I have been a writer for as long as I remember. I learned the alphabet and I started writing. Why? Back when I was a kid, it was "be quiet, you're too young to listen or have an opinion..." Kids were to be seen, not heard. It was the same at school or at home. Sit down, be quiet. So I wrote and wrote and wrote. Because at least the paper wanted to hear my thoughts, my dreams, and my opinions.
I didn't know I would become a teacher in my adult life until the end of my second year in college. I had taken a personality test to help me figure out which career was best suited for me. The number one answer: Writer. There were other options as well, but none of the options required a college education. I needed something to finish my degree for. Teacher, in the number ten spot, was the only career that matched my personality and required a college degree; So that's what I chose.
People may ask me now that I say I'm retired from teaching, "Why did you go back to writing instead of teaching?" It's an interesting question and I don't mind answering it. Teaching is about caring so much about money and other people that you don't mind all the rules, all the pain, all the work, all the heartache, and all the times that nobody notices how much you care. Writing doesn't pay as much as teaching, unless your novel is a best seller and you get a movie deal. However, writing offers something teaching doesn't offer: Freedom of Speech. Writing is an artistic pursuit. I can say whatever my true feelings are, just like when I was a kid. Some publishers set up rules for what will and won't be published, but those rules are nothing compared to what teachers have to deal with. So even though the pay is less, the liberty is more, and sometimes intrinsic values are more important to the individual than monetary rewards. That's how I've lived most of my life.
I don't want to go back to the public schools anymore. I know what they would do and say. They would say "You have a felony from Florida," or "You only have a Bachelor's degree and most of our teachers have more than that." I don't need that kind of rejection or that kind of ingratitude. The money and the benefits are good, but at my age, and with my wisdom, I already know what the path would be - and that path is not compatible with me anymore.
Besides I've learned from going to jail and dealing with a diverse population that teaching doesn't have to happen in a formal classroom, just like eating doesn't have to happen in the formal dining room. I can enjoy a Whopper with Cheese from Burger King sitting on a bus bench just as much as I can enjoy a filet mignon at Outback Steakhouse. Teaching and learning happen all the time, with or without books, with or without classrooms. If someone reads my stories or articles online and they get something beneficial to them out of it, then I've done just as well as a teacher in the classroom. Plus I didn't have to worry about the chaos of students who are not disciplined. I don't have to worry about these kids hurting those kids, or parents yelling at me because they're kid is failing, or kids threatening me because I decide to send them to the Principal's office. Oh, my God, the nightmare of it all. I can't even imagine that environment anymore. It was terrible as a student who was bullied, and it was terrible as a teacher who thought peace and love was the answer. I was never right for that environment.
I might be able to explore other jobs. I can still do sales or office work. I do have eye problems and I am diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. It's going to be a bit more difficult to place me in something where my Bipolar symptoms don't become a bother to the job. I have an account with Avon as a Sale Representative and that allows me to sell through the website and catalog when I'm up to the task. I'm also a recipient of Social Security Disability so it's not like I have no money at all. If my writing here at Vocal takes off and adds more to the pocket, that's a bonus, and I won't complain. I'm just doing what I love to do anyway.
I am a writer. I will write. Here, there, wherever I am, wherever I roam. That's who I am.
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