John Updike Never Planned to Retire

He found writing too enjoyable to even consider giving it up

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Writer John Updike died on Tuesday of lung cancer at age 76. But the Pulitzer Prize winning author never planned to retire. He found writing too enjoyable to even consider giving it up. Updike’s most recent book, The Widows of Eastwick, was published in October 2008. It is a sequel to his 1984 novel, The Witches of Eastwick, which was also made into a 1987 film.

Updike told the Kansas City Star earlier this month: 

“I don’t know what I’d do with my mornings if I didn’t write in them. There are pleasures to writing — you kind of get out a lot of your bad secretions. You can purge yourself of them through writing. And there’s still some market for what I have to say. On the other hand, I notice some signs of mental deterioration. My memory isn’t as good; I can’t think of words. I might forget what one character’s eyes are. Maybe each novel might be the last — but no, I’m not quite ready yet. There’s still the illusion that I’m still learning this curious trade, for which there’s very little coherent instruction. I never once believed in writing schools; this is very much an amateurish endeavor, so that the chance of growing in it is still there for a 76-year-old.”