I decided at age eleven that I was going to be an author and would
tell anyone who asked—and some who didn’t. One person I told was my
dad. He said, “That’s great. You’re going to need a day job, too.” You
see, Dad was a practical electrical engineer. He was a planner, and he
always thought it was important to have a backup plan for the
worst-case scenario. This planning and foresight was a blessing to my
family and still is nearly five years after his death.
So at eleven, when my dad said I would need a day job, I wasn’t hurt
or upset; I was determined. Because even though I am 80 percent
right-brained artist, 20 percent of me is Daddy’s girl planner.
In my middle school years, my dad and I sat at the dining room table
and discussed my backup plan options. In the end, we settled on
librarian. I loved the library, and as far as we could tell, librarians
didn’t have to take their work home at night, which would give me time
to write until I hit the big time. Since that day, I have not deviated
from the plan. In high school, I got my first job as a shelver at my
local public library, and right after college, I went to library school
and earned my master’s degree in one year. Dad was proud. A plan well
executed was something to celebrate in the Flower home.
Now ten years after library school, I am the published mystery author that I always dreamed of being. My ninth published novel, Murder, Simply Stitched,
which I wrote under the pen name Isabella Alan, will release on June 3,
2014. I’m contracted for six more novels for various publishers beyond
that release. At the same time, I’m a full-time college librarian.
Now, my question is do I need an escape plan? Do I feel like I can
retire from librarianship at a young age and dedicate my life to
writing? Maybe. To make the decision, I take all the money and benefits
out of the equation. It comes down to a basic question: Can I give up
being a librarian? No, not yet, because somewhere along the way of the
backup plan, I fell in love with my day job. And because of this
struggle with leaving librarianship, I realize that my backup plan was
never mine in the first place. This was God’s plan all along. He let me
think it was a temporary backup plan, and I’m sure He smiled when my
teenaged self pronounced I would quit my day job when I sold my first
book. He knew that I needed to be a librarian to better serve Him by
serving college students and faculty who are just trying to survive the
I spend my days and some of my nights helping college students
navigate the information explosion. I teach them how to evaluate
sources and what makes some research more credible than another. I also
spend a large portion of my time learning new technology and making it
work to better support the college’s mission and the curriculum. These
pursuits are fulfilling.
Every time I can make a student on the
edge of tears smile, I think God winks. Every time a faculty member
sends me a thank-you note, I think God chuckles.
I can’t say that having two full-time careers is easy. There is a
cost. I’m tired much of the time. I live on Starbucks coffee. I miss
out on events with family and friends because I have to either work at
the library or write on the weekends. Sometimes, I turn down book
signings and speaking engagements because I am out of vacation time.
I put up with it because I know I’m following God’s call to be an
author and a librarian. He will tell me when it’s time for a change and
when the backup plan can retire. Until then, I will drink more coffee.