Thursday, 15 August 2013

Stand and deliver

While working from home today, I got an email to attend an impromptu meeting with the head of our part of the business. Those "BE THERE AT 15:00 SHARP - ALL OF YOU" messages never bode well, so yeah.

That was exactly what was coming.

The head dude, let's call him Smarmy, is normally the kind of person who loves hearing himself talk - and whose sycophants know that, so conferences with him are excruciating, while Smarmy throws all kinds of corporate bullshit bingo phrases at us and then nothing actually gets done.

So, I dialled in and put the phone on speaker while I continued doing emails.

But this one was very different.

Smarmy informed us that our part of the business "isn't a strategic growth part" of the business and that there would be an announcement in due course, but that they were "exploring the full spectrum of options". To translate CorpSpeak, our business is now designated as "non-core", which means expendable. When a listed company tries to drive up its share price, it sells or closes non-core activities. Regardless of whether they are profitable or growing (we're both).

The full spectrum of options really boils down to two: sale, or closure.

Knowing the market a *tiny* bit, I don't believe in the sales option. Financial companies are outsourcing and stripping out non-core activities themselves, and it's highly unlikely that one of our competitors or clients would buy us.

I've cast out my CV a few weeks ago and only got nibbles from places that I wouldn't work for even if they paid me properly (which most won't. It's a buyers' market out there for work). No real leads, no interviews. As far as my field is concerned, the job market is still frozen. And there's no way in hell I go back to journalism - which would inevitably kill my writing.

It's all still pretty raw. And I have time yet. By UK law, if they are going to make us all redundant, they'll have to officially put us "under consultation", which is a process that takes about three months. Often, that's just for show - they tell you that they are looking at options, but the understanding is really that you better start adjusting for the inevitable. I fully expect to get to the office tomorrow to get the "you're under consultation" email/meeting with HR.

Funny, this is my second time, so I'm a LOT less apprehensive. The first time was about two years ago and that process left me much better off than I was, all told, though I lost the best team I've ever worked with. (We're still in touch, though.)

Thanks largely to relentless and hard work, I'm in a pretty good place right now in terms of royalties. Not yet in the place where I can replace all of my income with royalties, but enough to not fall back onto social security in any shape or form, or the generosity of the Dude, which for me is really important. In other words, I'll be able to pay my mortgage, though all bigger investments are very much on hold, and I'll be going through my expenses and kill everything I don't need over the next few days.

I'll still attend GRL in October, although that's money I shouldn't really spend if I want to subsist on royalties alone in about three months' time and until they reach the level of my current salary, but everything else is pretty much on hold until I've published a few more books.

On one hand, I feel really uncomfortable about having my plans/schedule fucked with. On the other hand, meh. I didn't much like the place anyway, so seeing it all crash and burn all the way to hell leaves me strangely unaffected. That place was just a paycheck to me, and while I'm given to understand that that's the way for most people, I used to be very different. I got terribly entangled with companies and really actually cared for them. Took me eight years to arrive at the "fuck it all" stage of employee-dom.

Bottom line is, I'll have to do quite a bit of thinking: budget, and what to write in what order to get my royalties up as far and as quickly as possible. It's quite likely this is going to be my only income in three months.

Nothing like feeling the wall in your back to stand and deliver.

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