I worked in the field of education for over 34 years. After a stint as a preschool teacher, I taught in an elementary school for nineteen years. After I had completed my doctoral work at the University of Cincinnati, I served as a professor of teacher education at Cincinnati Christian University. I worked at the college for fourteen years and one semester. I was a teacher first and then a teacher of teachers.
Now I am a writer. It struck me this past week when I was talking with a new neighbor. He said, “So do you work?” Without reservation I simply said, “I am a writer.” I told him I write some freelance and have a contract for my first novel. He and his wife were interested. They asked me questions about my book, Breathing on Her Own, and promised to buy a copy when it comes out next year. I told them about my newest project and about the story coming out in Chicken Soup for the Soul 20thAnniversary Edition: Readers Choice this June.
What is remarkable about this transaction? Probably nothing. Maybe everything. You see, I know a lot of people who dream of writing or talk about writing. Like me, they have probably written a lot in the past. I wrote articles for teaching journals. I wrote newsletter entries for the school newspaper. I wrote stories for my students and teen novellas for my own children. I wrote poems on napkins and clever captions for my photo album. I did a lot of writing. I dreamed of being a writer. I talked about writing. But if anyone asked me about my work, I would say, without reservation, “I am a teacher.”
So what made the difference? It couldn’t be the publishing thing. I had been published in “Language Arts” as well as “The Ohio Reading Teacher.” It obviously doesn’t have anything to do with the number of stories written. I had written at least five children’s books (which I may even try to publish sometime in the future), two teen romance novellas (which I will never attempt to publish because they are so bad), numerous short stories and poems for friends and family. And I wrote more lesson plans than I could ever count.
What made the difference is this. I made a decision to be a writer. I write. Now I call myself a writer. There is something about living up to your own expectations. When I taught children, I would emphasize their strengths. They would live up to those expectations.
For example, a few years ago I ran into a young man I had taught in a kindergarten class many years ago. He recognized me and introduced himself. He was in the Air Force and studying to be a doctor. He turned to my daughters and told them how I had praised him in kindergarten for being a good citizen when he stopped in the doorway of our classroom as soon as the Star-Spangled Banner started playing over the intercom. Now he was in the Air Force.
Writing makes me a writer. Identifying myself as one makes me happy.
Now I am working on my second novel. Even with taking time to travel these past two weeks and working with my husband to install a new floor in our South Carolina vacation home, I have managed to write. Perhaps not as much as when I am at home, but that is part of the joy of my new profession. My time is my own. You see, I am a writer.