I spent Thanksgiving morning straightening out rewrites on The Undressing of America. I just didn't want to leave the work until I was needed to help cook and devour family food. It's not that I don't like Thanksgiving or enjoy hours of doing nothing; it's just that I like writing even more, especially when a big, complicated project is coming together so well. I'm grateful to have a job I want to do even when I have a perfect excuse to blow it off.
I know I'll be doing this forever, too. At an age when more and more of my peers are talking about retiring, I'm looking forward to another few decades of hard work. There are practical reasons for that: freelance writers don't get a pension, and the boom-and-bust nature of the job doesn't give you much chance to build up a big retirement account. But even if I have the money to stop, I won't want to. Most of my writing heroes worked until they dropped. I like thinking about the 75-year-old Edith Wharton falling to a stroke with the uncertain end of The Buccaneers stretching before her, Joseph Campbell letting go at 83 with not even half of his colossal Historical Atlas of World Mythology finished, P. G. Wodehouse just about to revise another Blandings Castle novel when God plucked him into the sky at 93.
I'm thankful for this career path with no finish line, this competition with no laurels to rest on. I look forward to leaving my own unfinished manuscript someday. You know: the one that everyone says would have been among my best work if I'd only had time to finish it.