WRITING A NEW CHAPTER of a long story, even when you have a solid outline, is always a challenge. To keep your audience engaged, the chapter needs to contain all the elements of the larger work: an inciting incident; conflict; drama; perhaps some humor; and, most of all, the events in the chapter must move your story along.
Whether you are writing fiction or creative nonfiction, your protagonist begins the chapter with specific hopes and dreams. Most of these, she has carried with her from the beginning of the story, but there has to be something specific she is going after or wants to accomplish during the chapter. There must be something that motivates her to take action.
How does the challenge of writing that new chapter change when it’s part of the larger work of real life?
I am beginning such a new chapter in life. My inciting incident is retirement from corporate employment, which officially began at 2:30 PM on February 25th, when I logged off my company-owned laptop for the last time.
For me, this retirement isn’t defined in the traditional sense, which is, “leaving your job and ceasing to work.” I see a distinction between leaving the employment of someone else and having the freedom to work for oneself, between doing work that feels conscripted and work that comes naturally from your heart.
Retiring from corporate life means I’ll have freedom to take on additional editing clients, write another book, and expand my library of online writing classes — activities that may be considered work but, for me, come under the categories of passion and play.
Yes, I will also travel and ride my bicycle more, as well as travel by bicycle. I’ll have more time to visit my children and grandchildren, play the piano, give more love to the garden, and — who knows? — maybe even pick up knitting again. And it will enable me to contribute more to my local community by volunteering and being active in local events.
For me, retiring from corporate life means finally getting to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. No more getting up at 5:00 AM unless for something that clearly motivates me and feels rewarding. I feel as though I’ve been let out of school to an endless summer, with the promise of picnics and pool parties and sultry summer nights. Endless play. (And by play, I don’t mean sitting around and relaxing all day, though if I wanted to do that I could.)
As with any protagonist in our writing, Life will present obstacles on my journey. Right now, I have no idea what those obstacles might be, but I do know that Life offers setbacks and disappointments aplenty. However, this protagonist is determined, and believes that eventually she will triumph over her challenges in one way or another.
For the near future, I am writing a new book on journaling (more to come on that in a later post), planning to add to my online writing courses, and looking into ways to form online writing circles to help bring like-minded writers of all kinds together.
I also have openings for two editing or coaching clients. So, if you have a book you wanted edited or would like help developing, read about coaching or editing on my Services page, and then complete the questionnaire at the bottom of the page to get started with a free 30-minute consultation.
As I write this new chapter in my life, I know that I might not achieve what I set out to, but I do know I’ll experience personal and professional growth while enjoying an incredible journey along the way.
And I’m glad you’re here, sharing this journey with me as I write this next chapter of my life.