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?
Kudos, Shanna! One of the most difficult decisions a person can make is realizing a change in one’s life must happen, then do something about it. It’s scary, sad, painful . . . but the rewards are out there! You have great passion and the best is yet to come.
Thank you so very much, Sandie.
Shanna, you have my prayers and positive thoughts headed your way. Always. You have always been an inspiration to me since I first read one of your articles and I can’t honestly remember when that was! I am 35 and still trying to figure out what I’m going to “really” do when I grow up. God leads you where He wants you to go, that I know. Best wishes on your new journey.
Beautiful words. Thank you, Melissa.
My God watch over you as you chart new choices. As a profoundly hearing impaired grand-mother I’ve truly enjoyed reading your blog.
Best wishes to you on your decision! Wishing you much happiness.
Thank you, Shari!
Best of luck in your next endeavor. It’s funny how our children can help in our midlife career changes, as our son’s special needs spurred me to start classroom CART writing, which grew into other avenues of interest.
That is awesome, Patti!
You asked “Would you please pray for my family as this path is pursued?” and I want you to know that I certainly will do so. I wish you the very best in your new career path.
Thanks so much for your prayers, Richard.
Shanna, after spending a life time of shame, self consciousness and derision over my hearing loss, your work has given me some pride, confidence and hope. I thank God for you and wish you all the best. Here’s one I read somewhere……
“When you’ve come to the end of all the light you know and are about to jump off into the darkness of the unknown……faith is knowing that you’ll find something solid to stand upon……or, you’ll be taught how to fly!” Thoughts and prayers….
I appreciate your kind words, Tom.
Shanna, you are definitely on the right path. Warmest best wishes for success with your new endeavor.
Thank you, Vicki!
Shanna, I’ll miss your wise and funny words, but congratulations! As someone who made a big career change at 60 (editor with a paycheck to writer with fingers crossed for sales or speaking engagements), I can attest to the fact that it’s doable. And challenging and fun and rewarding. Best of luck to you.
I so appreciate your support, Katherine!