I'm leaving a secure state job in a week. I have a permanent employee number, with a month of sick leave and vacation. It's the kind of job people retire with a pension from.
I'm leaving it to be a writer.
In this economy? With my husband an artist too? (Yes, yes, I'll still do therapy, dear clients who follow–stalk–my blog. My main reason isn't that.)
Is there a diagnosis for this? There should be, because it's a passion so consuming it feels like doing anything else is a betrayal. It's an obsession so great and terrible that the stories flock and gather like wintering geese, dragging me where they want to go.
As a creative kid growing up, I was always writing, and drawing, and telling stories–but I needed seasoning. You know what seasoning is–that black coating on an iron pan that provides a patina that produces delicious meals. An unseasoned pan sticks and burns.
When I was 18 I was talented. I thought I knew a few things. I said them, with fillips, flourishes, and conviction, overfond of big words like “somnambulism” and “transcendence.” On my way to college that first ill-fated go-round, “I'm a writer,” I said when asked what I was majoring in.
A man, approximately my age now, guffawed and patted my shoulder.
“Get a real job,” he said. “You'd have better luck making a living panning for gold than being a writer.”
I was smacked down. Clobbered like a baby seal, unfamiliar with the clobberings that are a regular part of being a writer. And a sliver of doubt entered my heart…and I was never the same, instead carefully constructing a secure life as best I could, doing what I loved (helping people) and writing on the side, in the dark, in spare time, filling stacks of journals and notebooks.
Through all that I got seasoned by the hot stove of life–and learned that discipline and perseverance beat talent any day of the week. Finally, at 47, I believe in myself enough to take a chance.
Where will you find me next week? Waist deep in the river of life, panning for gold and loving every gosh-darned minute of it.
Here's a nugget I have to share with you–the cover for my next book in the Lei Crime Series, Torch Ginger. It'll be ready as an ebook in the next few weeks–sign up on sidebar for email to have first crack at it!