In June I retired from my full-time public school job. It's the first time in 36 years that I have not held a full-time job. All that freedom spread out before me. It was mind boggling. All the writing I could do! I could really get into my middle grade and YA books again!
So what did I immediately do? Signed a contract to teach a heavy-duty graduate class at a local university. Signed another to provide a year of in-service consulting for a school district. Signed another to be a consultant on a university project for teacher training. Began negotiating a six book series of professional books for teachers. Entered discussions with another district to lead an extensive curriculum program review.
In other words, I just re-built one big full-time job, only with smaller pieces.
I'm thinking the kind of freedom that was in front of me was a little scary. Especially when you're not used to it.
I have plenty of fiction writing projects I want to finish and others I want to start. In fact, if you were to ask me, what would be on the top of your list of things to do now that you are retired and have all that freedom, it would be writing fiction. So, why didn't I say no to all those other offers and just get down to full-time writing?
Part of it is probably financial. It has always been hard for me to say no to offers of money for work I like and know I can do.
I realized too though, that part of it is, I might finish books and start those new ones, and nobody out there might much be interested in my fiction. I could spend all of that precious time and nothing would come of it.
There is always that risk, isn't there? Before when that would happen it was somehow mitigated by my success at work and in other writing I was doing. Plus with these jobs people were asking me to do, I knew there would be a payoff both financially and in terms of a satisfying end product that is shared.
Writing fiction full-time, putting all my eggs in that basket, is a risk and I guess I am somewhat risk-averse as they say in the investment field. So, after I signed up for all these new endeavors, I went on vacation and had time to think about the immediate future I had hammered together. I sort of realized what I had done and had regrets, but it was what it was. There would still be some time to write, right? (Sigh)
Then when I got back I got an e-mail from the educational publisher for the six book series. There were some problems on their end and the series wasn't going to happen. The next day my graduate school coordinator called and we had a conversation where she let me know she was short on teaching hours and kind of needed the graduate course back that she had given me. Suddenly both opportunities were gone.
I did not blurt it out loud, but in both cases my immediate gut reaction was, "Great!" I was getting some of my freedom back. I then let the program review opportunity go. I cut the in-service work back to ten days for the year and the consulting project to only a day and a half each week. I am feeling free again.
Sometimes you have to make the wrong choice before you know what the right choice is. And I'm thankful to have the freedom to do that.