I retired from teaching last June, setting aside at least five years to make this writing business a success. Now, before you start lending your personal definition to 'success,' I will say it is this: I don't go broke.
That's it. A simple requirement. Make enough money to maintain my standard of living. If affluence arrives, super cool! If not? Eh. Who cares? I'm sitting down at the computer by 7:30 a.m. most days and telling stories for a living. How wonderful is that?
The greatest benefit to not playing double-duty (i.e. teaching full-time while squeezing in the writing at nights and on weekends) is simple: My mind is uncluttered. The pressure is off. And my writing? Better than ever. I can churn out quality material in two months that used to take five or six. The reality is that teaching is a 24/7 job. You can be off the clock, even caught up in grading and lesson planning, but the job never leaves you. It's always hovering in the back of your mind. It can be that all-consuming.
No more. I have to say that one of the most pleasant surprises (and something I did worry about) is that I haven't burned out on writing or become bored with this routine. The reason most likely: I don't write stories that trod over familiar ground. I enjoy shaking up my characters and their worlds. And that, my friends, is delicious fun.