My “Medellin Jubilado (Retiree) Odyssey” contained a trap. I toured,, was a wonderful tourist. I bought property, I was a fine new member of the community and a new member of a large Colombian family through marriage, But eventually the mania of social media, screen time, caught me in its addictive grip. Cocaine? No, never. But Facebook, yes! Oh YES!
The deadly nightshade-like blooming of social media… from FB to Instagram, to Twitter, to TIK TOK and more. I entrapped myself in Facebook… a form of connection whereby you had complete autonomy posting and ghosting and looking at the pretty pictures… and the world was in my laptop. And my laptop was set up comfortably by my mountain-view ventana, it and I sampling the tropical mountain breezes, toking rum or aguardiente in sips. floral scents graciously imbedded in the total ambience.
And I was on the thing, the computer, 6, 8, 14 hours day and night. I started two FB groups and masterfully cared for them with the attention a loving father gives to his young daughters. No post from others was left to languish for more than a few moments without a brilliant point from me, without a withering riposte or conciliatory thumbs up. It was a high-powered juggling act. And if I was not receiving, I was sending. Brilliant ideas, articles on a range of subjects from debunking UFOs to revealing Eugene O’Neill’s infirmities. I never missed a happy birthday or a notice about lives and their stages from my FB and real friends.
And then came Politics. I got vehement. I got brash. I was on a mission. And that got me into FB JAIL. Dreaded. Cut off. No FB, no PM. No nothing.
It didn’t happen suddenly. For my first offence I got 24 hours. A month later I got 72 hours Then a week, then, finally… I was kicked off and into jail for a month for Violating FB Standards. They sent me a long list without ever telling me which ones I violated. But the results of a month off were astounding.
If you were forced to stop wasting time, or, like me, reminded of how much time went for nothing in my retirement, what would you do? I starting writing fiction.
They ask, “Do YOU have that book inside you?” I did. And like most new novelists, it was an autobiography., But this dealt with high romance and very special experiences in France over twenty years as resident and tourist. So, the first draft was a travelogue. It included several of the articles I had submitted to the Retirement and Good Living website and a few others. The form, mindset, of a novelist and a travel writer are different, but they can use the same material. Where have you gone? Physically. Emotionally. With Heart.
I left out one step though. My limited successes with travel writing were one thing. But how about success in writing fiction, real fiction? The first few days of my time in FB jail I set about writing a 4,000 word short story. It was hard, but also served as baby steps.
It was a story of my real confrontation with Native American traditions and beliefs.
What happened to friends after that were unexplainable except by the Kiowa. I called it “CUTTHROAT GAP”. You can find that gulch on a map. The story is of a time bend that our hero, now no longer me, experiences on a Kiowa battlefield in Oklahoma. Short, to the point, and frankly scary. I sent it with all sorts of excuses about it to my High School chum, novelist Hilarie Simon Gottlieb. Her first email back to me was, “Larry, you got it”. Approbation AND mentorship are important.
If you want to try writing I will help you, and there are many “Beta read” book clubs around for authors at all levels. Join GOODREADS. It’s free and full of very helpful people who will read your work in all stages and give you support and mentorship. And you will read their works and you will find help in reciprocity.
So, I goosed up CUTTHROAT GAP, fine-tuned it, got rid of the cliches and the passive voice, got rid of my adverbs and more than half of my adjectives, made my nouns interesting, and submitted it to several literary journals. It got picked up by “The Adelaide Review””, NYC and Lisbon, and now I was an internationally published author of fine fiction!
So, I did it again with another short story, this time turning a travel piece into a romantic short story, THE QUEST FOR THE TRUE FONDUE IN EVIAN-LES-BAINS. You will find these stories in my collection, THE BOYNTON BEACH CARTEL and OTHER SHORT STORIES.
Boynton Beach is where some dear friends from my childhood in Brooklyn retired. So… if they, 75-year-olds, were trafficking contraband from somewhere, what do you think it would be? And from where?
I made and continue to make a few bucks on my short stories, but now it was onto the novel.
By this time, I was no longer in FB Jail of course. But I was wasting one tenth of the time that I used to waste on social media, and now on my laptop I am writing fiction. Where does your time in retirement get wasted?
Find out where your time goes. Get put in FB Jail if FB is where your time goes. Assess if it is wasted time. Start something. Writing? Fine Arts? Manual arts…. Baby steps. Get Approbation and Mentoring. Enjoy your retirement. The word in Spanish for retiree is Jubilado! Remember that.
Please check out information about Lawrence Rose’s books in the bio section of this post.