Today is Labor Day here in the States—a holiday celebrating people who work for a living, and the unofficial end of summer (though here in south Texas the temperature will stay close to 100 Fahrenheit for several more weeks). But in 28-days-but-who’s-counting, I’m leaving the labor force. As students and teachers start a new school year, I’ll be starting something new myself—life as a Federal retiree and full-time writer.

My career with the U.S. government has spanned 33 years with six agencies in four cities. Most of that time I truly enjoyed my work—I never called it the Evil Day Job. But after doing the same thing for so long, I’m ready for a change. And coming off of my recent success as a Golden Heart ® finalist, the time seems right to get serious about trying to turn writing from a hobby into a career.

This is a step I’ve hesitated to take up to now. Even after an amazing agent agreed to represent me, I didn’t start taking my writing expenses as business deductions on my tax returns. Partly this was laziness, but on some level I think it was also fear. By admitting I was trying, I’d have opened myself up to the possibility of failing. That’s a scary step, but one it’s time to take.

I’ve consulted a financial planner. I’ve found a coffee house with free wifi, comfy seats and a great vibe within bicycling distance of my paid-off house. All that’s left is to clean out my office for my replacement, who arrives in two weeks, and figuratively ride off into the sunset.

As a young law student straight out of college, I looked at some of my classmates in their thirties and forties and felt mildly superior. They’d taken a decade or two longer than I had to figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up. I smile now, wondering if some of my younger writer friends think the same thing about me. But I’ve learned it’s not that simple. Becoming a lawyer wasn’t a mistake; in fact I plan to keep my license current. But going on to a second career with different challenges isn’t a mistake either. I have this big, frightening, exhilarating new adventure ahead of me. Let the games begin!

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