Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tales of a Desperate Freelancer, part I

I think the Mayans were on to something. They knew 2012 was going to be a rough year, they just didn't know why or for whom.

Our tale of woe begins back in the Spring semester of 2011 when I took a course in Advanced Drawing. I loved it. As the semester progressed, I found myself looking forward to class and, increasingly, dreading the trudge back to my dreary little cubicle. I daydreamed about being a designer or doing art for a living. I was given a couple of HTML/CSS-related projects, but it was to implement designs from the Marketing department. I longed to create and be creative.

I made mistakes.

Two, to be exact, and my manager took me to task for them. After multiple sit downs with him, we came to the conclusion that my heart simply was not in programming. Fearing that attempting to stay in a job I could not stand would only lead to further mistakes and possibly getting fired, I submitted my resignation in November of 2011. The resignation was padded, giving me 90 days to find a new job; my last day would be January 31st, 2012 - I figured that would give me plenty of time to get hired and carry us through the holidays.

Thus I updated my personal website, tried to patch together a presentable portfolio, and began hitting up local and national job sites, looking for design positions that would allow me to do what I loved, but would not have to move. I got several calls from the DC/NOVA area, but they were interested only in programming and/or required me to be on-site. Other leads turned out to be for positions which the company already had someone in mind, they just had to advertise the opening for legal reasons.

In December, I was connected to the owner of a local design firm. We talked and he seemed eager to take someone on. Right after Christmas, I went in and spent a full day in the office, familiarizing myself with the team and their projects. The owner wanted to know when I could start working, as they had some projects coming up. I felt obligated to finish my current position (it was three weeks, versus two), but offered to spend that time learning their systems and brushing up on skills they used that I had not in a while on my own time.

Things were looking up. I was teaching myself new software, the stress of looking for work was over and, while I wouldn't be making as much initially, the potential for growth was much better than in my current position.

On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, I emailed the owner of the firm - whom I'd been staying in contact with - a interesting link. He replied by telling me that business had slowed down and they no longer had the amount of work they needed to support my position.

Reading that email, I could feel the bottom drop out of my stomach; I was devastated. What was I going to do? My last day of employment was 14 days away and suddenly I had nothing! I wanted to keep this from my wife - to quietly find a new job, then break the news to her once everything was alright. But I couldn't do it, I had to tell her. She was devastated as well.

Back to the hunt. I called up a friend of mine who said his company might have a position I could try out for - though I haven't heard back yet - I designed and printed up business cards offering services as a freelance Graphic and Web Designer. I started hitting all the local print and design and computer businesses, hoping to generate leads.

I decided to write a blog article about my experience. Maybe it would generate a lead or two. Maybe it would help someone else who was considering a move to freelance work; hopefully they can avoid the same stress that I have experienced.

How will it turn out - Will I succeed? Will I fail? Do I have the skills and ability to provide for my family as a freelancer?

That chapter has yet to be written.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

DnD: Obligatory 5th ed. / D&D Next post

As per the stipulations of being a gamer and playing D&D, I am posting about the recent announcement that WoTC is working on a new edition of the game.

I've been around and heard people complain about new editions before. D&D is not the only game I play in which new editions are released every couple of years, either - Games Workshop's Warhammer (40,000) being the other edition-based game I play.

It's a business, so they need to produce new content to generate income. Additionally, no edition has been (or will be) "perfect" - there will always be something that could be tweaked or reworked to make the game better. (In GW's case, they have to shift the balance of the game to keep different armies viable, and therefore, marketable).

Personally, I don't see myself buying a whole new set of books. Rather, I would like to wait and see what works in 5e and try to incorporate that into my 4e game. I don't have any opinions about rumors that may or may not come true and the only thing on my new edition 'wishlist' is shorter, more streamlined combat. I am interested in learning about new game mechanics, though.

If I had a group that played on a regular basis, and if I weren't already stressed about a big life change (new job), I'm sure I'd have more to say and might care more - and that's fine if you do. I just don't happen to be in that place right now.

So there you go, one more inconsequential post about a new edition that doesn't really even exist yet.