Lately, I’ve been looking for a sign that I should my job of 21 years, complete my MFA in creative writing, and have time to develop and promote my novels and my blog. To some, this may seem like a no-brainer. If I can afford to do it (which I can) I should go for it, because life is short and opportunities to follow our dreams are limited.
But my job isn’t just a “job”, nobody’s is when they’re a teacher. The school where I teach, the community it is in, the students & staff – they’re all a part of me. I would be a different person than I am today, had I not taught there. And faced with the prospect of cleaning out my classroom, packing up my books and lesson plans, and saying goodbye – well, it hurts. There’s no escaping that pain, not if I intend to leave.
Of course, I wouldn’t quit all together. I’d apply for a leave of absence, but the minimum leave is three years. I will ask for part-time, but it seems doubtful they’ll accommodate that request. I can come back and sub, but that might be more a more attractive option in theory than in reality.
Here’s the truth: there is no way to take a jump without sacrificing this emotional safety net. So much of my life, my routine, and my identity is wrapped up in being a teacher. Yet, perhaps that’s part of the reason I should go. If I stopped teaching today, I could be proud of what I’ve accomplished, what I’ve taught and what I’ve learned, and I could look back on my career with pride. I would have no major regrets.
I can’t say that about writing. For almost as long as I’ve been teaching, I have been writing novels, but I have always had to divide writing my time with work obligations, and I’m left wondering what I could achieve if I had the opportunity to focus solely on being a writer.
It looks as if I might find out. I’ve had some conversations at work and people are supportive, as are other important people in my life. Still, I’ve been wavering. Then, the other day I found my “sign” that I’m doing the “write” thing by taking this chance.
It was an article about Brooke Baldwin, from CNN. She’s leaving the network with no real prospects or new opportunity to move on to, other than recently publishing a book. She hasn’t given a reason for leaving, other than she’d gotten “too comfortable.” Reading that made it okay to tell myself it’s okay to give up comfort. I can embrace feeling scared of unstructured time and days spent not talking to anyone. I can live with not knowing what will happen – if I will publish, or find a job teaching college level writing, or if I will return to old my old teaching job.
It’s time to embrace the unknown and make the leap. It’s the “write” time!