I know I don’t contribute much to this page, but I do love reading everyone's comments. Which is why, when I recently had a conversation with a friend that made me quite annoyed, I thought this would be an interesting topic for 'Teacher Writers'. So, yes, this is just a bit of a rant, but I would also like to know your opinions. If you could afford to, would you stop teaching to write full time?
The way this question arose was because my boyfriend is up for a job that will double his salary. He very loosely suggested that if he got the job, I quit working to focus on my writing. I told my boyfriend that I wouldn’t be comfortable with not working for several reasons – one is that I quite like teaching. Granted, I predominately teach adults, and I predominately teach ‘writing’ and literature subjects; maybe I’d feel differently if I were teaching maths to pre-teens.
I told a writer friend of mine (a journalist who is moving into fiction) about this situation, who told me that I was nuts for not dropping the teaching. Her statement was, “You’re a writer or you’re a teacher. Pick your vocation.”
I tried to explain to her that I get a lot from my teaching: that not only do I usually enjoy it, but I gain a lot from teaching. I tried to explain that the more I interact with students, the more I learn about writing, and that the last ten years of teaching have certainly helped my writing. I believe writing and teaching go together, even if I don’t always like the ethos of the institutions in which I may be teaching. (But, well that’s another story.)
Her response is that people only teach because they can’t afford to write full time, or they only teach as a method of promoting their work. She argued that I would get as much from focusing on writing full time, as I would from teaching.
In the end, we agreed to disagree, especially as she’s never been a teacher. And, for reasons other than the inspiration that comes from teaching, I am very unlikely to give up my day job. But, I wanted to know your opinions. Would you stop teaching if you could? And why?