Ever been confused by the phrase ‘working writer’? I know I have. I used to think it meant a person who was a writer that also had to ‘work’ at something else. “That’s me!” I thought. Wrong. A working writer, like a working artist, or a working actor, means you make your living at your chosen craft.
There is something almost ‘mystical’ about being able to put that word ‘working’ before any of the other terms. As if those of us that have to keep a day job don’t really cut it in the world of ‘real’ writers. I work hard – I mean really hard – often writing into the wee hours or squeezing all of my other ‘writerly’ duties in after a long day of teaching school. What I wouldn’t give for the luxury of just being able to write!
I get a taste of this every summer, but now that school is back in session, I’m back to finding ways to fit my writing habit into the rest of my life. It’s not so bad, though. I actually love my day job and I’m really not sure I’m ready to give it up completely, anyway – despite all my whining. There is something very satisfying about making a difference in the lives of another human being, and I’ve been teaching long enough and had enough students come back to me and say, “Thank you!” for so many things – large and small, that I know I have touched some lives along the way.
I did make the decision last spring to cut back on my hours in an attempt to make my life a little less hectic. Instead of full time, I now teach “.86” or 86%. What this amounts to is 80 minutes of prep time a day rather than the allotted 40. In my case it makes a huge difference since in the high school, we got a full 80 minute prep one semester and nothing the next. Now I’ll have my 80 minutes every day – time to prepare for my classes and do marking without having to stay so late in the day. So far it’s already making a difference, allowing me time during the school day that I would normally have to spend after hours or at home.
I’m still slogging away in the evenings with my blog, social networking, and also trying to edit and write new material. But at least I’ve released a bit of pressure. It’s one small step toward making my life as a ‘working-non-working writer’ easier to handle.