Thursday or Friday, if you’ve been following me, are usually my Pub Fiction Nights. On these nights I set myself up in a pub and inconspicuously suck in and record the atmosphere. I know. Poor me. Lest you become too jealous, let me give you a bit of background.
I suck (and not just atmosphere).
Ok, that’s a little harsh. I don’t always suck. What I mean is, even though I am a writer at heart, since my earliest memories I have both known and simultaneously rejected the dream. Being a writer, right. From my perspective, I might just as well have wanted to be an astronaut or a movie star.
And I needed to earn a living. I always tended to let inconsequential things like paying the rent or buying groceries come in between me and my dream of being a full-time writer. Fine. Didn’t have a trust fund. Not many people do.
But here’s the thing. I am not getting any younger. And even during all of those years of working at not being a full-time writer, guess what? I wrote. I wrote two novels in fact while working full-time, and that doesn’t suck at all—but even so, I never felt like a real writer. I sent each of those novels out a few times, particularly the second one, but mostly I just kept them in a drawer and went on with my “real” life.
And then, and then… after a year coming to grips with my own mortality through cancer and two incredible decades of teaching eighth graders, I reached an age, that certain age, where I had a bit of money invested in retirement, and was able to say, “Time to go.” The plan was, I’d meet up with my husband across the country where he’d started a new job. I would live the literary life. Get those books published. Write more books. Really be a Full Time Writer!
Only I haven’t been writing full-time…more like some-time, between the avoiding-writing-times.
Tuesday is my Yoga night. During Corpse Pose it came to me. Yes, during that time when your mind is supposed to be completely relaxed and clear of all thoughts. That’s when I had my Ah Ha! Moment. My realization is this: My problem is not that I can’t write regularly and with complete commitment because I need to pay for my new partial dentures or that I have to be employed in order to feel valuable. Nor is it because the kitchen and bathroom floors are torn up indefinitely while my husband struggles to correct major and unexpected structural issues that we can’t afford to pay a contractor to fix. All of these things are distractions, true, but they aren’t such big obstacles to writing, not really.
Here’s my problem: I need someone to report to, to produce for; otherwise, I will dilly-dally around with this new novel for years. That’s what I mean by “I suck.” For the first time in my life I have the time to write, yet I spend more time looking for a new job than I do writing—all kinds of ridiculous jobs—anything to distract me for a day or two or ten until I either get an outright rejection or I just never hear back so my excitement fizzles. Ho-hum, guess I’ll write a sentence or two on the novel then since I didn’t get that mad scientist job…
I am a teacher, and I love lessons! Bingo! I applied for a job recently that required I complete an assigned task. I was thrilled the entire time I was working on that assignment, couldn’t wait to get it turned in. I didn’t get the job, but I learned a valuable lesson about myself. I work best when I work for someone other than me.
When I taught language arts the biggest thrill was in the relationships, and sharing of knowledge. I wasn’t writing lessons in a vacuum, they were written in the classroom, constantly changing, adjusting to the needs and moods of the students and the days—the lessons needed to breathe to be compelling. So it is with my writing.
So I’m going back to the classroom, in a way, investing in my own education once again. There are many courses I want to take through the University of Wisconsin, Madison Continuing Studies Writing Program, but I’ll choose one for now. I hope to begin soon. It will force me to focus. This is not to say that I won’t become gainfully employed one of these days; if the right offer comes along, I’ll take it! But whether I work outside the home again or not, one thing is for certain, I will be writing, full-time.