Anyone remember those old American Express commercials with famous people you wouldn't recognize if it weren't for their acheivements and their AmEx cards?
I'm not one of those people. But during much of the '90s I felt like it. I was on top of the world. In the late '80s and early '90s I was on my way to becoming an accomplished writer in the computer industry. I had my own commentary column in a local magazine, was regularly writing product reviews for major publications, and even had a book deal.
The old timers (in computer terms, 15 years is ancient history) might remember me from my column, PC Life, which gained worldwide exposure as a regular feature on the pre-Internet WildNet BBS Network and the Exec-PC BBS. These days anyone with an opinion can readily share that opinion with the world (this blog is proof of that), but back then you needed talent and saavy. If you don't mind me tooting my own horn, I had those. I had fans. I spoke at conventions (yes, they were small, but I was invited to speak).
So what happened?
I burned out. I couldn't keep up the pace... writing engaging columns each week and writing income-generating articles is hard work. And if you don't stay in the limelight, they forget you.
I held on for a while as a contract instructor, teaching people to become Novell certified. But by 2001, I was done. I was no longer famous. No one outside my immediate circle knew me. And I pretended it didn't bother me. It did. It still does.
I've done some really nice things in the last few years. I've made some wonderful friendships and connections. But when the consulting contracts expired, I couldn't lean on my accomplishments to get me to the next step. There was a time when it seemed like everyone wanted me on their payroll. Now, I'm lucky if someone plucks my resume out of the stack for an interview.
Depressing? Sure it is, but that doesn't mean I'm depressing to be around. I'm an Average Joe again. And as I've mentioned, what used to be special is commonplace these days, so I don't see myself picking up where I left off. I will always be The Former Pundit. It would be so easy to sit here and reminisce, but that isn't what I've got in mind (well, I might entertain the idea from time to time). Instead, I've decided to ramble on about my life today. I still have opinions; I still have adventures. I'm older, wiser, and having to start over.
Shall we see where the world takes me?