Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Good-bye, day job!

One year from today I will attend commencement at Vanderbilt University, where I’ve been teaching since 1984.

This will be the end of my day job. I’ll finally be able to turn my full attention to writing and writing-associated activities: learning about new book formats, meeting with other writers, puzzling out the world of publicity, traveling to visit schools and libraries to talk about my books and about writing in general, and especially, working with the Regional Advisors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in my position as RA Coordinator.

Sounds great in theory, but I know I’ll feel a sense of loss. I’ve loved my job—well, usually. Sometimes I’ve just tolerated it, but I’ve never hated it. I have wonderful friends there, and I know that as I lose touch with their daily lives and with the joys and frustrations of university teaching, I’ll inevitably drift away from some of them. I’ll miss the daily contact with bright and interesting young people.

Plus there’s the little matter of the paycheck and benefits.

But I’ve been doing the same job for twenty-eight (twenty-eight!) years, and it’s time to move on.

This weekly blog will chronicle the last year of my day job. I’d love to hear from people—either as guest bloggers or commenters—who have done this, whether writers or not. What did you do to plan? What do you wish you had done differently? What was some great advice you got? How did you handle the loss of a paycheck? And I want to hear from people who are contemplating the same move. What are you worried about? Excited about? What do you want to learn about? How much pre-planning are you doing?

I look forward to sharing this journey with you!


  1. Sounds like it will be a wonderful experience. Do they not have any sort of retirement package where you still get some pay? I plan to retire in May of 2017 if I can pull it off.


  2. Nope! No package. There wouldn't be one even if I were tenured, which I'm not. Academe is a harsh mistress.

    Please post any concerns or questions you have--I'm going to try to deal with my own concerns (the basics of which I'll outline in my next post on Wednesday), but you might have totally different ones!

  3. Tracy,
    I can tell from your first post that this will be an amazing -though somewhat bittersweet- year for you. I look forward to following your journey!

  4. "Bittersweet" is the right descriptor, Angela!

  5. Hi Tracy
    Great idea for a blog.....I have a feeling that there are a LOT of other people out there who are "in flux" in their lives. If you think about it most of our lives are spent in flux.....sometimes willingly sometimes not! Once you get thru the first week of "OMG....I don't have a job.....I DON'T have a job" it'll settle back down!(grin) I look forward to seeing your ongoing journey.

  6. Oh, those regular paychecks. I remember those. I think. In the distant past...

    Being a full-time writer is great. It's the best job I've ever had. But there are little things (like balancing social media/promotion with actual writing time) and big things (like the aforementioned income issue) that make it the most complicated job I've ever had. But it's certainly the most rewarding. Now the only "Man" I'm working for is me!

    I have other thoughts and experiences to share, but they are many and (at present) random. I look forward to reading your posts and chiming in with whatever I have to offer.

    In the meantime, congrats! And don't let Short-timers Disease make you crazy...

  7. Exactly, Alan! It's the combination of social/media promtion, actual writing time, AND having a regular job that has finally done me in!

    As for Short-Timers Disease--I'm already suffering from a major case of senioritis and I suppose it will just get worse. I'll try to hide it from my students!