Hardly anyone thinks this will work. Ever since I've said that I'm quitting teaching, or at least quitting my teaching job, a steady stream of people have asked what I'll do next. When I'm feeling brave, I say I want to be writing. More often than not, I hear that there's no way it will work.
I understand what they're thinking and feeling because I often think and feel the same. I've been writing on the side for forty years. Longer really. Lately I write while teaching at-risk kids in a job that's killing me. Once upon a time I wrote while doing middle school. The idea of doing writing primarily, well, that sounds crazy to me too.
It also sounds so good.
The last couple weeks I've been saddled with even more trouble on the job than usual. I haven't slept well. I'm eating and drinking poorly. Writing has been a struggle. But I'm not stuck with these things. I have all sorts of choice. That's why I'm quitting the job. It's a first step toward doing something better. And I'm noticing that even when writing is hard, when I feel like I can't say anything well, it's good work that I want to be doing. That might change, but it has been true for four decades. I should pay attention to that kind of information.
Most of my troubles spring from not doing things that inspire me. Sure, it's unlikely that I can make a living wage by writing, but I'm much less likely to want to drive my car into Onondaga Lake. And yeah, I know that I haven't figured out what it is that I want to be writing, what exact story I have to tell, but I feel alive when trying to tell it. I need to chase that.
Maybe writing will make me some money. Maybe it won't. But what the hell? There's only one life given to each of us. I might as well try living it.