I've been thinking more and more about my previous post about "writer or not?", mainly because one of our contract staff (there were only four of us) resigned a few weeks ago, to write, and earlier this week we four met to talk writing, teaching and what she's going to do. She's doing a Masters as well as working on various projects. I think resigning from paid employment is a terribly courageous move. Sometimes new and enthusiastic writers do it, envisioning fame and fortune just around the corner. That's more of a naive move, and they're usually back at work in six months time. But for those of us who've been around awhile, there are no such delusions (though of course we wouldn't complain if they happened our way). So it is an act of courage, an act of faith -- a decision that isn't made lightly but after careful weighing up of finances and realistic expectations.
When I first fell pregnant, people would say to me, "What are you going to do in all your spare time?" These were people without children. And with a glimmer of the excitement I felt, I would tell them I was going to write. I was writing anyway. I fitted it into the late nights after my husband went to bed. In my mind, the baby would sleep all day, and, oh joy, I would be free to write! Little did I picture a baby who never slept in the daytime and countless hours trying to pacify her.
Time like that didn't come until my two children were at school. I had one year of it, where I wrote large screes -- but my husband became unemployed, and I was forced back to work. Don't get me wrong: I love teaching. It was a stretch at first, but I really love it. I enjoy the whole university push to get us out and being entrepeneurs a whole lot less, but that's another story. I love seeing the creative fire in my student's eyes and knowing that I'm helping build their skills towards realising their own dreams, and I find that my writing is often consigned again to those late night shifts. But I will take it where I can get it. Sometimes, I think, the pressure of a deadline is more motivating than unlimited time to make me put my bum on seat. Unlimitless time requires discipline -- but then this always has been the writer's most important commodity. Not time, not skill or talent or anything else, but discipline.