I am archiving older pieces I have written on other sites, making this the definitive home for all my work. Enjoy!
Two weeks ago, almost to the hour, I received a meeting invitation in my Outlook from the HR Director titled “Check In.” I’d been on the job for a little over 2 months and I’d spoken with the CEO maybe 2 weeks before that about struggling a little, then sat with a technical director to review where I was going wrong, losing a lot of productivity despite massive effort. I felt I’d gotten a decent sense of where my problems were—Interface Builder had changed a lot in the last 2 revisions, the project I was assigned to had some conventions that were unfamiliar to me, and I’d spent most of the previous 2 years writing mid-tier components to be consumed by other programmers. I felt my trajectory had nosed sharply upward, and a check in after 2 weeks was logical to see how I was progressing.
HR is a fascinating discipline. I know little to nothing about it, but I do know that HR people have a tendency to reframe everything as your fault, always. “We feel that your skills aren’t where we need them to be, so we’re letting you go.” Blindsided. Sucker punched. Pause… regroup. Respond. “That’s unfortunate, and not what I was hoping to hear, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.” This isn’t my first rodeo, bitches. I’ll be good. And my skills are just fine, fuck you very much.
I’ve hated almost every job I’ve had, ever. The goals of medium and large corporations are inscrutable, perverse, impersonal. I’d satisfied myself for years by finding technical challenges “in the small” to solve—how can I optimize this subsystem, make that component robust—but I reached a point maybe a year ago where the problems put before me presented no conceptual challenge, just the tedium of execution, massaging code until the compiler is satisfied. I saw the architectural solution immediately. I wished for interns to do the actual coding, so I could get back to surfing the web with irritation, rolling my eyes at the pointlessness of breathless un-newsworthy blog postings.
Work is a necessity, though. Rent, bills. Now daycare and doctor visit co-pays. Savings, investments. But not this time. No more. This time I am asserting control.
Control is an illusion. Control is relative. Is it control to be a freelance developer? You set your hours, you take the projects you want, except you still HAVE to take some projects, and you HAVE to meet the demands of the client, because you HAVE to earn money to pay bills, etc. Even becoming an independent software vendor, you have to answer to your customers. Become a writer, you have to answer to your editor, to your readers. All economic activity trades independence and control for revenues and returns; unless you are sitting on a huge cash pile with no need to earn a living, you must make peace with giving up control.
It’s been two weeks. Prospects are developing. I’ve set financial benchmarks for each of the next six months to let me know whether the prudent thing is to go find another job. I’m working on my own product that I hope to launch later this year (eyeing the CTN animation expo in Burbank in November—(well, that didn't happen! -Ed); as usual, it coincides with the US F1 Grand Prix in Austin which sets up some conflict; last year I chose F1). I plan to write more. I hope to start adding editorial illustrations to my posts/essays.
I’m seizing the opportunity to try, unafraid to fail because failure is not an end. It’s just a waypoint.