I’m sure you’ve heard people reference parts of their lives as a new chapter, typically after a divorce or break-up. Neil Simon even wrote a play about it called “Chapter Two.” He used it as a form of therapy to cope with his first wife’s death and having to start his life all over again. It’s odd that he didn’t write a sequel, “Chapter Three,” when his second marriage to actress Marsha Mason hit the rocks.
I recently started what I call Chapter Four, but it isn’t in reference to a break-up in the traditional sense. As of July 1, I am gainfully retired from public service. I call this new phase of my life Chapter Four because I’m embarking on my fourth career. The effective date of my retirement marks 40 years to the day that I began working professionally after college.
Chapter One was my first chosen career after graduating from Ohio University. I was a music teacher, something that I had wanted to be since high school. I’ve always had a love and talent for music, not only performing, but composing and arranging. I learned all about the latter two in college, which came in handy when I worked as a public school teacher. What I really wanted to be was a professional musician, either playing the trumpet or writing the arrangements. Teaching was my fallback position. Good thing, too, because I never did make it as a full-time musician.
After a few years, I decided that teaching wasn’t how I thought it would be, so I resigned to start Chapter Two, which was working in the restaurant business. I made an amazing discovery that validated my decision to leave the classroom: as a rookie restaurant manager, I made better money than I did after three years of teaching. That’s sad! I stayed with private sector businesses for nearly 10 years before deciding that there had to be a better way to make a living than working 60 hours a week but only getting paid for 40.
That’s when fortune smiled upon me and I started Chapter Three. I secured a job working with the disabled population in the private sector, then moving into the Department of Developmental Disabilities to work in a residential center for adults. This chapter lasted over 27 years, and overall, I’ve loved every minute of it. I had originally planned on working for the state of Ohio for another three or four years until I hit full retirement age, but fate intervened again. The center where I worked was being closed, and my job was “revoked.” That’s a euphemism for fired, canned, pack up your desk and leave, or hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more. The department offered an early retirement incentive, I qualified for it, I was burned out and disillusioned, so I took it and said goodbye.
Now I’m starting Chapter Four. I’ve established myself locally as a freelance writer, and I’m ready to move beyond that and expand my scope. I have 16 published books, two more slated for release this year, and I have a lot more stories to tell. Due to the pressures of closing our facility over the past two years, my book writing and promotions took a back seat, but no longer. I’m ready to put 15 years of writing, publishing and promotional experience to better use than for my own amusement and satisfaction. It’s time to do what I’ve secretly wanted for a long time: be a full-time writer.
Wish me luck!
P.S.: If you know anyone who’s looking for an experienced hack writer who will basically work for peanuts, send them my way. I’ll owe you one.
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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.