“I’m taking the year off…to…um…write”

I am embarking on a strange new way of living, one that is structured only by my own self-discipline, rewarded in a currency of my own making, and with a high possibility of some type of failure. After ten years of teaching in a formal high school classroom, I am leaving behind that structure to live amongst amorphous time and space. I have been planning in detail this leap, but have been surprised by how little I can explain to other people. For so long my introduction was a simple resume, with name brand recognition, sign markers of growth and a steady salary increase. People always smiled when I could tell them exactly – “I am a teacher…high school…in Boston. Yes I love it.” The exchange became automatic, sometimes with a touch of nostalgia about their favorite teacher or a cousin’s husband with the same job. And I could expand or compress the conversation as it suited me.

Now all I can offer is an uncomfortable blank, “I’m taking the year off…to…um…write …yeah I’ve been writing for a little while…a blog and some other projects…” As I trail off. The oft repeated advice amongst artist is simple: create lots, disclose little. Talking about projects makes them susceptible to the germs and bacteria harbored in the outsiders gaze. I have yet to read any advice about what polite conversation can fill the awkward silence that follows my stuttering explanation. “So…yeah…ah…we’ll see I guess.” And the other participant has even less to say…”sounds great, good luck.”

So luck is all I am offered. Luck – a flimsy blessing, a dollar store off brand support, prayers from an atheist. Within the wishing of luck there can be a tone of dismissal, a tone of pessimism, or a tone of pity. And I want to refute it but I can’t. All I could offer is a rambling montage of words not yet written, characters born deformed, and dreams or nightmares of a future audience actually receiving some evolved solid state from this gelatinous blob. “So yeah good luck with all that,” has become a mantra, it echoes in my thoughts – this is going to take a wholesale cargo container amount of luck.

to fail or not to fail, what is your response

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