A Question of Retirement

I suppose the reality of spending the last year in the face of a pandemic has made all of us, and especially those of us of a certain age, well aware of our mortality, and that may account for the continuing barrage of emails asking me IF I’m going to retire or WHEN I’m going to retire or if I’ve ALREADY retired? The answer to that last one is a definitive NO!

This morning we did our thirty-minute workout with our trainer, and I just now came in from my five-mile walk out in the driveway. I’ve broken that down into five-lap stints that add up to 1200 steps each. (Counting again. Maybe is should have been an accountant! No, just kidding.” And this afternoon Bill got us signed up for our Covid vaccinations, one in early March and the second toward the end of the month.

So for a seventy-five year-old broad, I’m feeling pretty chipper at the moment, in fact, downright hale and heart. (Knock wood!). I was just looking at the Silverseas catalogue for next year and wondering if and when our cruising life will resume again. Believe me, I’m ready.

But back to the question of folks wondering about my proposed retirement date. I’ve often said that at some point someone would drag my gnarled dead fingers off my computer keyboard and, at that moment, I would be over. By the way, don’t look for books “co-written” by me and someone else. I’ve always been notoriously bad at working on committees. That’s one of the reasons I flunked out of PTA at a very early age.

And don’t look for me to have a drawer full of unpublished manuscripts waiting to hit the market the moment my headstone comes up. (By the way, don’t go looking for a headstone. I’ve already requested that my ashes be scattered somewhere in the Pacific Ocean because, at that point, it won’t matter a whit that I never learned how to swim!)

All of my books but one have been written under contract, meaning they were written with a pub date and often a cover in place long before I ever completed the actual writing. And, except for this year when Covid delayed not one but two pub dates, I’ve never before had two completed manuscripts sitting in New York waiting to hit the shelves.

As for the exception to that rule? It’s a manuscript called By Reason of Insanity, currently hiding out among my papers in the archives at the University of Arizona Special Collections. It was the first thriller I wrote back in the very early eighties. Why was it never published? Because it wasn’t and still isn’t good enough to be published. For one thing, it was 1400 pages long. For another, since I wasn’t allowed in the Creative Writing program at the U of A in 1964, writing that behemoth of a book was my on-the-job training for becoming a writer. In the process of stringing together that many words—more than in three complete mysteries—I taught myself how to do pacing, plotting, expository writing, and dialogue. These were all essential ingredients to my becoming a writer, but the only way to learn how to do them was … well … to do them! That’s the only way one becomes a writer—by writing. There are NO easy buttons.

But back to the question of my eventual if currently-unscheduled retirement. This week a friend of ours sent along an article about swan songs—about artists still being creative in their later years. The sender was Sedona landscape artist, M.L. Coleman. A number of his glorious oil paintings adorn the rooms in our home, and his vivid oil paintings serve as daily reminders of places we’ve visited and loved over the years. Readers may remember that Michael and his wife Sheri made cameo appearances in Judgement Call.

But back to the article itself. Michael is a contemporary of Bill’s and mine, someone who hikes the mountainous wilderness behind their home on a daily basis. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s sometimes asked the same question I am—as in when are you going to be over? In that regard, I found the article interesting and immensely encouraging. Here’s the link in case any of you are interested in reading it for yourselves: https://painterskeys.com/swan-song-phenomenon/

My favorite take away from the piece was Lauren Bacall’s statement at the end: “Always I’m feeling, ‘You’re never going to work again. That’s going to happen one day, but I hope I’m not alive.’”

That would be my hope, too.

38 thoughts on “A Question of Retirement

  1. I believe that William F. Buckley died at his desk. That is a good way to end a writer’s life. Maybe that will happen to you. 🙂

  2. At almost 65, and on the brink of retirement from a job of 25+ years that has not been my favorite, I look forward to all the possibilities that this new freedom brings for me to finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up! Your blog and the article were particularly poignant for me!

  3. I’m selfish enough to hope that you live lots longer and write every year of that time. You are my favorite writer and I look forward to each and every one of your books.

  4. If you enjoy what you do and you are capable of doing it, why even consider retirement? Just make sure you take time to enjoy life, smell the flowers, while you write your books. Know that we all enjoy them and have a vested interest in you not retiring. Smile!

  5. If I was you I’d rethink the Covid vaccine. No liability to the manufacturer. it changes your DNA, and has fetal tissue in it besides causing severe side effects.
    Total world control.com has a long article about covid. It is very interesting reading, please check it out.

    • Forbes had an article last week saying the vaccines do NOT change your DNA. The vaccines also do not contain fetal cells. Just ask Google as these statements have s been unidentified as being untrue.

      You do you, but let others do the same.

  6. Judith, keep on writing so I can keep on reading… Personally I am tired of everything to do with Covid… Oh to have MY and YOUR life return to what was our previous normal.. We my dear, are not over the kill, we are living our lives as we want to, but with social baracades..

  7. Thanks for the chatty text. I never want your books to end so 1400 pages sounds good to me!! Even if you do retire someday I hope you will be 105 and still sound of mind and writing. Since I currently live in the East Valley of Phoenix (Apache Junction) I have also lived kn the West Valley, so I LOVE recognizing places in your books and places I have been. I think Joanna Brady is one of my favorites, but i do enjoy Ali Reynolds and J.P. Beaumont. Actually I LOVE ALL YOUR BOOKS. Thanks for being such a great writer and look foward to all your books I haven’t read. I do save them and reread about every 5 years.

  8. Thank you for saying there will never be a Jance “and” book. Writers that do that disappoint me. And you never disappoint!

  9. I don’t think you could retire – there is just too much storytelling inside of you that MUST get out! You are amazing, and inspire me to become more unchained from my computer, go outside and get more steps in! Then return to the living room to sit in my chair and read another book.

  10. Dear Ms. Jance , I believe if I looked up the word “Optimist” in dictionary, I will find your pit next to it. LOL. God bless

  11. I enjoy your blogs and your books and so happy you don’t plan to retire.
    Also, good work with the exercise, I’m 77 and try to walk every day but don’t
    know how far it is, but at least I’m moving about plus doing daily housework
    and some gardening too.

  12. I would be the last person on earth to recommend retirement time for anyone. I retired several years ago and found myself busier than ever, doing things I wanted to do. It seems to me that writing is where you are doing what you want. I enjoy your books and your thoughts on these posts. I have to say I also admire your bravery and courage that I saw in full-flower at a Tony Hillerman Conference. You were and are a great role model and writer. Thank you.

  13. Dear, wise Lady, please, please, please don’t ever retire; at least not until I am dead (which I expect to be in 32 years or more). So, you plan to live a looooooong time. You have given such pleasure to many, including my (now dead) husband and me. When I don’t have the money to buy another J.A. Jance book, I reread one from my Jance library. Thank you for being you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  14. Thank you, J.A. for another interesting blog. I’m glad to hear you’ve no plans of retiring. Also good to hear that you’re not interested in writing a book with an additional author. I usually skip right over those even if one of the authors is a favorite of mine. I’ve started a couple of books that are co-authored and don’t get very far into them when I realize they just don’t work for me. I’m also not a good committee member. I guess I’m too opinionated and now that I’m in my “twilight years” I have little patience for organized “sports” so to speak. Have a great weekend!

  15. Please don’t even think of retirement! We need your stories to get thru this terrible time . When you stop you die , so keep walking working and researching. When you stop using your mind you get stale. Narrow minded.
    We finally have rain in Az , took forever to get here even last summer we had less rain then in years
    Have a super week no cruses for us as the nightmare trips of people last spring locked in stateroom because of COVID is unbearable to me .. be safe keep walking .. Jan

  16. Good for you for having followed your passion-and are still indulging in it! I keep telling my young adult grandchildren who are trying to figure out what to do to support themselves: Follow your passion, it will never feel like work! Even though I followed my passion all of my adult working life, I am still loving retirement-doing what I want each day (which included reading all your books). However, I am still dabbling in my passion, and teaching part time at the college level in my beloved field. I hope you keep following what you love!

  17. Walking 5 miles every day is awesome. Great job by keeping up your writing. Loved all of your books and usually read them in order. My favorite library to check them out is in Sun City West. The readers in that community usually complete reading a book in days, so if you are down on the checkout list, it doesn’t take long to acquire a copy.
    I also enjoyed every day I “worked”. The first 3 years in the middle school was interesting, and helped me appreciate the next 39 in a high school, but I needed to move on when the before and after class meetings became a waste of time.

  18. Judy, if you ever retire then I will have to retire, too. After all, I’m older than you are. Seriously, I hope you never retire. You are an encouraging example for everyone, no matter what the age.

  19. Great to hear. I’m waiting for Jenny Brady to finish college so there’s a few more books between now and then. And as for retirement, why quit when you’re having fun?

  20. As long as you enjoy what you are doing, why retire? Besides, look how many of your readers would miss you every day. Please, keep writing so we can all keep reading. Love ya,

    • To me reading is lot like music, different people have different liking and disliking. I mostly like mysteries. Grew up on Agatha Christy to Perry Mason, so I have this habit to visualise in my mind a book I am reading (lot like movies). Ms. Jance, your writing is so appealing that I get totally “submerged” in all books, especially since I have been to some of locals described in your book. Please keep writing, can’t get enough

  21. Love you and your blogs. This one was particularly heartfelt. I just got home from 5 days in the hospital, which went from ‘heart failure’ to ‘go home and enjoy life’. At 93 I am particularly grateful that those caretakers took their jobs seriously, worked together and never decided I “had had a good life”! I am good and you are part of that. While I was in the hospital, I finished “A List” on my kindle and am ready for the next one!

  22. When your blog arrived Friday morning, I wanted to reply right away, but that day and the next were too non-stop, and now I’m glad, because I’ve just read all these comments, and can say, “I agree! I agree! I agree!” I retired from social work at 55, but since then (15 years) have been doing something I absolutely love–teaching music lessons. I hope to follow your example and keep at it till they have to pry my dead fingers off the guitar.

  23. I recently heard a quote attributed to Frank Sinatra. “There is a lot to be said for longevity”. Amen. PS: I reach 82 in April.

  24. While I am 10 years your Junior I share your attitude toward whatever is called retirement. As a dedicated fan I can attest that your work continues to be engaging, entertaining and well worth the effort that you put into it. You make many of us very happy through your writing.

  25. But…..but….my sister gave me one from one of the stores. You would not want to read the book that came out of using that button? Heck, a coherent sentence from me would be pushing it.
    I have noticed that a lot of the Brit author books are 2 and 3 times more pages than what I see from best selling US authors. Don’t know if that is good or bad or I just have a mental thing about taking too long to read? Upwards of 700-1000 pages may push me over the back edge of an undecided purchase.

  26. We have a timeshare at Kohl’s Ranch near Payson . Many years ago we were stuck in the ranch house because of the weather and I was look for something to read and I found one of your Brady books and thoroughly enjoyed it. Went on the internet and and did some research and became familiar with your various series. I have all of you books on my Kindle. I enjoy reading them for a second or third time.

    We also moved to Arizona for my Fathers health. Leaving New York City in a driving snowstorm in December of 1948. The American Airlines flight was a five stop trip. My Mother said that if the windows would have opened she would have tought us how to fly! When we departed the plane my father started to laugh at the “REFUGEES” bundled up in winter snow clothes. He met us wearing shorts and a short sleave shirt.

  27. And mine as well, dear lady!
    There are several brilliant organists who have died on the bench and I, if not brilliant, wouldn’t mind that way to go.
    So looking forward to your next offering. Carry on!

  28. I feel a twinge of envy for people who don’t want to retire. By the time I was able to do that 9 years ago, I could not wait. But I’ve had a wonderful time so far in retirement doing lots of crafty projects, getting together with friends, and finally getting around to finding characters like J P Beaumont whom I’ve come to adore. So, not to sound greedy, I hope there’s another J P story in your writing future.

  29. Ms Jance, enjoy all your books, especially the ones located in Cochise County. My wife and I owned property on High Lonesome estates, between Tombstone and Elfrida so it is almost like reading about home. Keep up the good work.

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