It was September 27, 1995 when I walked in the door at the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin offices of TSR to begin my new job as editor on the book publishing team. Talk about twists and turns. Barely more than a year later the whole company seemed to come to a halt. There were rounds of painful layoffs and a sense of hopelessness in the air. We stopped printing everything, including royalty checks. The Lions Club came and took the gumball machines out of the lunch room. Then one day we ran out of toilet paper, and that was it for toilet paper. It had a very Soviet quality to it, that particular slow descent into bankruptcy. If my key card opened the door in the morning I assumed I still had a job.
That continued for month after nerve-racking month until finally, like the Sera Angel he is, Peter Adkison swooped in as if from the Outer Planes and swept us all up in his loving embrace, and off we went to Seattle.
I’ve joked in the past, and even today, that the best thing TSR ever did for me was go out of business, and send me to Seattle (a city I’ve come to love), but in reality it did lots more for me than that—so much I couldn’t even list them here. When you add in the next thirteen years at Wizards, the internet isn’t big enough.
At Wizards of the Coast it hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns. I’ve run up against my share of owlbears, too. The abject failure of the Discoveries imprint was a very difficult failure for me, both personally and professionally, and I can only hope—now when I really need it to be true—that I’ve come out the other end of that one. I was compelled to lay off Stacy Whitman and Cortney Marabetta, which I hated doing. And there were other fights, big and small, that I ended up on the losing side of, but in the end—who cares?
Honestly, right now, about four hours after being told my position has been eliminated, in what was a very uncomfortable reenactment of scenes from the George Clooney movie Up in the Air, I should probably be all upset, raging against the machine and all that, but I just can’t do it.
I left Wizards of the Coast for the last time this morning surprisingly happy. The people around me seemed to think I was insane, or crippled with denial, and I found myself having to pretend to be angry and upset, though I don’t think I pulled it off.
After very nearly fifteen years of strenuous service, frankly, I was done. I’d pretty much had it, and I have my sights set on bigger, but in the end not necessarily better, things.
I’m finding it difficult to remember the bad stuff, the things that got me angry and frustrated. The good times, the victories big and small, the friends still there or scattered across the country, are all that come to mind. I’m already looking back on my time at Wizards with no regrets.
I will definitely miss the people: the day to day camaraderie of my great team, and my twice a week D&D games. In a year or so, I might even miss the books! Yeah, turns out even in a job as cool as that one, burnout happens. The authors, I’ll do my level best to stay in touch with as I move on to . . . what? My own writing? Well, I have a book shipping even as we speak, so that’s moving forward. Another publisher? A literary agency? The electronic game biz?
Hell, maybe I’ll run for office!
No. I won’t do that.
Almost anything else, though, is possible.