I wasn't supposed to be a teacher. I knew from a young age that I had been gifted with the ability to write (a gift I do not take lightly), and I also knew that I was a damn fine horse trainer, patient as the day is long and able to get along better with most horses than I did with people. So my career goal in high school centered around those two endeavors. I thought if I could find the right partner in life, I could settle in to a routine which included working horses in the morning hours and writing in the afternoons. For a tiny space of time, I reached that goal—but then was thrust clean out of the end zone by life's capriciousness (if you'll forgive a football metaphor in a writer/horsewoman post).
When I found myself single at thirty with four kids and no child support from their daddy (the guy who said, "Let's have six!"), I knew I needed to do something quick, so I went back to school to get my teaching credential as teaching would afford me the most amount of time—winter break, spring break, summer break—with my children. When I took off my stay-at-home mom/writer hat and donned the mortarboard of academia, I'd already published one book (at the age of twenty-three) and was smack dab in the middle of writing a second. (That second book, which I abandoned during my divorce, would have been a good one... but was never finished.)
In all fairness, I can't say I haven't been writing in the past thirty years. I have. I've had three more books published, and I've seen my work in national periodicals such as The Writer and the Christian Science Monitor, in addition to the Los Angeles Times. (Yay me!) But one of those books was written in the short span of a ten-week summer break. Another, the YA novel, was written in just thirty days during NaNoWriMo. So the writing has been on the back burner while teaching has been my day job.
Yesterday, I carefully removed all the remaining bobby pins from my mortarboard and wrapped it up in metaphorical plastic to be stored forever as a memento of the job I came to love so much it stopped being a "job" years ago.
And today I woke at 4:00 (old habits die hard), crawled out of bed (carefully, as Purrl will sink her claws into my leg to keep me in bed like a sleepy teen slamming the snooze button), pulled on a comfortable old pair of cargo pants and a t-shirt, and set my writer's hat jovially, insouciantly, enthusiastically and passionately upon my head. Hallelujah! It still fits!