“When I’m Sixty-Four”

7 Aug

More naps these days

Someone asked me the other day what they should do if they run out of synonyms.  They were referring to the color blue, and they had already called it indigo, aqua, and cobalt.

It’s a pretty common problem for writers.  You certainly don’t want to keep using the same word over and over again, thus appearing as though you have a limited vocabulary, but you also don’t want to take a long walk down Synonym Lane because, well, it seems a bit contrived if you know what I mean.

I suggested to that person, and I suggest to you, that you use similes and/or metaphors to reach the same goal.  Instead of saying a person’s eyes were blue you could say her eyes reminded you of robins’ eggs in a nest on a brilliant morning, or you were lost in the tide-pool depths of her eyes.

Just a suggestion . . .


I spend the last hour of my evenings reading, usually a novel by one of my favorite authors, but this past week I’ve been reading my second novel, “Resurrecting Tobias.”  I guess I wanted to see how I have evolved as a writer, but I also wanted to revisit my own personal favorite and try to recapture things in that book I was proud of.

It’s an interesting exercise and I highly recommend it.  If you don’t write novels then go over some of your old articles.  Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also can be beneficial.

Oddly, parts of that book made me question whether I had grown at all as a writer. Some passages were better writings than I’m doing right now.  I’m not sure what to think of that.  LOL  There were some passages which seem poorly written now, and I can see what I should have done instead, but we all know that hindsight is a luxury none of us can act on in the present.

So we move forward!


I was thinking back to when we were kids, and the things we did, without parental supervision, which would today be considered almost frightening.  My parents usually sent me out the door to play with two words of advice: be careful!  Of course I paid zero attention to those words.  We had snowball fights with rocks in the snowballs, just to spice it up a bit.  We played dodge ball with the hardest balls possible because, well, it was really cool to nail a kid in the head with a high, hard throw.  We loved to jump off roofs, and we climbed trees like we were spider monkeys, never giving a moment’s thought that we might fall down and break a bone.

“Be careful”….no chance, Mom and Dad, but thanks for caring!!!

And then we got older, and with age came an oppressive wariness, and our risk-taking adventures dwindled to nothingness, and honestly I find that a bit sad.

I haven’t climbed a tree in a very long time.

I miss doing so.

I was reminded of my age the other day.  I was in the hay barn looking for eggs, and a sleeve from a hay bale broke loose while I was standing on it, and I fell down on my side.  Didn’t hurt anything, no permanent injuries, but the realization hit me that friends my age have broken hips and ankles and shoulders by doing exactly that, something seemingly innocent which turns out to be six months in rehab.

It was a sobering moment, a moment of considerable introspection, coming face to face with the inevitable.

I laughed when I first heard The Beatles sing “When I’m Sixty-Four.”  I’m not laughing now.

Anyway, the next day, I went back into the hay barn and climbed to the top of the hay stack because, well, it was necessary for my own peace of mind that I do so.


I guess the point is that a day will come when I can no longer produce the way I am today.  I will sit down at the computer on that fateful day and the words simply will not be there.  My fingers will not be able to dance across the keys, and my mind will not be able to dance across the spectrum of our language.

So today I must squeeze every last drop of enjoyment from writing that I can.

And so must you!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

29 Responses to ““When I’m Sixty-Four””

  1. Janine Huldie August 7, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Aw, Bill, I am don’t want to think of that day. But like you when it comes here, so be it I suppose. That said, Happy Tuesday and hoping that this week has a been a great one for you so far 🙂

    • Billybuc August 7, 2018 at 1:53 pm #

      It’s a long ways off for you, Janine, and yet much closer than you can realize at this moment. Take care my friend, and thank you!

  2. Larrykitzmann August 7, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Amen my friend. While not the writer I can attest to the getting old. I passed 64 some 8 years ago. In this last year I’ve managed to screw up my back. Some 5 weeks for that to heal then most recently I sprained my ankle almost fully recovered from that. Both occurred while playing with my 5 year old granddaughter. One was playing tag the other skipping rope. Yes we slow down a bit or loose that youthful edge we once took for granted. Yet I’m reminded of this truth. We don’t quit running because we have gotten old. We have gotten old because we quit running. Here is to a long run yet my friend.

    • Billybuc August 7, 2018 at 2:54 pm #

      Larry, thanks for weighing in. I love the last quote,and I suspect that’s why I remain so active and busy. If I can stave off senility for one more week by staying active now, I’ll take that trade. Besides, I love what I’m doing, so why not keep doing it?

      Peace my friend! Have a great day doing that thing you do.

  3. Sarah Potter Writes August 7, 2018 at 3:21 pm #

    It’s a hard balancing act between using the most straightforward way of describing something and sounding boring, or going overboard to find an alternative way of saying it and coming over as pretentious, wordy, or even plain ridiculous. Whatever word or words are chosen, they shouldn’t ‘shout’ out of the page that the author is trying too hard (cause that’s a form of author intrusion).

    By coincidence, today, while reading through my latest work, I saw that I had mentioned that someone had startling blue eyes. But I had other things to say about her eyes as well, such as her Asperger’s inability to meet my protangonist’s eyes, and him being fascinated by her colouring in general, with her dark eyelashes, and bronze skin, and hair that’s the same colour as his Golden Retriever! So there we have it, blue eyes it is, and I’m happy with that, cause that’s how my protagonist thought of them and I was writing from his viewpoint. … (yes, I’m going on again!).

    As for risk-taking when I was young — I climbed trees, rode too fast on my roller skates etc, etc, etc, and was often covered in cuts and bruises. Now, I’m terrified to go out in icy weather without wearing my snowboots, or climb anything higher than can be reached by a stepladder, even drive my car more than 50 mph. It happens to us all, sadly, so you are definitely not alone, my dear friend 🙂

    • Billybuc August 7, 2018 at 5:07 pm #

      Sarah my friend, thank you for your thoughts. It may happen to all of us, but that does not mean I’m happy about it. 🙂 Seriously, how in the world did I fall? I’ve climbed mountains before and now a hay stack is a formidable obstacle. lol

      Have a superb week my dear friend.

  4. Mike August 7, 2018 at 4:10 pm #

    I learned something today. If I was your neighbor I would be willing to say, “be careful” now that I know you would be willing to ignore it. It also occurred to me having parents that said, “be careful” and were ignore is the same as having parents that offered no such advice.

    All authors have a best work, “Resurrecting Tobias” in my opinion is your best work. The good news is that that work leads us to your many other creations.

    • Billybuc August 7, 2018 at 5:08 pm #

      Mike, I’ll be laughing about your statement all day….why bother with the advice, right? As for your kind words about Tobias, thank you so much!

  5. 1authorcygnetbrown August 7, 2018 at 8:42 pm #

    Did you know that Paul McCartney wrote “When I am Sixty-four” when he was just seventeen years old?

    I too was looking over some of my old writings the other day and I too saw that I had written some great stuff back then. I have also read some of the stuff that I write now and it is good as well. Different, but good.

    Paul is also still out there still writing songs and singing. He’s older than both of us!

    • Billybuc August 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm #

      McCartney is ridiculous in that way,Donna, ridiculous in a good way. Tremendous energy for sure.

  6. Lawrence Hebb August 7, 2018 at 11:16 pm #

    They say you’re only as old as you feel!
    I regularly meet people who’s body has been on this earth ninety plus years, but to watch them you wouldn’t know it, then there are those who’ve been here thirty years and less mobile than the 90 year old!
    I know which one I want to be, Keep climbing the Haystack bro.

    • Billybuc August 9, 2018 at 1:57 pm #

      Lawrence, I know I’m in ridiculously good health for my age, which is very nice, but there is no denying the decline. All I can do is all I can do, my friend. Thank you!

  7. Manatita August 8, 2018 at 5:54 am #

    Sobering reflections. What can we do? I was planning to get a telegram from the King, but does not look like i’ll make it past 77, let alone hundred.
    Yes. The memory and the courage begins to go. The bit for climbing, that is. Miss it to. Not so long ago I tried to climb a mango tree in the Gambia and struggled. I was scared!
    Mortality has become visible and holds our hands. Ha ha. Sobering thoughts. But yes , keep on trucking.

    • Billybuc August 9, 2018 at 1:56 pm #

      Mortality has become visible…that is a beautiful statement, Manatita,albeit a sobering one. Let’s make hay while we can, my friend.

  8. phoenix2327 August 8, 2018 at 11:49 am #

    Similies instead of synonyms? What an excellent suggestion! I believe this is worthy of a hub. Or at least a mention in the mailbag.

    Yes, it is a little sad when you realise you’re not the person you were. But doesn’t this give us an opportunity to explore other avenues in our endeavour to be better than we were?

    Climbing the hay bale again? I get it. You need to get right back on the horse again so you don’t become afraid of it.

    Have a great day, Bill.

    • Billybuc August 9, 2018 at 1:53 pm #

      Thank you Zulma! Yes indeed, other opportunities to explore other avenues, and that is growth, and hopefully that is one of our goals as a writer. Thank you for mentioning that.

      Hot still, here…..yesterday was hell at the market….I’m taking it slow today, for sure.

      • phoenix2327 August 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm #

        Our heatwave broke yesterday. Maybe your break will be arriving shortly. Fingers crossed.

      • Billybuc August 9, 2018 at 3:31 pm #

        many fingers crossed!

  9. Emese-Réka August 8, 2018 at 1:52 pm #

    Well, I have a few years until I am sixty-four, and I’m hoping to get wiser, not necessarily slower – I’m slow enough already. Glad you didn’t get hurt on that fall. “Be careful” ;), more so than when you were twenty-four. I know none of us listened or even stopped to think what it meant when our parents said those words. I still repeat them every time my kids go out. Their answer is “don’t worry”. Just like I know they won’t listen, they know I can’t help but worry. It’s sort of a game, really. It is the only way for me to let them go, without becoming a helicopter parent, denying them their freedom. Have a great rest of the week, Bill.

    • Billybuc August 9, 2018 at 1:51 pm #

      God bless the helicopter pilots, but I’m sure glad I didn’t have one growing up, Emese! I had way too much fun to be restricted by a hovering parent.

  10. Andrea Stephenson August 8, 2018 at 4:50 pm #

    All interesting points Bill, I always look for synonyms to make sure I’m not repeating myself, but we can be too literal! I love re-reading old things I’ve written and being surprised that it’s actually better than I thought! (Not so happy about those that aren’t as good, of course!) I’m about a third of the way into Shadows Kill and very much enjoying it 🙂

    • Billybuc August 9, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

      Thank you so much, Andrea, for giving “Shadows Kill” a try. I am very appreciative. As for synonyms, that is one of my cardinal rules…do not repeat myself.

  11. Sageleaf August 13, 2018 at 1:53 am #

    Okay, before I do the *meaningful* comment, I have to say the snowball piece reminded me of the snowball scene in Elf…you know what I’m talking about? The bullies get on the main-character-middle-school-kid and Elf sees what happens and then the best snowball pummeling ever happens…hehe.

    As for reading old works, I gotta say, even when I proofread and re-read things, when I go back months or years later (I actually do that a lot), I often cringe and wonder how I let myself get away with it. lol.

    In any case it’s great to be back, I’ve missed all my incredible blogging friends. Sending you the biggest hugs!

  12. Billybuc August 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm #

    I do remember that scene fro Elf…classic! I could have played in it.

    It’s good to have you back, Lil Sis! Have a great week of peace and understanding.

    • Sageleaf August 13, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

      Hehe…omigosh, Big Bro. Here’s the Elf video clip (just of the snowball fight hehehe). I know, I know. Not totally conducive to peace, but hella FUNNY! 😀

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      Thanks for the suggestion!

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