I’ve been pretty busy the last several days, getting the novel in-progress whipped into something resembling a manuscript that won’t make my editor want to run in front of a bus. In and around all of that, there have been some other things happening. A close circle of friends knew ahead of time, but now we’re here and I figure I may as well share the news with the rest of you. After all, it certainly will affect things going forward, including what you might be seeing here…hopefully for the better.
Last Friday, my corporate life clock officially turned black, as it was my last day with my full-time employer. Basically, the account we had with our client came to an end, and my choices were to attempt to find a new position within the company, or receive a severance package as part of a “work force reduction.” After investigating the available opportunities and knowing that relocation was not a real option (you may recall that we just moved into a new house back in the spring), I chose Door #2.
Though my time with Hewlett-Packard now has come to an end, I can honestly say that the experience of being let go has been about as decent and dignified as I think these things get. We were told months ago that this (likely) would happen, we were kept up to date as developments came about, and there have been all sorts of tools and such to aid with the transition. I actually had my first brush with a layoff back in 2003 while working for Sprint. That company had outsourced a lot of its IT work to two other firms, IBM and Electronic Data Systems (EDS), and I was one of the lucky ones who was hired (by EDS) to support that work. Later, when EDS was acquired by HP in 2008, I once again was one of the fortunate folks to be carried over. One of the nice things that EDS did when they hired me was bridge my employment with Sprint, and HP did the same, giving me a cumulative total of 16 years for purposes of–among other things–vacation, retirement/401k contributions, and, at the end of it all, my severance package.
So, as none of this was a surprise, I (and the other people so affected) had plenty of time to plan. In addition to checking the postings within HP, I also was looking into employment alternatives with another company. However, as I scanned what jobs were available, crossing out those where I didn’t think my skill sets were a match or which required relocation, I started understanding that what was left either would pay much less than I was earning or just be something I simply didn’t want to do.
Then, I began to realize something else: I just didn’t want to do any of this shit anymore.
For one thing, I’ve been in IT for almost 30 years. Call it a midlife crisis, or a crisis of confidence that maybe I wouldn’t be able to find something where I was a good fit and would be able to make decent money, but the idea of starting over at or near the bottom of someone else’s corporate cubicle farm was disconcerting, to say the least.
Therefore, this week started with me in a position I’ve not known since I had my first job at age 16: Unemployed.
Well, not really.
After a couple of long discussions with She Who Is My Wife and My Rock, and with her actually and *actively* encouraging me to do so, I made a bold choice: I’m going into business for myself, kinda sorta. While I was checking out the IT job listings, I also was quietly making inquiries about the possibility of securing more freelance work. I’ve mentioned every so often that I’ve had to pass on projects because balancing my day job along with the writing I already had on my plate saw to it that I just didn’t have the time to commit to anything more. When I approached a few folks with news of my “increased availability,” the early feedback I got in a couple of cases was a variation of, “Where the hell have you been? I’ll put your ass to work right now,” which was gratifying.
One thing I seem to have in my favor that wasn’t necessarily the case a decade ago is that I’ve had a decade more to build a reputation as somebody worth hiring (I’m told) as well as a network of connections. With all of that apparently going for me–along with the support over the years of a growing and loyal readership–as well as that aforementioned severance package to cushion the landing, I’ve decided to pursue writing full-time.
As I write this, and after delivering the manuscript for my latest novel to its editor, I have signed contracts for two more novels (one solo, the other a collaboration with Kevin), and verbal agreements for two more after that, with the contracts on the way. There have been discussions about future books as well as other projects. I’m starting to get serious about an original SF concept that’s been percolating for a bit and which I hope to shop to publishers, and I’m even planning to dip my toe a bit deeper into the self-publishing pool. I like to think I’m pretty adaptable, and I’m willing to entertain anything that sounds interesting.
Have words, will write. And all that.
So, I’m gonna get a bit of my Hank Moody on for a while–hopefully without the endless train of bad decisions–and I guess we’ll see what we’ll see, right? I’m hopeful, excited, and a little scared…all at the same time.
And so it goes.