Drawing the Chicken 1: The Pivot
It’s past midnight, and I turned my phone off hours ago for my nightly tech detox, so I’m not quite sure what I’m doing here, typing into this newsletter that I haven’t even shared with anyone yet. I’m not usually a night owl, certainly not a writerly night owl, but something tells me sleep will not come until I write these thoughts out.
I am on edge. Emotionally, sure, but in much more interesting ways too. For some years now, I have been saying I wanted “a new job” — except, as a freelancer, I don’t have a job to quit or one to apply for (I did apply for one recently, only to find myself dissuading the employer from hiring me at the interview — I knew I wasn’t the right fit even before they did). Every so often, LinkedIn sends me a message about someone hiring for some position the algorithm thinks I’ll be good at, and every so often the temptation of a regular pay check grabs my attention for a minute. For all that the freelance life is made out to be, it is also a lot of hustling… and eleven years in, I’m tiring of the hustle.
Well, for starters, full time work and full time illness don’t go so well together. I have eye surgery at least once a year, so that’s two months of away-time off the bat. Add in limited screen time and very low stamina and energy thanks to all the surgeries, then mix in regular flare-ups of two major illnesses that land me regularly in bed and darkened rooms, and I’m not exactly the full-time candidate your average company is looking for.
Plus, I love too many things to enjoy doing one all the time. I want to write, I want to play with clay, I want to teach, I want to work in social justice and development, I want time to daydream. And I want a slow life, one where I can work from the road, drink tea staring out of windows, have time to bake. I want the flexibility to show up for a friend in another city when they are ill, and the possibility of going on a month long road trip with my partner when we feel like it.
I want too much, I know.
But it has been possible for a long time; I’ve made it possible for over a decade now. I’ve taught creative writing from my living room, from mountain retreats, and increasingly online, and I’ve always found enough takers to be able to sustain this life I dream of. I’m nothing but incredibly grateful for this sustenance.
Which is why this next step feels like such a leap of faith. Over the last two years, as more and more of the world pivots towards online teaching (anyone can do it now, for better and for worse), I’m finding that I’m tired of the hustle. I miss the days when word of mouth was enough marketing and I never sent out a follow up email for registrations, leave alone did social media posts around it. I miss the days when workshops meant leisurely conversations in my living room over brownies and coffee, and I desperately miss the quiet, low-tech week in between sessions. While the online space has opened up a million new possibilities, all of which I’m grateful for, I’m also ready to leap off this comfortable ledge into something new and terrifyingly unknown.
I will not stop teaching altogether: I love it too much. But I’m slowly starting to pivot away from it, into a world of more writing, more flexibility, more quiet hours alone with worlds — and fewer social media posts! After my current workshops end in October of this year, I’m taking at least a 6 month break from teaching, the only exception being the writing channel that I run. I’m leaning into my own writing, finishing up a draft of the book I’ve been working on for 4 years, and then waiting to see what emerges for me next. It’s all a big wide WHOA right now— I have never, in all these years, despite all these surgeries, taken such a long break from the next thing, but something in my heart is sure that I will not know what is next until I let go of what is now.
I might bring back a couple of my workshops— but not all of them.
I might pick up some trainings— but not as many.
I might look for some steady freelance writing work — but not too much.
I don’t know exactly what lies ahead. I only know I’m ready to pivot.