Dena Zocher writes about interesting people, places, things.

Back to the Future

Science fiction author and retired petroleum geophysicist Sherrie Cronin just finished her sixth book.

A self-described “nerdy kid,” Sherrie “was always picking up rocks, loved earth sciences and wanted to be an astronaut.” The astronaut thing didn’t work out, but Sherrie discovered she had a talent and passion for writing.

Exposition: Space is curved

Sherrie initially set out to pursue a career as a science writer. She did some hard science writing, but discovered she had a talent for science fiction writing, and began writing sci-fi short stories.

One thing lead to another, and a graduate degree in geophysics led to a 33-year career in the petroleum industry. “It’s not what I thought I’d be doing,” she grins. But it was a good way to support a growing family, allowing time to keep her sci-fi writing chops sharp.

Rising action: Wakeup call

A challenging year that started with a parent’s passing, included getting laid off after 19 years with the company, and culminated in a near-death experience on a canoe trip prompted some soul searching.

“I took it all as a wakeup call, and a chance to reset my priorities” she says. The kids were still in high school and college, so Sherrie found part time work consulting. “That’s when I retired mentally and started seriously writing. For four years, all I did was work and write.”

And write, she did – five sci-fi novels in five years.

Climax: Retirement?

Once the kids were grown and out of college, “It was time to move on and write full time,” says Sherrie. She and her husband moved to a smaller home in a smaller town a few states away.

The move to a new place, with “new people, new trees, new bugs,” was a rush – and a crash. For Sherrie and her husband, downsizing, moving, and retiring was a “huge transition” in their relationship. “Remember, you’re both on your life journey together,” she laughs.

Falling action: Rediscovery

“I had developed a habit of being hassled and rushed,” says Sherrie. “I was surprised by just how much I need to feel like I’m contributing. I thought I would write full time. After the move, I went silent.”

“I thought my purpose was going to be writing. But I’ve discovered a passion for service.” Working with a local domestic violence hotline, Sherrie says, “I volunteer, and they help me. It’s a chance to get out of myself and apply my management skills.”

Resolution: The gift of freedom

“It took years to be me; now I have time for self-reflection.” Sherrie rediscovered her muse, and recently finished her sixth novel.

“Being in retirement is like being a kid again. You have the freedom to be yourself, dress the way you want, to be eccentric like a teenager. And, just like when you’re a kid, you have more time than money. Enjoy the freedom and don’t worry about what you think you may have given up by walking away from status, from being important.”