Software Burnout, Music, and My New Direction

It's true that my life has changed alot since I started this blog. The new Gary Cheetham spends his days on his feet and on the phone, encouraging the best out of our software development team, reviewing code instead of writing it. I still work at night, but now it's playing the piano and the sound of hammers on strings instead of the constant clack-clack-clack of my mechanical keyboard.

One of the beautiful things about life is that you're given opportunities to grow and develop as you tumble somewhat haphazardly through it. As I've moved away from the front lines of software development, I've rediscovered my deepest yearning for this wonderful thing we call music. Music is a gift, and the more you give the more you get back from it.

I started my relationship with the piano as a child, but when I became an adult worldly concerns like making the rent drove me to my second, eminently more profitable passion, coding. My career path in the software world has gobbled up so much of my time and attention that I spent a full year never once touching a piano. That time was the most difficult period of my life, I can't say exactly which causes and conditions made it so, and my less-than-healthy work/life balance certainly exascerbated it, but when I started playing the piano again I felt like I'd found my lifeboat. That reconnection with my creativity gave me strength and hope.

The truth is that the legacy of my burnout is a deep-seated anxiety and dread when I think about coding again, almost a Pavlovian respnose. My good friends and colleagues in the Umbraco community will have missed me at this year's conference, CodeGarden 18, but the truth is I'm terrified of sinking into that negative spiral again. Among the socialising and good times at UK Fest last year, I felt it. I still feel it now.

So I'm officially closing this (long-neglected) blog, and announcing the beginning of my new music blog over at I still love my job, and know it's a tremendous privilege to work with such amazing people, but I've realised I don't want to become a better coder any more. I need some time to work on the other parts of my personality venn diagram. And above all my instinct is telling me to make music.

Bye for now!