There are two main reason that I never thought I would be able to quit my job to write a novel. The main complication was that I was always so deeply involved in so many things at work that I never thought I'd find myself in a situation where I could leave without causing major, painful disruption to a ton of people. It just seemed to too selfish.
The secondary reason, not surprisingly, was the money. One needs money, and typically needs a job to secure it.
But then, last summer while on a business trip to the east coast to sell software--a part of my job I think I was pretty good at but didn't particularly enjoy--I realized that I should reassess where I stood on both of those assumed roadblocks.
You see, my company had just hired in a CTO and there were many management changes afoot. They were hiring people to do parts of my job so that I could refocus my efforts on other things (like those sales calls). The result of this was that many of those projects that I had been so heavily involved with were suddenly, explicitly being handed over to other people. At the same time, I was just digging in to my new responsibilities. I was in a kind of limbo--a few more months and I would likely be as critical to my new responsibilities as I had been to my old ones, but that hadn't happened yet.
I distinctly recall guiding my rental car onto an exit ramp that, besides heading to my destination, also headed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when I realized that I could probably quit the next day and not cause anyone all that much stress--at least not relative to what they were already going through as we restructured.
I wasn't as sure about the money--I'd need some spreadsheet time to work that out--but I found myself genuinely giddy at the realization that it was now, for the first time since I joined up, possible for me to leave without causing untenable disruption. I felt like a newly freed man.
Too worried that I'd wimp out that night on the phone, I sent Jody an email as soon as I got back to my hotel. It said, verbatim:
I'm having a great couple of days at work that have been productive and fulfilling. I am also more seriously than ever considering retiring and taking 6-12 months to try and write a book and then--who knows? It's not because I'm hating work, I just think overall I would be a happier person trying something else and feel that all of the hard work over the past 12 years has earned us the right, as well as the financial cushion, to do so.
I'm just sending this so you can start thinking about it and let me know what you think. I know you've said you'd support this decision in the past but I'm pretty serious this time so wanted to give you some time to consider it before we try to talk about it.
I love you more than anything, --me
Cheesy right? But that's the kind of mood I was in. When we talked that night she told me that, once we had a chance to talk through all of the implications in person, she'd support me if it would make me happy.
I could start a whole other website dedicated to examples of how wonderful my wife is. If I did, that moment would be right up there near the the top of the list.