Take This Job and Shove It! I'm a Writer Now

A writer scrapes up the courage to quit his salary job and become a full-time writer. He takes us through the steps he took.

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You're not alone if you've had a daydream or two about leaving your day job to chase a dream. It'd be great, right? Well, Mark Peter Hughes did it and he says it took some nerve.

Mr. MARK PETER HUGHES (Author, "Lemonade Mouth"): That' right. I left the secure, well-paying job I've had for 10 years in order to write novels for teenagers fulltime. Yes, I know. It's a shaky financial endeavor at best, arguably a stupid thing to do especially for someone with a family to support. And I've always been a steady, responsible guy, honest.

Suddenly dropping the job is way out of character for me. Still though, and this is the thing, if you ask me when I was 9 years old what I wanted to be when I grew up, would my answer have been, I want to be the director of analytic services at a health care data company? No way. But late at night when my wife and three small kids slept, I stayed up and wrote, and then two years ago Random House published my first novel. My second just came out and the reviews have been really good.

So Karen and I recently huddled around the spreadsheet and made the scary decision. Sure, it will mean we'll have a lot less money but we'll cut back. We'll eat out less. We'll put off going on vacations. The next day, I worked up a nerve, walked into my boss' office and gave my notice. My stomach was in knots but I did it. I actually quit my day job to become a fulltime writer.

My last day at the office arrived and it felt terrifying. As everybody stood around the goodbye cake, I wondered what I was getting myself into, if I'd made the right decision. It was surprising how many of my fellow office workers came up in private to tell me about their own extracurricular aspirations. It turns out I've with working with three other writers, a couple of wannabe entrepreneurs, an illustrator, a jewelry maker, a musician and a photographer. And they wished they had the nerve to do what I was doing.

As I walked out to the parking lot, I had conflicting feelings. Nervousness and even emotional about the security I was leaving behind, but happiness at the adventure I was about to begin. I'm not only going to write stories, I'm living one. I know how it starts, but the mystery lies ahead. Is it a story about the importance of following your dreams or a story of a 40-year-old man screwing up big time?

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NORRIS: Mark Peter Hughes is the author of the book "Lemonade Mouth".

SIEGEL: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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