In June 2006, I resigned from teaching high school. At the time, I was ready. I'd taught for 15 years, and while I'd loved it, I was ready to embark on my next career: Novelist. Ever since, I'm often asked if I miss teaching. Honestly? I don't. But I always feel a little guilty about that. And it's more complicated than a simple yes/no answer.
Here are some things I miss--the energy of teenagers, watching them "get it", the funny anecdotes I was sure to come home with, getting to talk about books and poetry I love.
Here are some things I don't miss--standardized tests, helicopter parents, checking up on kids' whereabouts, grading essays, some administrators, the hours.
Before I quit, I already knew all of the above. But there was one thing I was really worried about leaving behind, and that was the camaraderie with the other teachers. Dishing with my buddies in the hall during passing time. Knowing that there was someone next door or down the hall whose room I could burst into and who would get it, whether I was exhilarated or frustrated. Talking about a lesson that worked or didn't. Laughing about another lame excuse from a kid.
I worried that writing full-time would leave me lonely. I'm a social person. I was afraid that not only would I have no one to chat with, but that I wouldn't have anybody to talk to who "got" my job. Who understood the joys and irritations and fears of it (and, believe me, writing is full of all of those. Publishing is a wacky business).
But, I've discovered a writing community beyond my wildest dreams. I've always got somebody to jabber with if I want. And much of it is because of this really cool blogosphere I hadn't even known existed.
I've got links to my buddies over on the left--and what started out as just commenting on other folks' blogs has segued into e-mail correspondences and "blind-date" phone calls. I've met writers at conferences and festivals. We cheer each other's successes; we talk each other down from ledges. We share scoop. We know the lingo; we get the details. We read each other's WIPs and we offer insight.
And sometimes I know I need to pull myself away from the computer and get some writing done, just as when I was teaching I sometimes had to hide out so I could get papers graded.
Just this week, a whole community of girlfriends has been "touring" my book on their blogs as part of The Girlfriend Cyber Circuit (links on left). I've only met one of these women in person--but we all are there to support one another's efforts.
So, to Therese and Kristen and Lisa and Larramie and the great gals at The Writers' Group and Carleen and The Good Girls and Melanie and The Debs and everyone else, thanks for your support and friendship . . . and to those of you who are lurking or wondering if this community is for you, kick your shoes off, pull up a chair, and join the fun. The village is richer because of each of us.