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Slightly-Related News!! - Howard Tayler
Ramblings of a Happy Cartoonist
Slightly-Related News!!
Open Letter, September 20th, 2004

As promised in my last Open Letter, there's been news in the queue that is "slightly related," while still being of sufficient import to merit the application of some suspense.

That news has now broken. September 20th was my last day as a Novell employee. I resigned voluntarily, and am now officially "unemployed" for the first time in 11 years.

Most folks, upon reading this, will immediately let slip the hamsters of speculation, spinning those wheels with rattling incessancy. Rest assured, for every thought you readers may have on this matter, I've got at least half a dozen things I want to say, and ALL of them would segue appropriately from the statement in the above paragraph. The hardest part about all of this is choosing which thought to follow up first. What to say, what to say?

Let me start this way: there are numerous reasons why one MIGHT choose to leave a lucrative position as a visionary with a leading technology company, and most of them have little or nothing to do with what really happened in my case. What it really boiled down to was the simple fact that God told me it was time to quit.

God did not say why. He also did not offer me any specific bits of encouragement, like saying "Schlock Mercenary will be netting you a high five-figure income by the end of 2005" (which revelation I would have greeted with all kinds of jubilant praise, yessirree, halle-LOO-ya.) No, for all I know the spiritual experience I've had in conjunction with this decision is leading me on a path that involves poverty, desperation, abject humility, and then a return to Novell as someone hungry enough to really get down to business.

The truly spiritual person doesn't care about the destination in cases like this. For saints, it's enough to know that the decision is the right one, and that God's ways are not necessarily understandable to mortals.

I'm no saint. I'm scared spitless. But I've had this kind of spiritual prompting in my life on three other occasions, and I know that for all my fears, things will work out okay. I just don't have a specific value for "okay" yet.

Now, before you start throwing money at me with the Paypal button, I need to say a couple of things.

  1. My family and I can get by through Christmas with no income other than what we know will be in my final check. We've always lived well within our means.
  2. If I get hungry enough in the bleak midwinter, I know I can find Novell-related work with my former customers, GroupWise partners, or even with Novell.
These two points are amazingly liberating. In the face of this new-found freedom, I'm going to spend the next 90 days pretending to be a full-time cartoonist. It may be little more than a sabbatical, or perhaps a pilgrimage-at-the-drawing-table. Then again, it may be a pretense that dictates the shape of reality. I'm not unemployed. I'm SELF-employed. Pretend that with me, please.

For those of you uncomfortable with the thought that God might be talking to me, feel free to pretend that He is just another one of the Voices In My Head. I mean, as long as we're pretending stuff I might as well enable you in some comfortable fictions, right?

Watch this space. The game-of-pretend has just begun, and I think you'll like the way it plays out.
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p3rlm0nk From: p3rlm0nk Date: September 20th, 2004 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good luck and godspeed. :)
trpeal From: trpeal Date: September 20th, 2004 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, good luck, Howard!
jmaynard From: jmaynard Date: September 20th, 2004 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
At some point, you have to take the leap, lest you spend the rest of your life wondering what might have been. The last time I did that has turned out less wonderfully than I'd hoped...but I'm still happy I did it.

The famous aviation writer Gordon Baxter wrote of clutching his typewriter to his chest and leaping off the cliff to see if it would support him. It did, well enough. Here's hoping your pens do the same.
ronin_kakuhito From: ronin_kakuhito Date: September 20th, 2004 06:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Howard, good luck. I'm not much one for Godding myself, but I do respect the folks who have the vision and courage to respond to God's call, even if I'm a bit doubtful about the reality of said call. As a want-to-be self employed author, I respect the desire to be self employed and I am going to do my damnedest to scrape up enough money to take part in some commercial type interaction involving Schlock merchandice. Back to substitute teaching I guess. Good luck and God be with you.
trygve From: trygve Date: September 20th, 2004 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I'm glad to hear this is at least a voluntary move and one that you seem relatively comfortable with. I hope it all works out for you okay.

I must admit, I was ready to click that Paypal button, but you seem to prefer we not do so, though you didn't quite ask us not to.

So I figured I'd settle for a tshirt and, if I can find it, a book. Are any available yet? Or is this one going to be the first?

Best of luck to you!
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: September 20th, 2004 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)


That particular book listing is a work of vapor-publishing on the part of the very ambitious Chris Crosby. I'm not sure how many pre-orders have been listed, but I have NO intention of publishing with Keen at this point.

I've told Chris as much. I guess he's not gotten around to pulling the listing because from HIS standpoint it can't do a whole lot of harm to leave it there.

scrubbo From: scrubbo Date: September 20th, 2004 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good luck, my friend.

You know I don't believe in God, but I do believe in the subconcious mind doing all sorts of weighing and calculating behind the scenes and giving you a swift kick in the rear when things aren't adding up right in your life. So I might not think your move is as loony as one might expect.

If anything, I'm envious. ;)
jonnorthwood From: jonnorthwood Date: September 20th, 2004 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good luck, and my thoughts and prayers are with you.

I respect you for listening: I respect you more for following your heart.
sandratayler From: sandratayler Date: September 20th, 2004 06:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

My Opinion

It seems appropriate for me to comment and say that this decision of Howard's has my full support. In fact for every step he has made sure that this is Our decision and not merely something he inflicts on the rest of us.

I'm scared too, but I know this is the right thing for us to be doing right now.
level_head From: level_head Date: September 20th, 2004 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: My Opinion

I wish the both of you every success. My Lady_Anne and I have been self employed for decades. It can be scary, but there is an old adage that carries much truth: People tend to be happy to the extent that they feel in control of their lives.

It works for us; it is an excellent experience, and I have great confidence that you will not only do well but enjoy the process.

And, to the extent that a bit of practical experience at the self-employed-and-enjoying-it gig can be of value, feel free to bounce ideas in our directions.

Best wishes, and may good fortune bring you everything you deserve.

===|==============/ Level Head
unixronin From: unixronin Date: September 20th, 2004 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wish you the absolute best possible fortune in your new endeavor, whatever it may turn out to be.

For those of you uncomfortable with the thought that God might be talking to me...

Hey, I figure even He needs some intelligent conversation once in a while. He could pick a lot worse people to talk to for it .... :)
kaolinfire From: kaolinfire Date: September 20th, 2004 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
good luck, and rock on. :)
theswede From: theswede Date: September 20th, 2004 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think saints are saints either, in that respect; the true measure of courage is not lack of fear, but action in spite of it.

Good luck, and I hope whatever voice it was (and who is to say what voice it was, indeed) was very right. In fact, I don't doubt it is.
From: mrsitouh Date: September 20th, 2004 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Count me strapped in for the long haul! Let us know how to support, 'cuz I, for one, will not let anything stand between me and my website of Schlockatey goodness.

Good luck, and godspeed, Howard.
mavikfelna From: mavikfelna Date: September 20th, 2004 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good luck to you brother Taylor. Just remember, most of the time when God drops you a hint like this he's getting ready to ship your family off to a mission somewheres. ::smiles::

ckir From: ckir Date: September 20th, 2004 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

My opinions, free and worth every penny.

I am with the swede. When it comes to it Saintliness is about courage and courage is really about what you do despite fear. Not for lack of it.
That's usually referred to as Stupid.
And you are NOT stupid. Neither is your obviously intelligent (and tasteful) wife.

As for God, If he leads you in that direction then he will take care of you. He may test the bejeebers out of you but he will take care of you. If he hasn't led you in that direction then he will pretty much act the same anyway. He's kinda stubborn that way.
You just do what you feel is right, Howard. And God bless all of you.
torch From: torch Date: September 20th, 2004 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
While I appreciate your devotion to your faith, I find it somewhat irresponsible to tote children through what you admit may very well be poverty and desperation. Of course, I know how much love you feel for your children - I just can't see the logic behind this.

Good luck to you, though, and I hope God doesn't have too much humility in store for you and your family. Or maybe I should wish that he does - I guess we just live in different worlds.
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: September 20th, 2004 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
The only "poverty" my kids have known thus far is "we forgot to buy chimichangas at the store."

Now they're getting familiar with "We do NOT live off of chimichangas, Hot Pockets, or Corn Dogs. Eat What Mom Cooked."

We will never get to the "sorry, no food for you today" point. Trust me on this -- I'll let my kids endure a little hardship, but before there's any actual SUFFERING I'll be back in a day-job someplace.

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