In August 2013, I was let go after fifteen years on the job. “Restructuring”, that watchword of the new millennium, post-financial-collapse, was to blame. (Actually, twenty years ago, when this happened the first time? That was restructuring, too. I wasn’t the only one then, and I’m not the only one now.)
Fifteen years isn’t nothing, though, and although I can’t be specific about the details, if I live sensibly, I don’t need to worry about finding another job until November 2014. What could a person do with fifteen months of financial security, and no fixed schedule? Anything she liked! Job loss is traumatic for many people. For me, it’s more often been a dream come true.
The freedom was nearly paralyzing for the first few months, actually. Beyond “taking the rest of the summer off” and going to yoga frequently, I had no real plans. My husband and I took a short vacation, and I went to the annual local writer’s conference, Surrey International Writer’s Conference. And I knew I was going to do Nanowrimo, of course. Because there would never be a more convenient November for that. And knew I wanted to spend more time writing. But I hadn’t quite decided exactly how, when, or how I was going to do that.
But now I do. My friend Leena, who is just about to graduate from the 2013 cohort of the program, suggested I apply to the 2014 session of The Writer’s Studio, a year-long part-time creative writing program with an emphasis on learning in community. I doubted, I dodged, I claimed not to have enough sample writing of sufficient quality to submit with an application, or any time to crank out more. But Leena wouldn’t let me dodge. She offered to vet my writing samples, and help in any other way she could. Who could turn down such generosity? I scraped together everything I could find, and tremulously sent the pages to her. And while she reviewed my samples, I wrote the required letter, maximum 2 pages, saying why I thought TWS was the right program for me.
It’s a good letter. It’s even witty in places. And yet, I note on re-reading it now, underneath the clever phraseology and persuasive language, there is something else: pain, a raw sorrow that it has taken me so long to pursue something that has been almost a lifelong dream, a regret that my post-high-school self bought what she was being sold, and pursued a paycheque instead. And then there’s the delicious, sweet, creamy irony that the pursuit of that paycheque is the very thing that has made it possible for me to pursue the writing dream now.
I found out on Monday that I’ve been accepted to the program. I have spent the last four days with my head in the clouds, and come January, it’ll be there most of the time. I can hardly wait.