Creative retirement blogs, what are they and are they perspiration or inspiration? What keeps me going all this time (four and a half years give or take) churning them out about two a week? Having the ideas? Are they any good or simply a form of diary-keeping designed only for my own amusement and why am I writing this blog at this point? That’s a lot of questions and, like many of my blogs, few answers. I can say that the topic in this blog was ‘inspired’ by an article in the weekend papers, The Observer magazine in this particular case, and an article about Talking Heads singer David Byrne*, a musician who I had always rather admired, rather than a musician whose music I had loved. I like him enough to read the article at any rate which is more than I do for about 90% of what’s in the weekend papers. A figure that is getting bigger as I increasingly pass over articles with a – been there, read that, not interested, that’s too depressing, frustrating, outright annoying.
I digress, the point was, I read the article and remembered why I liked David. Simply put he is a current day Renaissance Man, as it says in the article. If I had lived the life of a creative artist I hope I might have been a bit like him. He does a lot of different stuff, he always has projects on the go and they tend to be all different – music, films, books, film scores, plays etc. etc. The list in the article was too long to write up now so I’ve left it to the end. So, in those moments when I ponder my own modest creative streak, I wonder how similarly creative folk manage to keep up their output and can this possibly have any relevance for the retired person?
Given I’ve been writing these blogs ostensibly about retirement, at the rate of about two a week, with a little help (like last week and my cartoons), I think it’s a fair question. Particularly as I’ve recently written how being creative is such an important aspect of my own retirement life. I liked David’s own view of the creative process enough to actually write it down, “better to keep the creative muscles moving than sitting waiting for the great stuff to arrive.” I absolutely agree with this with the small exception that in my case the great stuff doesn’t actually arrive. But then if it did no doubt I would be too busy to write this I would be spending my time wearing very large suits (if you’re not a Talking Heads fan that reference will mean absolutely nothing) and being chased by chicks, as we used to call them. It must be quite difficult if you have made your name in one area of the arts (having hit records) to move around the various media options, a problem I don’t have on account of never having been successful.
I suppose it might mean there is a temptation to chuck in this blog and apply my talents, such as they, are in / to other areas. Problem is there aren’t many that I haven’t tried and, by extension, failed at. For example, I used to ‘write’ songs but that was many years ago and even the song-writing course (an on-line course from the Berklee School of Music) I took very soon after retiring, didn’t help that area of ambition. Yes, there was the graphic design (I did some courses on Photoshop to help with this) but that didn’t take off and even the cartoons that I’m taking the opportunity of putting out courtesy of this very blog. I’ve written a crime book and a dozen ghost stories again to be found on these pages. I started a play, meant to be a modern day version of Arthur Ridley’s Ghost Train but it didn’t get finished, but several episodes (6 to be precise) of a sitcom entitled Psychos about a bunch of psychologists working for the Local Authority. Several other sitcoms All hilarious. I found one episode of Psychos last week when trying to clear out our Yorkshire cottage and no, it’s still not sold neither the cottage nor the script.
Whether there is a particular form of creative enterprise that is better suited to the retired person than any other, I’m not sure. I suppose we tend to go for craft-related activities – carving, painting, embroidery, print-making, brass-rubbing (and I don’t mean any of these to sound unvalued), something that has an element of skill to it but, for a number of reasons, that tends to rule me out. I have certain physical and mental, what shall I call them, shortcomings might be the word. That said, these, and many (many) more ideas are contained in my diaries which I fully expect to be gifted to the British Museum upon my demise or else burnt on a bonfire by my children.
So supposing you’re about to or have recently retired and you want to do something creative in your retirement and this is a new thought because your working life has been of the more sensible, rule-following, money-earning, career-ladder climbing, type. How to start with the more wild and wacky life style or at least as far as factoring in some creative activities? Nothing too wild you understand. As usual I have no neat answer to this question but I suppose what you might do is to take a piece of paper, write David Byrne’s activity list, mentioned above, see below for full list, (or somebody you identify with, David’s has a particular skew of course) down the middle then draw three lines off each area that might (just a might at this stage, don’t rationalise them out of existence too soon) interest you as a retirement activity. Doesn’t have to make money nor be all-consuming (it’s not a job), maybe just to dabble with initially and maybe no more than that. All I would say, and this is not much by way of advice, is don’t make it too sensible. Let your retirement imagination flow. I’m guessing if you don’t do it fairly soon after retiring then you will develop routines that might, quite literally, last you a life-time.
Here’s his list, hope it inspires : singer, composer, lyricist, guitarist, film director, writer, actor, video-maker, designer, photographer, various collaborative projects, scored movies, plays and TV shows, founded record label, started on-line radio station, composed operetta, exhibited art work, written books about music and cycling, published books of sketches, designed bike racks. As he says, they didn’t all work out but then back to the quote about the creative muscles.
So it seems the message for me and these blogs is to keep writing them even if based on tiny ideas, like this one, and don’t worry if they don’t all work out. Retirement is a bit of an adventure if you encourage it to be.
*He has a PowerPoint presentation entitled ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ (see photo above). Nothing to do with Ian Drury I don’t think.