Russell Warnburg: I begin my eighth decade on this mortal plain with great gratitude for a long and satisfying life. My writing career did not begin until I was 66, in my final year of teaching. I began teaching in Lewiston, then taught in Minneapolis, followed by 21 years in Gray, and ended in Windham. Having come through two bouts of cancer, a third if you count a small skin lesion, I knew it was time to begin that novel I had planned to write since my college days. My first novel was Edge of Redemption that was released in 2012, followed by Chalk Line Killer and Gateway Murders. These three are part of the Detective Cole Sullivan series, all set primarily in Maine, as is my fifth novel that will come out next year.
After getting my first novel published, I decided a goal was necessary, so I added to my bucket list that I would write ten novels, at least one a year. In How To Become An Author, Arnold Bennett advises that: “But it must never be forgotten, that while the reputation is being formed, the…public needs continuous diplomatic treatment. It must not be permitted to ignore his existence. At least once a year and oftener if possible, a good solid well made book should be flung into the libraries.” I am attempting to follow that solid advice.
I have now reached 71, and wait for my fourth novel, 2064 A Warning, that will be released October 1st. It is a dystopian novel and also a love story between two young lovers, Robert and Celia, who struggle to survive in a very difficult and tragic future. There may be a sequel but who knows? Right now I am interested in continuing the Sullivan series.
While I am in the quoting mood, I thought it worthwhile to pass on something of interest by P.G. Wodehouse. In a letter to his friend Bill in 1945:
“You say you tend to get tired nowadays. Me, too. After all, we’re both heading for seventy. Silver threads among the gold, laddie. Extract from a book I was reading the other day: ‘Latterly his mind had been going to seed rather. He was getting toward seventy, you see.’ Have you ever noticed, by the way, what peculiar ideas writers have as to what constitutes old age? ‘He was a man not far from fifty, but still erect and able to cross the room under his own steam,’ they write. Or ‘Old though the Squire was, his forty-six years sat lightly upon him.’ At sixty eight I have reached the stage when, picking up a novel and finding that new character the author has introduce is sixty, I say to myself, ‘Ah, the young love interest.’ ”
My thoughts exactly. Isn’t this ability to tell a story something? And somehow my mind is not going to seed, nor am I feeling tired. I have become a story teller and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I must admit, however, that there are infrequent times when I wonder if all this hard work is worth it, but then something, anything will trigger an idea and that creative urge bubbles back to the surface. That urge is not always satisfied by writing however. Sometimes I paint, design and build a piece of furniture, or get an idea for an interesting photograph. A few years back I displayed some of my furniture and photos at Gallery 302 in Bridgeton and sold a few of each.
I have always wondered why I must create. I have a hunch that some of you reading this, have wondered the same thing.