When I was a kid I thought that at some magical old age like 50 I'd be able to rest on my well-earned laurels and coast for the rest of my days. Fifty seemed like it was on the crest of retirement with some gray hair and maybe a little more around the middle.
But that was in exchange for having taking the necessary risks and moved my feet as I climbed some ladder during my 20's, 30's and 40's. Thirty years ought to be enough to establish a base and then glide. Thirty years of doing anything ought to get someone to the top where we get to rest for awhile.
Okay, so now I'm 50 and there's still a lot left to be done. It's a rude awakening that's turning into an enormous blessing. The blessing has come from my inability to grow stagnant and constantly having my assumptions challenged. I don't get to assume I'm right about anything for very long and it makes me more likely to listen to everything.
Some of the challenges have been brought on by technology that has completely changed the landscape of my profession. Journalism has been busy morphing into something new for awhile now and no one is able to even venture a guess as to what it will look like next. Even being an author continues to change and in order to stay current, I have to keep learning.
Before the 90's and the birth of the Internet both of those professions operated pretty much the way that they had for close to 200 years or more. Not just the way the news or a book was delivered but even the way they were marketed to the public. Writers were viewed as predictable and comfortable looking and definitely not cutting edge.
Now, the details of the profession changes every quarter and it's as if we are in a constant test kitchen trying out something new to see if it'll hit for us. The downside is that there's no coasting even for the successful. There's no longer some long stretch where I can do the same thing over and over again for awhile and sell a lot more books. I'd get left behind.
Constantly doing something new can be exhausting especially when I'm being taught by someone who is younger than my son and they're doing it much, much better.
Right now the new wave is video and the very affordable Flip Camera has made it possible for everyone to film everything at any time. New authors are getting on the internet, which is now old school, and delivering a short pitch about their book on YouTube as a video, which is the new school.
It seems like everyone is trying to sell something all of the time on Facebook or Twitter and it's always in my face. It can make me feel like not saying a word.
Then there's the overwhelming factor. I took care of my father for the last years of his life and whenever there was a computer glitch or a confusing letter he turned to me to clear it up for him.
It was a little ridiculous that I was considered the brains of the operation but I always gave it my best shot. Lately, I've been looking for my replacement especially after I was asked to do some videos for a new web site, www.MarthasBigAdventure.com. It was something I resisted for as long as I could.
I'm very ordinary and not at all slick. No touch-ups of any kind and in fact after that bout with cancer my lip has taken on a Sylvester Stallone quality. I kept thinking that the producers of the site were going to take one look at my video and politely pack up for different pastures.
However, I was wrong. No one seemed to notice I'm a middle aged author. In fact, visitors to the site were drawn to the message, just like the column. You see, the real message here was once again that we're always up for the job as long as we're willing to do our part. That's even true for the 50 year old youngsters amongst us. More adventures to follow.
Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., ne.