The reaction to what I showed of Build the Enterprise was incredibly positive, which went some way toward cushioning the blow of the product's untimely cancellation. Hey, everyone likes a compliment, right? On a purely personal note, however, the ramifications of the project ending go a bit further than what I said in those videos.
Basically, I lost my job.
God, that sounds a bit dramatic, doesn't it? To be honest it was all very amicable, but the reality of the situation was that I found myself as a Star Trek editor with no Star Trek magazine to edit. In years gone by my boss - an utterly brilliant, lovely man - has done everything he can to hang on to staff when their projects come to an end; just after the Fact Files finished in 2003 I had a couple of months where I just spent my days looking at the internet and shuffling things from one side of my desk to the other. That may sound brilliant, but it was actually soul-crushingly boring. This time around the situation is a bit different - the company can't afford to have me sitting around twiddling my thumbs, and quite frankly I wouldn't want to.
That being the case I told my boss that he should let me go.
You might think that sounds crazy, but it's really not. I've been at the company for 12 years now - literally almost to the day. It's been the longest commitment of my life; in fact, I've been there over one third of my life. To quote Captain Kirk in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, I've done my bit for king and country.
To be honest, I actually expected to be sent on my merry way soon after the Fact Files came to an end. I could never have foreseen the multitude of successful spin-off products we'd do after those 304 issues. It's been a brilliant job at a brilliant company. I once told Scanner Dave, our IT guy, that I never go to work expecting to make friends, but it's a pleasant surprise if I did. At this company I've met some of the most wonderful people you could ever imagine, and it's my privilege to count many of them as some of my closest friends. People like Yazzle Dazzle, El Deanio, Scanner, and WillowC. But they all left long ago, and now it's my turn.
And d'ya know what? I'm looking at this as one of the most positive things I could possibly do. Over the last couple of months I've developed this new kind of sensibility - don't ask me where this came from, but essentially I just break things down into 'will this have a positive impact on my life?' or 'will this have a negative impact on my life?' Bitching and moaning and worrying incessantly about losing my job would be a massive heap of negativity, so I'm just looking at it as a major positive instead. For a long time now I've thought about going freelance, and this door closing gives me the opportunity to give that a go. Being free of my day-to-day routine frees me up to go try some other things.
Sitting here writing this now, exactly one week away from leaving that office in leafy West London for the final time, I'm not nervous or worried. I'm more excited than I've felt in years. One of the things I found, particularly by the time I was running the Fact Files, was that the higher up the chain you went, the less editorial work you actually did. As an editor, then a managing editor, I found a considerable portion of my time was dedicated to administrative tasks - liasing with contributors, commissioning stuff, reams and reams of paperwork, etc. I want to get back to just writing and editing text. Playing around with words. I've already got some ideas on the boil; I'm just waiting for the time I need to get them underway.
To return to Star Trek again, the day I found out I was going to be made redundant I had the most bizarre thought about how William Shatner must have felt when the original series came to end in 1969 after just three years. The show had been his biggest role to that point … but he went on to forge a hugely successful career beyond it. When you think about it, I got four times as long out of Star Trek as Shatner ever did, so I should certainly count myself lucky in that respect.
I'm sure there will be bumps and uncertainties along the way, but I'm excited. I'm ready for what comes next.