Currently, I work as a technical writer for a large Silicon Valley firm. It’s a good job, I like my boss, I like the work, and best of all I’m able to telecommute. As jobs go, it’s about as good as I could ask for. But I’ve been doing it for about 27 years now (over 15 of it at the same company, or one it acquired) and I’m starting to feel the leading edge of burnout.
The thing that’s really been feeding this burnout is that my writing (I self-publish an urban fantasy series) is starting to take off now. I’ve got five books out plus a box set, and while they’re not earning me enough that I can quit my job yet, the possibility exists that they could, and in the not too distant future (like the next couple of years, if they continue to do as well as they have in the last year).
I’m really starting to feel like I should take the plunge and follow my dream. I’m 51, the spouse has a great job (thought not enough to support us on one income in the Silicon Valley) and is totally supportive, and I’m thinking that in addition to writing fiction, I could also look into taking on some freelance editing job (I’m a good fiction editor) and maybe a little gaming work to supplement the writing income. Moving isn’t an option, nor is cutting expenses to the bone–I don’t want to live like a monk, and It’s not fair to ask my spouse to do it either. We have a lot of expenses we can cut (eating out way more often than we need to, extra vehicles, etc.), though.
It’s alluring, but it’s also very scary. Leaving a secure job with a good income to follow a dream at my age–do people do that? I’m curious to hear from others who’ve done the same thing–what did you have to think about (tax implications, etc.) and how did it work out for you? Any hidden gotchas that might not occur to me?
This isn’t something I’m looking at doing right away. I plan to see how things go in the next year or so, (I’ve got three more books in the hopper and ideas for several more, so the series has a path), talk to a financial advisor and some friends in the industry, and try to be as much of an adult about the whole thing as I can. But I really feel this pulling at me, and I wonder if I will always regret it if I don’t take the chance.