pretty in pink photo from I was twenty, a journalism professor gave me some of the best career advice I’ve ever received: “You’re the belle of the ball. Dance with everyone.” He meant, “If an opportunity comes up, you take it.” When it comes to your job, take every opportunity you’re given.

And I have. And you know what? It’s served me well in the years since then. So well, in fact, that (*knock wood*) I’m finally in a position I never thought I’d be in. The position to say, “No, I’m gonna sit this one out.” I never thought that day would arrive.

For the time being, I’m putting my teaching career on hold. (For those of you who don’t know, I have taught an advanced PR writing course at a university for the last few years.) I finally told the department yesterday that I wouldn’t be teaching in the spring. This decision has been weighing on me for a while now. I’m making serious progress in my fiction writing career. I’m finding my voice as a blogger, my footing as a social-media user, and revising a few manuscripts to query. I have a plan, specific goals, and a path. And I’m really, really freakin’ happy about it.

ballet dancerBut I had arrived at the point where I was dancing the tarantella instead of waltzing. And long-term tarantella is bad on the body, the mind, and the soul. My brain was turning to mush, which was killing my creativity and taking a toll on my health.

That’s not to say I’ll never teach again. I’m fairly certain that I will, because I consider teaching to be a very fulfilling vocation. Saying no to teaching—even temporarily—was a difficult choice. It’s a short-term sacrifice for a lifelong dream and long-term goal: pursuing my writing career. But there will be other dances.

I can’t help but feel that I’m setting out on a new path, starting a new chapter in my career. New chapters are scary, but also exciting. And I’m excited to see what words I will pen—and oh, yes, the places I will go.

Thanks to all my blogging buddies, Twitter peeps, and Team WANA1011 for sharing your writing experiences, thus helping me screw my courage to the sticking place and make this decision. Y’all rock! 🙂 (And yes, I went from Seuss to Shakespeare in under 10 seconds. Is that a record?)

Have you ever reached such a turning point in your career? What big decisions have you made in order to follow your dreams?