Stepping off the ledge

A few weeks ago my “primary” contract came to an end. Some interesting things happened after that:

  • I found the time to get started on Confident Ruby, the book I’d been putting off for months. I also started selling early access to it, to a frankly astounding level of response.
  • I recorded and distributed a conversation with Sandi Metz with the “sponsor edition” of Objects on Rails, to a similarly excellent reception.
  • I started spending more time with my kids. I took my elder son to the movies for the first time since… I don’t know when.
  • I started working out again, for the first time in over a year. I stopped drinking half a pot of coffee every morning.
  • Apart from unease over where the money would come from, I relaxed and generally had a better attitude.

In short, I chilled out, got around to stuff I’d been putting off, did more of the things that make life worthwhile, and generally improved my state of mind and body.

When an opportunity came up to take on another consulting client that would fill a pretty big chunk of my time, I realized: I didn’t want to. I’ve been working on other people’s projects for well over a decade, and I’m kind of burnt out on it.

So here it is: I’m stepping out into thin air and dedicating the bulk of my time to things that get me excited. I’ve been incredibly blessed so far in that my book sales have started to form a meaningful percentage (though not a majority) of my income. Now I’m going to see if doing what I love can actually support my family.

This is exhilarating but also fairly terrifying. As some of you know, I’m the sole earner for a family of six, soon to be seven. This could easily be one of the dumbest decisions I’ve ever made. I’m going to work hard to prove otherwise.

Concretely, here are some of the projects I’ll be spending my time on:

Confident Ruby!

First and foremost, I’ll be redoubling my efforts at writing Confident Ruby. Expect big updates soon, as well as proper ebook formats and all that jazz.

Ruby Tapas!

I’m once again collecting email addresses for Ruby Tapas, my planned subscription-based screencast series.

 Pair-Program with Me!

It’s time to make “official” something I’ve been quietly doing for a year or more. Which is: I am available for short pair-programming appointments. These appointments can take various forms, e.g.

  • Tutoring on languages and tools like Ruby, Rails, RSpec, Emacs, and more.
  • Training in TDD, refactoring, and object design.
  • Consulting on thorny implementation problems.
  • Guided refactoring of “messy” code that is causing development headaches.
  • Free sessions working on Open-Source projects.

I’ve put together a page with a lot more detail about the kind of pair-programming services  I can provide, along with some testimonials from people I’ve paired with already.


I have some product ideas I’ve been sitting on for way too long, including one centered around ebook publishing that I’m particularly excited about. Watch this space…


Some folks have suggested I put together and sell training sessions. This sounds like it could be fun. What do you think? If there’s something you’d like to learn from me in the context of a group training session, let me know in the comments! I’m thinking they would probably be done over a Google Hangout, since with a baby about to arrive I’m not going anywhere.


I’m nervous as hell about this, but psyched as well. Thank you to everyone who has supported all my stuff to the point that I could even consider a step like this. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’m lucky to have you all along for the ride!