For many of us older—but not too old-- teachers/writers who can figure out a way to release ourselves from full-time teaching before the body starts to break down past the point of repair-- we’re often called back (the siren call of students we want to teach and books we want to write) and yes, the need for some money. My friend, Jackie Davis-Martin, a teacher and writer, also took the plunge to leave full-time teaching—she left at 62—-despite some money fears and then also took on some part-time teaching and continues to write.
When she was full-time and “collecting annoyances” as she said, she ached for a weekend without grading and got annoyed when people said, “It’s Friday, Happy Weekend!” The life of a full-time English teacher is non-stop grading. Period. And if you decide to take a weekend off, the piles just grow—multiply like dishes or rabbits. Unlike some people who fear THE VOID, Jackie says, “I didn’t have fears of ceasing to be (thanks, Keats), but some fears of money. I’d been teaching in California only seventeen years and, when I visited a retirement advisor, he was full of so many “should haves” about what I should have done with my life that I actually wrote a short story about him. “
Now she teaches part-time at City College of San Francisco (where we met) and she says, “I love my colleagues, love the students, love what I am teaching. Part-time allows me involvement in the college, but time to write. I write both fiction and non-fiction.
So: this is my retirement.”
Not everyone slips into this new life of the not quite retired so easily. Age-related discrimination is real and many young people are scrambling for jobs as well. It’s a risk to leave a job early—but ultimately for those of us who write—those of us who wake up in the middle of the night thinking of a scene from our book—or who listen to the lilt in the voice of the Starbuck’s server as he takes our order hearing “Chai Latte” roll off his tongue like music—or for those of us who have buried our desires six feet deep into the earth because we have to “make money” “be responsible” then taking this chance at a new life with part-time work and extra time brings us teachers/writers back to the old magic of words.
Causes Louise Nayer Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center
Doctor's Without Borders