Clear Focus

Where in your life can you invest in yourself and in your dreams?  Another great question from Andrea at Superhero Journal

I tried for a lot of years to find a job that made me happy – sales person, baker, home repair specialist, and finally teacher.  By far, I invested the majority of my time and money into teaching.  Getting certified in Colorado, re-certified in Oregon, countless job applications and rejections, many, many rinky-dink almost teaching jobs, and finally, a couple of honest-to-goodness, teaching jobs.  Halleluia!  I am a TEACHER.  Then three things happened that convinced me otherwise.

One.  I was at a bookstore with a friend, giving the low-down on some novels that I had read.  She said, “You know, you’re so good at looking at the nitty-gritty in books.  You should write one.”  “What?  What would I write about?  I’m a teacher.”  End of conversation, but only the beginning of me thinking about it.

Two. I met a writer at a party.  I told him that I taught a writing class, and he asked me what I wrote.  “Um, nothing.  I’m a teacher.”  “Well, I think you should write.”  “But we’ve only just met.”  “It doesn’t matter.  I can tell.”  Story ideas started to bubble to the surface at this point, and I cautiously wrote them down, wondering, “What am I doing?”

Three.  While there were many aspects of teaching I liked, there were more that I didn’t.  I didn’t enjoy feeling like I had to use a certain book or assignment to fit in with others.  I didn’t like grading for hours on end.  I didn’t like driving to school every day.  And finally, I didn’t like that I would spend much time and effort workshopping with students on drafts to have nothing happen.  So, after reading what what felt like the millionth final paper on which the student not only ignored all of my helpful advice on reorganization, but failed to even correct spelling errors, I broke down.  I wondered how many more papers like this I could grade before I killed someone, or went crazy, or started to believe that it is proper to write anyways or there house is blue, or I ran threw the field.

So, I quit.  Just when I was really building a student following at the college, was well liked by the staff and my colleagues, and actually making money.  Because, dear readers, I have never made much money.  Nope, not me.  But I knew it was silly to value it over my happiness. 

I am delighted to say that I invested in myself and my dreams and came out on top.  I followed my gut instead of what my head was telling me I ought to do or think or believe and, drum roll, I have never been happier.  Gregory will attest to that (he’s also the source of the gorgeous rose in the photo).  I’m no longer sullen about my commute, or moaning about reading garbage, or the fact that I’ve got a jerk in my class.  I enjoy my days, enjoy spending time in my head, and pecking away at the keyboard whenever the muse strikes.  It is really quite wonderful.  

Now, I have a novel and one rejection under my belt.  I’ve started my second book, and have the ideas for two more brewing in my busy little brain.   It doesn’t get much better.


I do believe, however, that the money is on its way.  I know in my heart that my book is good and special and worthy of publication.  Why?  Because I looked at the nitty-gritty of it the whole way through.  I also loved it, coddled it, and even hollered at it when it wasn’t on track.  As I’ve said before, we Sohns aren’t afraid to raise our voices.