Twenty Four Severed

Today it’s two years since I officially became a self-employed Cocoa developer, although things didn’t really kick off until I landed in Phoenix, Arizona to rendezvous with my erstwhile business partner on June 10th, 2003. The first 40 weeks spent in that wilderness (and for two months, quite literally so) were absolutely dreadful, but since April last year, when I first started working completely for myself, things have improved enormously and now I can say that I’ll never look back.

Not that I would be welcomed back into the world of IT services if I tried. Actually, I’ve had wobbly moments in the past, applied for jobs and been made offers, but once you leave the Corporate Machine (particularly to be a Mac developer) you are typically regarded as a maverick and the extensive experience on your CV is ignored. I understood this when I left and part of my plan was to keep the contracting side of my career going, but it’s impractical to do both well. Besides, I was sick of working for other people. I chose the starving artist route and here I am, happy and thin.

Ten years is a long time and it was weird the first day I was no longer part of that machine. Even though it was my decision to leave, it was like being removed from the Matrix: I felt disorientated, weak and strangely numb. Nowadays, even the thought of returning to that world makes me nauseous. For me, getting into the IT services industry was something of an accident. I enjoyed it for the most part, worked hard and achieved my aims but suddenly ran out of places to go.

All I got from the last year or so was helping other people and working with a good team. After a while things become so abstract you no longer actually do any real work, only talk about it. I have attended enough meetings, pre-meeting meetings, telephone and video conferences, wash-ups, workshops, one-to-ones and presentations to last me a lifetime, maybe longer. Dilbert stopped being funny.

It seemed that regardless of what I was working on I could walk into the office in the mornings, do what needed to be done and leave ten hours later without having to think at all. The pace was always frantic but the job became dull, dull, dull. I love being busy but need to be creative. If I am learning, making something or applying thought to solving problems I’m fine; take all those things away and I see no reason to get out of bed.

These days, it’s the other extreme – I do what I like, like what I do and do it all! I design the software, develop it, test it, write the documentation, administer my web server (and oh, the joy of being your own DBA :-D), design the web site, do the marketing, provide the support and keep the books. I don’t waste time and money commuting, my workday is as flexible as I fancy and despite putting in more hours than before I can even find time to write crap like this.

Another concern I had about going out on my own was that it would be lonely, but thankfully that’s not the case. Every day I’m in contact with people from all around the world: users with support queries, ideas or just writing in to say thanks, suppliers, journalists, developers, Apple sales reps demoing my stuff – the list goes on and on. With Feeder, I also feel part of something: podcasting, the next-generation radio, has exploded since Feeder 1.0 was released at the beginning of this year and through Feeder I’m helping people do something amazing.

It isn’t always easy and I take home less than half what I did before, but that’s OK. I can make ends meet and it’s incredibly rewarding. I’m so much happier and so much less frustrated these days I hardly know myself. My foot is pressed to the metal on the road to Smugville and I’m not going to stop!

This post is dedicated my friends at EDS and is sponsored by Jobserve, Jobsite, Jobsearch, Computer Weekly Jobs, Monster, Jobcentre Plus, et al. After all, Every Day needn’t Suck. 😉

One Response to “Twenty Four Severed”

  1. Or Something » Three Years Already?! Says:

    […] At the stroke of midnight, iCal reminded me that it’s been three years since I quit my job and that, in turn, reminded me of this post I wrote for Reinvented Blog a year ago (when about 5 people read that blog and I still felt comfortable writing about personal stuff). […]