowing with savings.
Given that I’m going to have to work another dozen years or so, I’m lucky that I enjoy what I do. But I also feel pressure to make sure I use what remains of my working life as productively and fulfillingly as I possibly can. Because I do a number of different things, I’ve always found it slightly difficult to describe myself; and re-visiting the website, or as my Dark Angels colleague Stuart Delves so neatly put it, ‘re-calibrating the brand’, highlights the question: where should I focus my energy?
Most of what I do is interconnected. I write books (when I have time), which links to language and storytelling, the two areas of expertise I employ in the business world. I play music, and that links back to what I hear in the rhythm and cadences of the voices, literal and metaphorical, with which I work. I enjoy performing which also crosses the boundaries between music and books, business and teaching, but I’m not particularly good at extemporising – I need a framework, a good solid structure, behind me before I feel confident enough to go off on a riff.
I love the connecting power of language and stories and music, and nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing other people experience that power for themselves. It makes me feel quite messianic. I want people to understand that the imagination offers the route to stronger and deeper connections with absolutely everything. So I want to help enrich others’ lives.
And I want to keep enriching my own. Although I’m not religious, I’m tempted by alternative views of the world, by the possibility of those things whose existence science can neither prove nor disprove. It simply makes the world a more interesting, a more exciting place, to believe that there might, for example, be ghosts or extraterrestrials than to deny their possibility. I’ve always felt slightly sorry for the super-rationalist, the hardened sceptic.
And there, gentle readers, my ramblings for this week must end (I’ve noticed a direct correlation between how early I post on Friday and how many of you get round to reading the blog). I haven’t answered my own question but maybe, if nothing else, I’ve demonstrated that writing tends to result in a more coherent post than dictating!
I love your musings Jamie. And, on working beyond when some others might think is sensible – my father retired last year at the age of 92. When I say he retired, he closed down his architect’s practice. He still continues to research and write and lecture. I salute him!
So – thirty years to go. I salute him too. And what a lot I could do!
I don’t get this ‘retirement’ thing. Healthy people ‘retire’ from, ie leave, a company, an organisation, not from work or from life. ‘To retire’ in that way is to take to one’s bed!
And no chance of that, Faye!
The thought that one might be able, financially speaking, to retire at 60 or 65 is a reassuring one. But that’s it. Just a thought. The thought of actually retiring, or stopping, is unthinkable (contradiction). Yes it would be good to keep on ‘working’, or perhaps more accurately ‘playing’ if you are lucky enough to love the work you do, more because you want to and not because you have to. But ultimately it amounts to much the same thing. Keep going because the alternative is, well, boring! Keep going Jamie and & keep on blogging!
Thank you Steve. Both my stepfather and father had strokes within a relatively short time of retirement – two very active, successful men who must when it came to it have felt themselves sidelined, even though they probably relished the thought of taking their feet off the pedal.
Hi Jamie, yet another of your blogs where I find myself nodding eagerly in agreement throughout. And also wanted to mention, I always read them on email – as I get an email version of your blog because I’m also a WordPress user and I’ve signed up to follow your blog. I hope WordPress works in the same way as MailChimp, that it recognises when someone opens the email and adds that to the blog stats – otherwise I (and probably others) am probably missing from your stats! All the very best, Anita.
Thanks Anita. As long as you keep enjoying it, that’s the main thing!
The website thing is always a challenge. As observers of people, organisations, communication challenges and so on, I find that it feels odd to turn that analysis inwards — especially if there is an element of humility about one’s personal approach. I often think that we should form a collective whereby we all write each other’s promotional copy, thus side-stepping the worry of self-aggrandisement and at the same time, allowing others to highlight skills and qualities we may be slow to acknowledge in ourselves. For the record, I will happily enjoy your musings for a few more years yet!
That’s an incredibly good idea Mark. We need to set up a kind of writers’ web copy exchange. I write yours, you write mine …
To sit on a veranda under a tree over looking an azure sea sounds like a fine thing to do. To settle by a log fire below a granite mountain ‘aint bad either but then what? It’s good to have purpose. I always believed what you make, makes you and to stop making is to stop being.
That said, my brother is an RAC roadside mechanic and I’m not sure I can imagine the scene when aged 72 he turns up to rescue a marooned young family in his orange and silver truck perhaps by then fitted with a blue disability parking permit for the old bugger.
Keep on scribbling Jamie. I’ve got no pension either, but at least now I know I’m in good company.