Way back in 2004, when I first started writing blog entries on weblogs.asp.net,
I made a lot of posts about what it takes to be satisfied in
development work. The winter before that I got laid-off from a job I
didn't like anyway, and I started the year making mad money on a
contract job at Progressive.
But I wasn't happy. Despite all of that money, I was bored to tears and disinterested. During that time I did manage to build PointBuzz,
largely on existing code, but I wasn't doing much in the way of work
for me. I thought at the time that maybe being full-time for me and not
The Man was the only thing that would make me happy.
the book I talked about writing since the previous fall looked like a
certainty, and I got a contract from Addison-Wesley. I quit
Progressive, and did a lot of thinking, relaxing and writing that
summer. I remember crashing in the "red room" at home in the sun,
laptop with me, books around me, writing. My former wife thought maybe
I was depressed or unmotivated, but I had a lot going on my head
(something I wish I would've communicated more to her).
I went a
long time not working a day job, getting by on the little bit of money
that the business was generating. Early in 2005 I started contracting
for a local firm, and I really liked the client they tasked me to work
with. I had a great volleyball team that spring too. I was a little
concerned that despite all of the contemplation in the prior year, I
had no game plan to really build a business.
Then, in April of
2005, my wife left, and I was plunged into a panic of sorts. In the
long run, we never got back together, but we both learned a lot more
about ourselves, something that's easier when you don't have to look
out for someone else. I stopped contracting in the fall and coached
high school volleyball, and wondered if I wanted to write code at all.
At the start of 2006, running out of cash again, I looked
for a job. In January, I took at job at Insurance.com. The truth is
that I hated it, probably for the first several months. I didn't like
the rigidity of the 9-to-5 routine. I took the job because the start-up
atmosphere was still there, but with a slightly more mature
organizational feel. But I couldn't get over that loathing toward
myself for working for The Man. I felt like I was weak, and not driven
enough to work for me.
Six months into it, I started to do work
that I enjoyed. I was getting projects that were interesting to me. I
wasn't totally sold on the place, but I was working with incredibly
talented people, and that turned me on. It was the thing I didn't like
about consulting. If you're the smartest person in the room, you don't
grow much. At this job, there were scary brilliant people around me.
the time this year started, things had turned around. I found myself
taking ownership in stuff. The company was looking out for us and I
felt like I was actually compensated for what I was worth, a feeling
I've never had at any day job. I was getting validation that I used to
tell myself I didn't need. Simply put, I liked my job, and I liked
writing code again.
Today a substantial amount of code that I
wrote went into production, and that's a good feeling. This year I was
motivated to hit a milestone on my forum re-write, and I feel like I can quickly start to crank out components for my various sites. This line of work is fun again.