Today marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
After today, for the first time in 13 years, I’ll no longer work in elementary education. After today, I’ll be a full-time writer.
This change didn’t come from an idea that all the stars will align if I focus on my art. It wasn’t a Zen decision that occurred during a moment of transcendence.
It did come from a moment, however.
It happened a couple of weeks ago. I’d finished my hours at work and picked up the kids from school, and as usual, I was working on writing stuff. This has been my normal for at least the last year, but the writing busy-ness has increased in recent months. Blog posts. Critiques. Editing projects. Prepping a book for publication. And of course, actual writing.
“Mommy, can we read together?”
Those are all important tasks as I build a writing career and online presence. Worth the time. In fact, it had already become a full-time job.
I continue typing away. “Sure, honey. In a minute. I’m trying to finish something.”
I also worked my part-time education job. Combined, I worked ten- to twelve-hour days, every day.
He holds up the book he’s chosen. “I want to read this to you.”
“I said in a minute, okay? Can I please finish this?”
He trudges away.
It certainly wasn’t my finest moment, but it made me realize something: I can’t be a good teacher, good writer, and a good wife and mom at the same time. Something’s gotta give.
And for too long, that something was my family. I haven’t been as involved with my own kids’ schooling as I want to be. The house is turning into a Febreze commercial. And more often than not, dinners are thrown together at the last minute from whatever falls out of the freezer.
But most importantly, I’ve been missing time with my kids while they are young. I know I’ll blink and they’ll be men. I can’t get this time back.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to make a different choice. My published book has done well. Well enough for me to make writing my only career.
So I talked to my boss. I told her I knew the chances of finding someone to replace me this time of year were slim and I would stay for however long it took to do so. Turns out, a teacher with a Master’s degree talked to her two days earlier, looking for a job like mine.
Funny how things work out.
So here we are exactly one week later. I’m taking off the teacher hat and putting on the writer one. Yes, it’s scary to think the only way I’m supporting my family financially is through creating fictional worlds and hoping people think they are interesting enough to buy. But one thing I’ve learned over time is the majority of our choices don’t have to be permanent. For now, I get to be a writer.
Writing is my passion. It doesn’t feel like work when I’m doing it. And after all the years of talking to students about working hard so they can someday do something they love, I find myself in the position to do exactly that. I sure won’t take it for granted.