Failing at Teaching, Writing for the Military, and a Return from Hiatus

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Back to the Blog (a post about Relationships, Teaching, and Writing)

First, I want to say thank you. I have been on a hiatus from the blog and can’t describe how appreciative I have been of some of your support. Last year I was going through a pretty rough time. I believe my last post before this was “Writing While Feeling Worthless,” and I am finally coming out of that dark period.

A few year’s back, I moved down to Augusta, GA from IL with my girlfriend and our one-year old son. I got a job as an English teacher, and she was an RN. Financially, we were solid. We didn’t want for anything, and we had a pretty stable relationship. The problem that kicked everything off was that I was not cut out to be a teacher.

Teaching is the hardest profession I have ever been a part of. It is a thousand times more stressful than the military or sales or even freelancing. The workload between lesson planning, grading papers, and the emotional exhaustion of behavior management left me so drained that I would drive my hour commute home in complete silence. I felt like a failure, and I rarely had the mental energy to even open a book to read let alone write my own.

But my dream had never been to teach, it was to write, and I could feel it slipping away.

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Finding Writing Jobs

In December, I started applying for editorial jobs in New York City. I didn’t believe that I would get hired, but I knew I had to try. I couldn’t go through my life having never seriously attempted to achieve my dream. I wanted to make a full time living writing novels, and I thought working for one of the big publishers certainly wouldn’t hurt those chances. My girlfriend was less than supportive.

After a year living in a different state, she had decided to move back to IL. We argued about this several times over the intervening months as I did not want to move back to IL. After our tenth argument on this subject, I posed her a question; if I got offered a dream job at Tor, if money wasn’t an issue, if all it came down to her decision, would she be willing to move to New York City (or around it) for a year in order to let me try to achieve my dreams.

She said no.

We mutually split by the end of the conversation but still lived together because our lease didn’t end until June. We also have a two-year-old (now three) and neither of us wanted him to be hurt in anyway.  We started talking about what we were going to do after our lease ended, she still wanted to move back IL, and I wanted any other job besides teaching. I applied for grad school, full-time writing-related employment, and submitted a packet to return to Active duty with the military.

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Applying for a MFA in Creative Writing

In May of 2018, I went to Annual Training with my National Guard unit. While I was there, I found out I got accepted into the MFA program for Creative Writing at Columbia as well as an approval to go Active with the Army. While I was debating what to do, a friend called me and told me that my ex-girlfriend had cleared out our apartment, took our son, and moved back to IL. All of this without telling me.

The apartment was empty save for my two guitars, a bookshelf, and the books that I have collected over the years. I was distraught, I was scared, and I was angry. I hired a lawyer (which pretty much drained all of my savings) and though my lawyer was able to secure a court order saying that my ex-girlfriend had to return our son to the county for the duration of the custody hearing, she refused to comply.

Though the judge was sympathetic, they also refused to take any additional action because it wasn’t a stranger that had kidnapped the child. Our son was with his mother. When I inquired what would have happen if I had taken our son and fled the state, they informed me that a state’s attorney could charge me with kidnapping because unless a court order says otherwise, it is assumed that the mother has primary physical custody.

This ordeal sparked such strong emotions that I have tried incorporating some into one of my current WIP’s and this has helped me return to writing on a regular basis.  I was also accepted into the online MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University (Columbia was just too expensive). I returned to Active duty and am serving as the S.C. Army National Guard’s Social Media NCO which has opened me up to a world of growth in terms of marketing-related writing, travel, as well as some insights on how to navigate the early stages of a staff writing career as opposed to freelance.

Everything isn’t perfect, but I felt the need to explain why I have been on such a long hiatus. If you haven’t done so, please hit the subscribe button for a weekly update when I post new content and head over to instagram if you’re interested in seeing some of the photographs I get to take for the military. I love writing, and I love all of you. Thanks for reading.

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