Mid July, I traveled to Seattle to the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference, as a finalist in their annual writing competition. I spent four days in the Hilton, attending workshops, meeting people, and pitching my novel to agents and editors. The last evening of the conference, Joe flew up to join me at the awards banquet. After dinner, a couple of my favorite agents invited us to a private party in one of the rooms. Fun!
“Ring the bell that you can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in”
– Anthem by Leonard Cohen
I worked on writing my story every day for three years, from 2010 to 2013. Then, last Fall, I took a full time teaching job with a “virtual academy”. This year has been agony. I feel like I gave birth and then left my infant in a trash can in some back alley to go make money whoring myself. I was a slave in my own kitchen this year, chained to the laptop at the kitchen table, where I was required to spend many hours a day (sometimes from 7 am to 2 am) filling out redundant excel and google doc spreadsheets documenting my student contacts. Little of my time was actually spent in contact with students. This is the corporate version of “charter school” education, now being funded by public educational monies. All the while I worked at those spreadsheets, I felt like my soul was bleeding out of my body. Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” I am sick inside my skin. Itching under my flesh to hold my book in my hands, to feel others read it, and love it. I need to see my novel alive, breathing and walking on its own, out in the world.
My teaching contract ended June 13th, and I did not seek to renew it. I feel both relief and anxiety. I think without the money I earned (less than a beginning teacher’s salary), I’d be floundering financially at this point. So, without it, going forward? Will I be able to live with less, live more simply, learning to thrive in the evolving non-growth economy, the transitional economy – with more time to freely explore my creativity, my passions, my life, but less money to finance my existence, and the bringing forth of my novel?
“Nothing is harder than being a true novelist unless that is all one wants to be. In which case, although being a true novelist is hard, everything else is harder.” John Gartner