The short answer is that I just couldn't take it anymore. The long answer is a bit more complicated. In elementary school we had this writing assignment. We often had visiting writers (because my school was freaking amazing) and the author of the Michigan Chillers series had just left. Essentially the assignment was to create your own "Michigan Chiller" fan-fiction. So we chose a city and created spooky titles using alliterations.
I spent days carefully crafting my characters and the strange predicaments they'd find themselves in. I sincerely hope that my mother hasn't squirreled away that old assignment though, because it was SO bad. I'm pretty sure my title was Ice Queen of Ithaca. Truly, it was laughable. But I loved every moment of writing it. Looking back, I know now that I've been chasing that feeling ever since.
Let me stress that I was already making a tidy income from commercial writing before I left my day job. After my 9-5 I would get online and look for small copywriting gigs that I could pick up for fun. So this wasn't a huge surprise to friends and family. Writing had just always felt like a hobby or something that I would teach others to do. After I got my Masters degree I did teach at University for a few years. I love working in academia, I always will. But I wanted to actually DO what I was teaching people. So I left teaching knowing that I would go back to it when the time was right.
I went into sales because...I wanted to be miserable? Lol, self-induced misery aside, I just wanted to pay my bills while I figured everything out. And I think at 25 that was the right thing to do. So I worked. I worked long hours, I worked multiple jobs and I worked until I thought I'd drop. I thought that so long as I was making lots of money the rest would fall into place and I'd be successful. But my definition of success desperately needed to change.
About a year ago I realized that my mentality had shifted. Instead of squeezing writing into my work schedule, I was squeezing work into my writing schedule. Writing was making me happier than any of my jobs ever had. And, as we're all so prone to doing, I started to gravitate towards happiness.
I haven't always loved writing. Our relationship has been stressful, embarrassing, and sometimes heartbreaking. I wasn't always the best writer either. It took me a long time to develop habits and to stop throwing drafts in the garbage. The habits I developed for my commercial writing jobs ended up helping my creative works too though. I had no idea beforehand how INSANELY helpful that would be. Because realistically, unless you have a book agent blowing up your phone--I wish--you probably don't have someone putting a deadline on that novel you're writing.
So writing has made me a better person. It's given me permission to examine the world around me and ask questions. When we're younger we're full of curiosity, but somewhere along the way we lose that. Good writing is capable of bringing back that sense of wonder. Good writing can make you ache with nostalgia and long for people or places you've never experienced before.
And that's what I love the most. I love the freedom to ask questions so I can create worlds for people to wander around in. As a freelance writer, whether I'm writing tag lines or short stories, I get to create something that can make people FEEL. Writing is its own kind of magic and my words are the spells. My elementary school teacher who gave us that writing assignment will never know just what a huge impact she had on me. She's the one who told me that writing was magic. I already knew it, but having an adult confirm my suspicions was life changing. Mrs. Craig told me that writing was magic and that my pencil was my magic wand.
So why did I quit my job to become a full time writer? The less dramatic answer is because I love writing. But, let's be honest, anyone who knows me knows that I did it so that I could be a fucking sorceress. As foolish as it may be, I want the freedom to design my own life and chase my curiosities. I became a writer because when I was younger reading opened my mind to the endless wonders of the universe. It's time I returned the favor in whatever small way that I can.