So, About That Novel

Man, what a month.

Nearly everything was my own damn fault, and nothing catastrophic, but there’s been a lot of big scary changes around these parts.

The largest of these, of course, is that I quit my job and got a new one. I’m not going to get into the details, but some stuff happened I didn’t like and I decided to get out of there. The two weeks before I left were insane and bittersweet. I’m gonna miss my team there, they were far and away the best part of that job (though the free chiropractor visits weren’t bad either).

I wound up at another software development shop in downtown Peoria, and they seem like they’re going to be really good to work for. There are a few minor bummers for me involved in this switch. My new job doesn’t pay as much as my old one (though I suspect the benefits to my morale and sanity will be well worth it), and my new job’s policies on Internet usage are more restrictive than I had before. This effectively means that you’re not going to see much of me on Twitter or Facebook during the day anymore. I understand this is how a lot of places operate and I completely get the whole concept, though I will definitely miss it. I’m likely going to make greater use of scheduled posts just so the stuff I post at night will be visible to people the next day. Barring those, though, I think I’m going to like it a lot there. My coworkers seem both friendly and highly competent, and the view is pretty nice from the 9th floor of our building. I don’t have a window office, but everybody around me does, so I get to see an awful lot of the city whenever I want.

We’re primarily an asp.NET shop. At my old job, we used this too (with a backend of C#), but a lot of what we did was using a really extensive MVC/js framework called ext.NET and a lot of what I was doing was adding on to existing projects. As a result, though I had done some development there, I still felt like I really didn’t know asp.NET after leaving. After a day at the new job and familiarizing myself with some of the projects I was slated to work on, I was surprised to find I wasn’t even a little bit lost. I was also very surprised to find out that I know how to use stored procedures in SQL, something I hadn’t messed with since college. It seems the reports I was writing all last year in SQL Server Report Builder use an almost identical syntax. I still have to google for the specifics of how some things work, but it’s a relief to know I don’t face a steep learning curve right out of the gate. I do, however, finally have to learn VB.NET. C# would work, but most people code in VB there, so it’s a good lowest common denominator and I really should have gotten around to it a decade ago.

That being said, I get a reprieve from VB for my first project. It’s written in C#, and apparently it’s sufficiently enormous that the developer on it currently could use some extra manpower. I’m sure he’s feeling the pressure to get it done, but one of the reasons I took this job was because I know the 70/80/90/100 hour weeks I pulled a couple jobs ago in 2010 won’t ever happen to him, me, or anyone else there. There will be the occasional OT needed, but they work pretty hard trying to keep a normal working week. I even heard the phrase “manage client expectations” when I asked what happens when things don’t go according to plan, which is a nice change from “instantly cave to every unreasonable demand and blame the developer when it inevitably goes south”. So, like I said, it’s still probably rough on him and it may well be no picnic for me. But I know I’m still going to have time for my family and my health and sanity, and that’s huge. Not having that is an absolute dealbreaker. I’m not missing Sam growing up, period. I’ve had a couple people there tell me it’s the best job they’ve ever had, and they’ve been there for 10+ years. 3 days in, I’m still understandably nervous, but I’m hoping that’ll be me saying the same thing in 2022.

Then, of course, there were the ten thousand other little things this month. I had some sort of phase-shifting respiratory plague ever since my birthday in the middle of October, and I’m just now starting to feel like I’m getting over it. Naturally, my wife woke up with the stomach flu this morning and Sam’s acting like he doesn’t feel great too, so I may be experiencing some unexpected downtime soon as well. Two of my good friends are moving away. Thanksgiving was two full days of driving, kids being all crazy, and waaaaay too much turkey. It was fun, but exhausting. There was a good deal of other stuff too, but I can’t really remember it. It’s like that.

So, if you’re wondering why you haven’t heard anything about my NaNoWriMo novel, it’s because my brain exploded at about 3000 words early this month about the time I was interviewing and accepting offers and resigning and starting at new places and being sad and anxious and hopeful, all while sick and occasionally full of turkey. Reality was exciting enough — I simply just didn’t have the resources for fiction too. I fully intend to pick it up and try again next month, though I’ll be damned if I’m going to try to do 1700 words every night. Expect it sometime early next year, or in 2025, or whenever Half Life 3 comes out. Sure, if I ever want to be a professional writer, I’ll have to have the discipline to keep a pace. At the moment, I’m perfectly happy simply knowing that nobody in my immediate family has spontaneously combusted.