Downshifting: Quitting My Job to Write a Book

Last Sunday I announced to my congregation that I would be leaving my position at the church this June. The reason for my leaving is that I want to spend all of my time and energy finishing some writing projects and finding a home for them, either through traditional publishing, or perhaps through self e-publishing. I also intend to begin a new writing project, which you will hear more about here.

While my announced decision may seem like a surprise to many people in my church, it is even more shocking to me, in many ways. I have flirted with it for years, but what, NOW I am doing it? My heart beats faster as I type these paragraphs. I am doing something I have always wanted to do, but have been too scared to actually do. Now I have done it.

What if I fail? As long as I never really tried, I would not have to face that possibility. But now I am opening the door to that possibility. I may fail at accomplishing a decent manuscript. I may fail at finding a publishing home. I may fail at making any money with my writing.

And yet it feels like tremendous freedom to be able to try. My husband and I have worked hard to have this option. Shall we call it downshifting? Certainly our lifestyle will downshift. We have lived simply all of our married lives. You don’t manage to raise children and give ten percent of your income to the church without living simply.

If you think it’s crass to talk about money out loud, skip the next paragraph.

Quite honestly, I hope we live simply enough to sustain this kind of change to our income. Yes, we have made plans, I don’t mean to imply otherwise. We have thought through the implications of this change. But that doesn’t mean it’s not difficult in some ways. As I hear of friends losing their jobs, it strikes me that the uncertain nature of the economy has made it more difficult to voluntarily give up income.

Besides the economic issues, there are other issues. Like identity. I have never not worked, not since I was 17, other than 6 months at a time, post-partum, and shortly after we relocated for my husband’s career. At some level I wonder how this change in employment will affect my sense of self. What if I don’t begin to make money in new ways? Will it matter that I no longer have a title?

Let’s give a listen as the gears begin to downshift. . . .


8 responses to “Downshifting: Quitting My Job to Write a Book”

  1. You are asking all the right questions … especially the one about “title”. If you can even ask that question, you are ready to be without one. The certainty has landed in your heart. Go with it, right through (and not around) every doubt and question. That’s half the treasure of this time. Or maybe more. What a gift you have been given. What a gift you are extending to yourself!

    1. Thanks for the words of support, everyone. I’m praying for my own writing, and so many of my friends, especially Sue, MA, Susan, Carol.

  2. Congratulations on making your decision. I enjoy the sense of freedom that comes with making the “right” decision for me. May you experience that freedom as it opens up all sorts of energy and possibilities for you. I’m inclined to agree with Susan, just make something up about how you spend your day…I am often several different job holders at the same event! No one really listens anyway. Yes, there will be a period of adjustment; yes, you’ll wonder if this is right; and yes, this will be a new adventure. Enjoy it to the fullest!

  3. Not having a paying job in the Washington area actually can take a special kind of strength. One has to remind oneself NOT to be especially sharp when asked for the thousandth time “So where do you work?” Sometimes I would avoid a new social situation to avoid this question. Other times I was seriously tempted to make something up. Underwater demolition expert, say. Yes, around here, it often is what you do, not who you are.

  4. Many blessings on you and your journey as you differently-shift. I think you might be selling short if you only focus on the downshift side and not the upshift of new opportunities and abilities.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Rob. I don’t mean “downshifting” in a negative way. You downshift when you’re about to climb a long slow hill. Hmm, I feel another post coming on!

  5. Blessings!

    I found myself downshifted rather involuntarily fifteen months ago. Like you, I had been either working, a student, or raising babies for almost thirty years. It took some getting used to, to be sure.

    It sounds like you have many exciting possibilities and some sacred plans ahead of you. Wonderful!

    1. Yes, who ARE you? I feel that.

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