Worth The Effort
I, once again, am having some difficulty. It’s not that I’m depressed, or that I’m anxious, it’s that I’m funky. I posted my article about my Patreon efforts, and then I basically haven’t posted anything for a week. I’m not going to commit to anything here as such, like saying, oh, I’m going to post more from now on because I can’t really promise that right now. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like as soon as I commit myself to something creatively, I freeze. My intellect just suddenly gets overwhelmed and enters a kind of stasis where I’m just stuck.
I’ve been figuring out where to start on my tutorials, and I think I have finally decided that I will start with some heady concepts including the process of abstraction. It seems to me everything we do with our minds hinges on the ability to understand this process, its applications, and where it might fall short. But, I sit down to think or start to write something about it, and I just get overwhelmed with everything. I was afraid something like this would happen the second I announced my Patreon, which is why I didn’t post anything about Patreon for months even though I had the idea for it.
I guess it’s a poor response to pressure, and maybe, I’m not ready for something like Patreon, but I’m going to keep it up anyway. I’m not giving up on it, it’s just I hadn’t anticipated how I’d react to the commitment. I’m still figuring things out, but it just seems like as soon as I think I have to have some kind of creative output everything stops and I can’t think. It’s been this way for at least a year now, and it’s annoying. I don’t understand it, is it a fear of failure, a fear of success, even perhaps a fear of criticism? Is it a fear at all, or is it inability? Am I even able to be creative? I start wondering these kinds of things when I can’t seem to do anything, and usually, that’s what’s started the self-hate train.
Mark though, I haven’t given up, I just haven’t produced anything yet. Maybe I should ask for reader input, like, what tutorials would you like to see? But I know I won’t really get much of a response. It’s like the latest creative development. I thought up a computer game that could be based on my comic idea, of which there has been no comic of course, but when I try to elaborate on it in my head… I just get blankness. It’s like, I can’t seem to handle the breaking down process of a creative act unless I’m forced to like in art class. This computer game idea is based on a here-to-for very little used game mechanic that enables a dialogue engine actually based on artificial intelligence, as opposed to dialogue trees or some such. It’s a quirky, very original idea, but, can I work on it? Of course not!
It’s really frustrating. I can’t seem to get over this hump, and yet, when I actually sit down and start doing something, I’m able to get into it. I was inspired to make the new game idea because of my work with my nephew in learning programming. I’ve been teaching him Python, and we just started utilizing pygame, which is a multimedia framework that you can program with Python to create various interactive experiences on the computer. After installing and exploring pygame with my nephew, I realized that for a 2D game, it wasn’t too bad of an engine and was actually something I felt I could use for my own purposes. Unity is a big engine, and its programmed in C#, which honestly is kind of a pain, so although I can do things in Unity, in some ways it’s too big and clunky for some purposes, particularly fast prototyping of a 2D game. With pygame, a lot of the structure is up to me, the computer just has to handle a framerate clock, ‘blitting’ graphics, and registering user input. That, and if I create a game with pygame, it’s possible for it to be easily ported to Linux, Windows, and OS X with the same code base, or for any platform that pygame has been ported to.
Programming in pygame actually reminds me of programming on my old TRS-80 in BASIC, or Macintosh IIsi in QuickBASIC or C++. I feel like I’m in a comfortable position between the abstractions of the computer and the abstractions of my own design for the game. It’s kind of got this ‘retro’ feel to it for me that an engine like Unity doesn’t really capture, a closeness or familiarity with the machine that I can appreciate. The nice thing about Python is that it’s very flexible, and it’s easy for me to “think” in Python, meaning I basically can sit down and write a Python prototype of an algorithm or function just like I was writing something in a natural language. That’s why I use it, besides its additional ability to handle any size integer, for prototyping my other algorithms. The data types and operations available lend themselves to rapid prototyping, whereas I have had to write libraries in other languages (asherwunk/phabstractic) to accomplish some of the same.
Maybe in times like these I just need to do something else. And what I mean by that is maybe I just have to rely on working on stuff I know I can get into, like programming. I guess I make myself face artificial crossroads in a way, I think, oh, you can work on this programming project after you write this particular tutorial. Then I flounder in the face of something I may not be ready to do yet, and then everything looks out of reach. And thus… I’m overwhelmed. That makes sense to me. So perhaps, when I find myself having trouble writing, or designing, or thinking, I should just fall back on something I know I can always seem to do: program. I mean, who make abstract data types and generic design pattern implementations for fun? Well, I do.
I think part of it as well is just a certain feeling of listlessness or aimlessness, not necessarily in purpose, but socially. I felt very listless last night to the point that I was just sitting on my couch staring off into space and not doing anything, much to the consternation of Maus. Maus tends to see moments of introspection or reflection, where nothing is being outwardly done, as expressions of gloom and doom.
I was thinking of my past, and how I miss certain aspects of it that existed, and how I miss other things that never got a chance to exist. Sometimes I think about how I was banned from the CU campus only six weeks into my first freshmen semester, and how that lead to a complete cancellation of my young collegiate experience, and it’s hard. I think, what could life have been like had I been able to pull myself together and been a normal person at CU, rather than a crazy person who allegedly threatened other students welfare? And of course, I’ll never know. I’d like to think that maybe I would’ve made a few friends, maybe become part of a group of gay people on campus (this was at a time it was still socially problematic to be gay in Boulder), maybe had Katya as a girlfriend, or something, anything. I read things like Associated Student Bodies, and I know that it is super unrealistic, but that spirit… it just seems like I can’t really seem to get that back.
In the same vein, I think about being gay and being furry. The cultural “identity” both within themselves and externally of each of these has changed over time. Both have grown substantially. It just seems like when I was 23 and furry, I felt like I “belonged” to something, that I was “part” of some group. Of course, it helped that I actually had real life friends that I hung out with, something I don’t really have now. Now, furry is so large, and the “spirit” of being furry seems to have changed, at least for me. It’s like the “spirit” of Associated Student Bodies, what it meant to be gay, to be furry, to be Daniel… is somehow gone, and not really there anymore.
I don’t know if this is because of what I’ve experienced. At 23 I was at the beginning of lots of things. I could try to do lots of things and not have the experience of failure, or failure to follow through, hanging over me. I miss Ksaru sometimes, even though he was never really my friend, because he was always pushing me to do something, he was always involving me in some strange plot or situation. Of course, this was because he was a chronic liar, con-man, and neurotic, but, in some ways it was nice. Now, being 33, I have the experience of the other side. I’ve experienced failure, shutdown, and what it’s like not to follow through. So, every time I think of something new, it’s like I have this shadow overhanging me that says, “You’re never really going to do this. It’s just going to amount to nothing like everything else in your life.”
Gosh, that’s kind of depressing. No wonder I don’t feel fresh-faced and dewy eyed.
So little of anything feels truly new or engaging anymore, and that fosters a certain lack of excitement. Daily living, let me tell ya. I used to be friends with a girl I’ll call Poisonfairy, and one of the things she used to expound on when we were in high school was the difficulty of “daily living.” She had a saying from somewhere, “Anyone can handle a crisis. It’s the day to day living that kills us,” or some such paraphrasing.
It seems the older I get, the more I have to do for myself psychologically, which, wah wah, is a pain. And I’m lonely, I only really have one real life friend who lives close by, a couple friends that I don’t talk to much anymore since they moved away, and only really two online friends. Really, that’s it. But, of course, how else am I supposed to be except gravely afraid of making new friends? I know right! The idea of wading through a large number of people to find those extra special people that I’d like to have in my life is daunting, and dreadful. I think in some ways part of my problem is that I’m lazy and just don’t want to put in the effort.
I guess that’s really my ultimate problem, lack of effort. Somewhere down the road of growing older I think I just kind of gave up and ran out of energy. Lapsing into a two and a half year severely anxious depression didn’t help.
Tonight we’re going to an office party for Maus’ work for the holidays. Looks like I may have to be hanging up my hat at the moment and getting ready for that. I just thought I’d stop in here for a moment and share my thoughts.
photo credit: Quentin Verwaerde Vercors : Portrait de vaches (évaluation du succès de la reproduction du troupeau) via photopin (license)