Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How can you be a writer when you're a school principal?

How can anyone be a writer when working full-time at any other occupation? Sadly, that is the reality for most authors. Very few make enough money to quit their day jobs.

When I get that question, it sometimes comes with bit of a sting. It's as if principals are rule enforcers, stuffy folks with ties tightly wound around their necks. (Okay, I do admit to some discomfort whenever I must do up the top button and sport a tie. I imagine ties were invented by the wife of the man who invented girdles.)

Before becoming a principal, I worked as a teacher. I became a teacher because I loved marking papers. Just kidding. I chose the teaching profession because I love working with kids. It is still a treat to create lessons and work them out in the real world of a classroom. Teachers (and principals) can be some of the most creative folks on the planet. They just need to make sure the paperwork doesn't overwhelm them!

I must admit that, after a day at school, I do not feel the energy or the creative spark to write. I have read about authors who schedule in the time to write each day and stick to this commitment. I, however, am not one of those people. Yes, I could sit in my home office and write for the sake of writing. Maybe after an hour I'd have a sentence or two I could salvage, but more likely I'd have a pile of mush that begs for the delete button.

Everyone has his or her own style. I write when I am motivated, just itching to explore some ideas. I am most refreshed and motivated during summer, winter break and spring break. Beginning this summer, I am taking a year's leave of absence from being a principal. I will get to experience a full year of being a full-time writer. No more excuses about fatigue. No more distractions (other than my two schnauzers). Of course, I'll have to live a simple life given that I won't have a steady income. The idea makes me nervous--and excited about the opportunity!