This week, I read an email from a well-known author about a realization that her days of making a living as an author and speaker may be coming to an end. Her honesty and insight struck me. For over a year, I have felt the nudging that my days as an author and speaker may be coming to an end, too.
At first, it was the irritation of repeatedly being asked by organizations to write articles or speak to their groups for free. ‘Can you donate your services? We don’t have the budget to pay for your article (or presentation), but we can offer you great exposure.’
I’m sorry, but I have a college degree, 20 years’ experience as a professional writer, and two books under the belt to donate my services in exchange for the exposure.
Second and most important: I had run out of things to write and say. How many more stories could I concoct, and how many presentations about hearing loss could I envision? The answer was none. It went beyond writer’s block or communication challenges. Those can be fixed by not giving up in the middle of writing a story or workshop proposal. I simply grew less excited about staring at a computer screen, waiting for literary ideas to spill out of the brain. It was no longer exciting or challenging or fun. I had hit not only a wall but a free-fall cliff waiting behind that wall. What joy could be found in pushing oneself further into a career that felt like its end should have happened a year ago?
I don’t write this to shame the writing and speaking profession. Many authors are getting their books successfully published and sold, while many a speaker continues to get invitations to keynote high-profile events. The realization that my writing and presentation days are likely coming to an end is something I wrestled with and is a personal realization.
What does that mean for the future? Without the ability to see what God holds for the days and years ahead, I am left with what I know now. I love being a wife and mom and will continue to give my best to family. And a new professional path is starting to develop as I take the first steps in pursuing a long-held desire to teach. Many years ago while in college, I considered changing my major to Education, but at that time the desire to write won out. In the past year, I have worked as an elementary school speech and language paraprofessional, applied to graduate school, and have been accepted into an early childhood special education program.
Why special education? It goes back to hearing loss and the things I have learned about advocacy. As a young child with an undiagnosed hearing loss, I did not benefit from the educational services now available in schools, such as speech therapy and assistive listening devices. I want to help young children receive these services and thrive in the classroom.
Second, I have seen with one of my children the benefit of special education. When my son needed assistance with speech, he received language services in school. When he needed help with social skills, a classroom teacher and autism intervention specialist provided him with guidance and coping strategies.
So, more than 20 years after writing my first short story and giving my first presentation, I am looking forward to a new career path. I hope to make a difference in education. And as a wife and mom.
Would you please pray for my family as this path is pursued?