When I started writing (and wanting to publish) about 25 years ago I was stuck in a job I didn’t like and saw writing as a way to get away from having an asshole for a boss, not have to punch a time clock, and yeah, get rich. I wrote because I didn’t want a day job. The jobs changed, from machinist to newspaper reporter, to corporate writer, to public relations director, and I kept writing because I need that creative outlet, but there was always that thought that part of why I did it was to get away from having a regular job. Then I became a teacher.
I look at what kids write in my yearbooks, the artwork they give me during the year, the personal messages in their journals, and the comments and captions they add to pictures of us on Facebook, and now I wonder if I’d give up my job if I achieved that long-held dream of being a rich and famous author. Money can’t buy you the title of “best teacher ever”, or even “favorite teacher”. And no amount of fame can equal the feeling of a kid telling you that you’ve taught them something that made a difference and helped them out later.
On one hand, it’s kind of sad that I didn’t figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up until I was 40 years old. But then I look at some of my colleagues who went from high school to college, back to high school to teach and are now cynical or burned out and think it may have been better that I bounced around in the real world for a while. Not so good for building a retirement fund, mind you, but I think it’s better because I know what else is out there and am now doing what I do because I love it.
Of course, it should also be noted that I’m writing this the first week of summer break!